Padmini Dutta Sharma, author of seven books of international repute in a very candid conversation about her recently released novel ‘The eternal quest’.
“I am innately happy being contradicted, glad in a way that I have been able to create ripples within the subconscious mind of my readers.” – Padmini
Tell us something about the novel ‘The eternal quest’?
Well, this is a psychological novel about a woman’s deepest secrets and desires that she nourishes when she is all by herself. Roya, a woman in her mid thirties is happily married apparently with a doting son. She runs her own PR & advertising firm in India in partnership with her best friend who loves her silently. Unaware of his feelings she cherishes his friendship without realizing how deeply she cares till she sees him with another woman that he intends to marry at his mother’s behest. She isn’t willing to let go off him when he wants to settle down but she is forced to leave him back in India all to himself when she immigrates to the US with her family on her husband’s insistence. On her return she finds him nowhere, her quest continues till she is past middle age, does she find him at all? If yes, how & where?
The story evolves round complex man woman psyche, the novel takes an unexpected twist when Roya meets someone much younger during her professional journey and looses her heart to him completely. A single handshake changes her perception of life and love and from then on there is no coming back. She realizes that there had been a huge void in her life till she encounters him. She pursues him vehemently and her strong emotional and physical attraction shatters everything else to quite an extent. Fortunately, or unfortunately the affair doesn’t culminate into something concrete. The interactions between them are drenched in passion and emotional ecstasy.
This high strung honcho Sanjog, goes through a series of tough battles in his own life where he is wrongly framed and jailed on money laundering and defalcation charges; Roya turns around his life by pulling him out of the debacle but he again gets sucked in the filth unawares. During his role as a drug and arms peddler he meets a woman who plays a critical role in his life. Although Roya rules his vulnerable heart, he finds solace in this other woman’s company during his dark phase. He decides to flee his country to make a new beginning but before finally leaving when he meets this woman in a distant land he realizes that they deeply cared for each other during that short stint, unawares.
Do you agree then that women often indulge in extra marital for physical pleasure?
No it’s not about physicality, it’s about her search for the right emotional connect. Women are more prone to respond when they derive the mental exuberance and comfort from her soul mate. She detests responding to his sexual overtures when they are careless and indifferent to her day to day needs. Women are highly sensitive; they abhor domination & exploitation of any sort. It’s not about indulging in the extra marital, it’s about surviving the odds in her own way by overcoming the worst and bonding with someone that arouse and please her senses.
You mean women have the right to love outside marriage?
Oh yeas why not? Marriage sometimes is just a farce where she is merely a giver. What about her needs? If the person she is wedded to does not fulfill her emotional necessities, what is she expected to do? Kill her desires and become a cry baby in the closet, and be a cozy happy wife to the society? Is she expected to fake all the time by virtue of her gender? If she doesn’t find love in her conjugal life she has every right to seek completion at her will & discretion. This life is precious to all of us, right? Then why should she be nailed for no fault of hers.
But then she would be slated as a woman of loose character?
Oh really? Don’t you think that’s grossly unfair on the fairer sex? Why should there be different benchmarks for her versus him? It’s time she comes out of her hiding & screams about her identity, desires and needs. Under such circumstances she should show the middle finger to all concerned and simply move on at her pace. The most important criteria are the women themselves; she is not expected to play a man’s second fiddle for the whole of her life. If her mind and body craves for something / someone she has the right to go for it. And who defines character by the way? Men? Who gave them the authority to write her fate after all? If men choose to philander and deviate from his marriage vows, why should law be different in her case?
Are you a feminist?
What you mean by that term? Someone that burns bras and paints her naked body with tattoos? Oh no! For God’s sake I do not advocate such weird actions to prove my point. I have my own style for advocating rights of women and I do it through my books and writings.
Do you think a woman is capable of falling in love at any age?
Oh yes! Age is just a number, cupid has the power and liberty to strike anyone, anytime. It’s like the gushing wind that emancipates and enlivens the other. There should be no regret or guilt pangs when love comes calling, one must respond whole heartedly and go all out to hug it with open arms. Some say love is like the lethal weapon that disarms even its strongest foe!
Is the novel a kind of erotica?
Oh my God, no! My characters are sober, mature normal individuals. It was for portraying and expressing their innermost psyche where passion reigns supreme it was necessary to add some adult contents in the description. The intimate love scenes are woven with care and precision; the readers will surely bask in the mood.
Is this by any chance an autobiographical novel?
Not in the literary senses but of course traces of some personal encounters and sojourns have seeped into the characters and that is what have made them so humane and warm.
Do you think the Indian male fraternity will accept this novel?
Usually they should love it but can’t say about the hypocrites that have a dubious mind with double standards. They will secretly read it maybe without disclosing them to their partners but I can bet they would thoroughly be able to connect with the love making scenes between Roya & Aveer to the hilt. ‘The eternal quest’ is all about the man woman journey that encompasses the being of of our very existence.
Does it mean then that sex is an all pervading phenomenon in a man woman relationship?
Sex is the all pervading force for the very existence of life, mutual pleasure empowers and strengthens the bond. No one can deny the power of one’s burning desire and urge. Sex is pure joy when there is mutual love and respect sans that, it tantamounts to the worst catastrophe.
Does everyone of us cherish dark secrets?
Oh yeah whether we admit it or not, our proclivity for the forbidden is the main source of our adrenal gush. Lust and arousal are the main source of our sustenance. We all have our dark sides, zealously guarded secrets that we exhume from time to time irrespective of our class and age. It is a natural phenomenon that spares no one.
The last part of the novel seemed pretty intriguing! What happens in the end was absolutely unexpected?
I am glad you liked it but let that be a suspense till the readers buy the book and read it, the suspense will be diluted and the fun will be lost if I divulge the entire thing here. I am sure you would understand and appreciate why I want to keep it at that.
You have discussed through your novel the psyche of two generations, does history repeat itself when it comes to desires and secrets? Did the women of the earlier generations also think like wise? I thought in this ultra modern age women are more desperate in seeking love?
Of course women of all ages have always desired intimacy and complete orgasm irrespective of the time and age. So whether it be the mother or daughter the innate emotion remain the same. The close interaction is depicted intentionally to express the womanly vibes in its totality.
One more pertinent question if I may ask here, the little boy Bodhisattwa plays a key role in your novel. His dialogues are a direct hit on the adults, why have you used him so diligently?
Yeah Bodhi as he is called plays a key role throughout the novel in the sense that he helps the other characters in joining the dots and align their moves in accordance with the situation. He is virtually the conscience keeper of his parents and doesn’t hesitate to lash out on them when he finds them indulging in double standards.
Why have you dedicated this novel to your mother?
Because she has always inspired me to do what I wanted to and has been my most ardent fan and patient listener. She thinks I am always right, we discuss everything under the moon and that’s not bereft of heart to heart adult conversations either.
Did you meet Sanjog?
Must you ask me this? Probably yes but he’s like a mirage, you can feel him from a distance, but is beyond anyone’s reach! (laughs)