An edited version was published by Helter Skelter Magazine on 22nd June 2013.
My mom has thrown away my Kamasutra book. Atleast, I think that is what happened to it.
I remember the first time she came upon it. We were in my room, cleaning out my closet. She insisted on helping me. I didn’t really have a lot to hide at the time, as most of what was hidden was on my laptop, but there was a bright, pink thong. And, that book.
She came upon the piece of lingerie first.
“What is this?” she held it up with her thumb and fore finger, as if afraid of getting tainted.
“A thong?” I shrugged.
“Why do you wear this? Does it even cover anything?” she shook it in my face.
I had never actually worn it but had bought it on a whim, with other underwear. Those 3 for 25 sales.
“Well, if I don’t wear it now, when should I wear it then? At your age?” I said, in jest.
She shook her head, and kept it back where she had found it.
A few minutes later, she chanced upon my Kamasutra book.
“And, what is this?!” she sounded pissed.
“A book,” I felt a little guilty for even owning it at the time.
“It was on sale,” I said, sheepish.
Well, to be honest, it had been on sale. I had walked into a bookstore and there it had been, on the “sale” table. It wasn’t even an actual sex manual. More like a large coffee table book with paintings of naked limbs in hues of dark, passionate red.
“So, you bought it?” she demanded.
“Well, I bought it for the paintings,” I finally admitted.
This time she looked skeptical, flipped through the erotic paintings, gave a grunt of a half satisfactory “hmph” before putting it back in the crevice I had created specifically for the book.
That was six years ago.
In those six years, we had moved to a new house. I had acquired new shelves for my many more books, including anthologies of erotica, some of which I displayed openly on my shelves. Some of which I had even offered to her, saying, “read this!”. She hasn’t taken up on my offer yet.
So today, with the heavy downpour outside, I remembered those paintings. I wondered who the artist(s) had been. A burning desire to know came upon me. It took hold of me till I gave up what I had been doing and went to look for it. But the book… well, the book was gone.
Books don’t just disappear, I reasoned as I searched everywhere. It couldn’t have just grown a pair of legs, and walked out of the house. It couldn’t have been stolen, the sheer size and colour (it has a Tide safedi type white cover) a deterrent. I know I didn’t lend it to anyone. Then where was it?
I remembered that the book had been kept aside with many of my excess books till my dad had installed the new shelves. Since I had been away from the house, living in another city at the time, my parents had filled the shelves with those excess books. The shelves were located in my “writing room” (as I called it) in the basement.
I went down. I switched on the lights. I perused my shelves. The book was not there.
I sighed. I had looked everywhere. There was only one explanation for it.
“Did you throw away my Kamasutra book?” I asked my mom when she came back that evening.
“What book?” she looked confused.
I patiently described the book. The details of her aversion on her first encounter with it.
“So, did you?” I asked, again.
“Why would I throw your book away? Do I have an enmity with your book?” she defended herself.
Since I know my mom would never lie, I am left unsure. Has dad gotten rid of it? But why would he? Did someone steal it? But why?
The absence of the book doesn’t bother me as much as the loss of the book itself. I could, of course, just order a used copy from Amazon, but the book would not have the personal history I had with my previous copy. That history would be lost.
Also, I had just wanted to know about the artist(s).
Turn your hell into heaven, my mind said. Google!
And so, I did.
Update: I realized that another book of mine was missing (The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger). It was a hard cover graphic novel. A much bigger and heavier book than my Kamasutra book. So, where the hell was that? As it turns out, in an overlooked box in a neglected dark corner of an overlooked storeroom in the basement. Along with- guess what?- my Kamasutra book! Now, they are both where they rightfully belong, out in the open on my bookshelves.