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‘Acid’: They don’t feel guilty about pursuing happiness

By September 19, 2018No Comments

Source : The Hindu  –  K.R. Meera

An unapologetic handling of same-sex attraction and addiction

It only takes two facing mirrors to build a labyrinth,” said Jorge Luis Borges. Sangeetha Sreenivasan proves that two women loving each other could be like living mirrors creating a labyrinth where they themselves, as well as everyone associated with them, are entrapped.

The novel, originally published in Malayalam, is likely a first for its unapologetic handling of same-sex affinity between two women. It could also be the first to probe the heart of a woman addicted to drugs — acid and booze are still considered the prerogative of men in Kerala. At the novel’s centre, if it has one, is an average urban woman called Kamala, who, like a lotus leaf, inspires the disintegration of everyone who come close to her heart into “unsteady water beads abandoned on the surface”.

But is Acid just the story of Kamala? The narrative maze is so manipulative and deceitful that in the end one wonders who exactly the protagonist is. It may seem that the author is reflecting on Kamala’s story. But then, Shaly, Kamala’s female lover, is the mirror who reflects Kamala best.

At the same time, Adi, Kamala’s son, is the mirror which reflects both Kamala and Shaly together. Thus, Kamala is just one apparition in the mirror the reader unsuspectingly holds close to their face, only to be dazed by the myriad confusing reflections.

The novel can be read as a thesis on the fetters that bind women, women like Kamala, who are more than just one single self. Kamala is described as a victim of love. She and Shaly believe that “love is stronger than three drops of acid” and the “body was no sin”, and pay the price.

The characters of Acid are all too real, and unconventionally so. They are not guilty of pursuing happiness. They boldly talk about masturbation, same-sex affinity, squat down publicly to pee, and acknowledge the emotional fetters that bind them.

Borges had said that the original is unfaithful to the translation. Not for Acid:both versions (Sreenivasan has done the translation herself) are unfailingly compelling.

The writer is the author of The Unseeing Idol of Light.


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