A Step Forward

Kamya gazed at the fumes which seemed to be taking the form of an abstract artwork. The artist in her always found inspiration in the mundane. The brain wave had swept her away into the tides of unbridled, cathartic imagination. Though blissfully submerged, she was brought back to the realms of reality soon enough. It was that sane, soothing voice which had made her almost jump up in exhilaration.

“Radhika!” exclaimed Kamya, a little fazed and a lot enlivened.

The bosom buddies, who were meeting after a decade, almost crushed each other while attracting the attention of the entire Barista crowd due to the clamour. WhatsApp messages, Instagram comments, Facebook posts and phone calls – none of these could ever beat the actual presence of a comrade.

“Ordered your boring Cappuccino for me too?” teased Radhika as she glanced at the quirkily designed table while plonking herself on the plush seat.

The coffee began to turn cold, but the atmosphere was warmer than ever. The clock was ticking but time had stopped. Random, inane conversations transfigured into profound, soulful musings. There was a fleeting moment of stillness around when Radhika popped the question with an earnestness that was so typical of her.

“So, did you do it?”

“Do what?” asked a befuddled Kamya.

“Ok, if you insist, let me spell it out for you. Did you try masturbating?”

Kamya was dumbfounded, almost scandalized by the question.

“Are you crazy? What are you talking about here? It’s a public place.” Kamya chided Radhika in a hushed tone.

“Huh?! I am not asking you to masturbate here. Now answer me.”

Kamya was fumbling and also awkward. Radhika took a deep sigh and shook her head in frustration.

For years now, Kamya had been experiencing marital discord. She could never explain what was off beam in the relationship because people considered only domestic violence or adultery as a matter of concern. Neither of it was applicable in her case, yet there was an undeniable physical and emotional disconnect leading to resentment, despair and frustration. Even her arguments with her husband were no more invoking any feeling within her. It was as if she was mechanically living through the days, finding succour only when she submitted herself to her art.

While no one else understood, Radhika had read between the lines. She understood Kamya’s little disappointments and mismatched expectations. She could fathom the gravity of the situation, unlike others who dismissed it as overreaction. There were many voids to be filled, one of them being sexual dissatisfaction. It was then that Radhika had suggested Kamya to masturbate because the suppressed sexual tension had to find a release. It was probably not a solution to her problems but was important for her well-being. However, Kamya had been aghast at the thought of it, which had left Radhika bewildered.

Kamya was not from an orthodox background. In fact, her parents were quite liberal and progressive in their ways and beliefs. Yet, she hesitated to indulge in self-pleasure. It was a strange mental block which she could not decipher. Maybe, she felt dead due to the absence of fulfilling sex for years or maybe, it was the societal conditioning that had wired her brain to feel guilty about masturbating in spite of being married.

“Kamya! Don’t tell me you think masturbation is wrong or taboo. Whenever I bring this topic up with you, you start reacting as if am some sleazy filmmaker trying to exploit you to cater to my fantasies.”

“What rubbish Radhika!” retorted Kamya chuckling at that amusing simile. “Yaar, I honestly tried once but could not get over the hesitation. I was beginning to feel good and that made me feel awful about myself. What would Ajay think if he gets to know?”

“What would he think? Are you a kid? In fact, you never know this could be a stepping stone to something positive. Making love to self can actually help to have fulfilling sex with a partner. Being attuned to our own desires can enhance the mutual experience. It may seem like submission to another but in reality we are submitting to the cues of our own bodies while responding to the moves of our partner. Besides, this is your right, so just go all out”, asserted Radhika.

Kamya was not entirely convinced but was not in vehement denial either. Radhika had to rush to catch a flight, so they bid a half-hearted farewell to each other. Later that night, Radhika shared an article with Kamya which listed the benefits of masturbation and also shattered the many myths surrounding it. Kamya recognized that she was suppressing it all, and maybe, just maybe, doing this could improve her state of mind in general. Apparently, science said it could, so it was worth the effort, she decided. She also researched more on the internet on this subject. She realized her awareness about sex had been quite limited and one-note.

Gradually, Kamya tried not to feel ashamed about her sexual desires and stopped brushing aside those emotions and her fantasies. One day when she was alone at home, her eyes fell on the book in the erotica genre which lay on her bookshelf untouched. It was her possession from her pre-marital days which never found the owner’s absolute attention. As she immersed herself into the pages, the evocative and aesthetic narration in the story began appealing to her senses, arousing her to the hilt. She was overpowered. She was thrilled. She was in ecstasy.

That day, she did it. Uninhibited. Wild. Sublime. Guilt-free. She had an orgasm after years. It was a different experience, one that had opened a whole new world for her to discover. She was relaxed and satiated. It did not leave her with a mucky feeling, as she had anticipated earlier. Rather, some of the things that she had read in the article shared by Radhika seemed to be true after all.

She arose refreshed at the crack of dawn and texted Radhika.

“I had an orgasm. Loving oneself is not that bad after all. I had underestimated it,” she typed followed by a wink. “But, I don’t know why I feel a little guilty even now about doing this.” she continued.

Her mobile beeped almost immediately.

“Yaaaaaaaaay. I am very happy for you. But, for the life of me I don’t understand why is masturbation making you guilty? Sex and masturbation are not mutually exclusive, and both can co-exist even when one is in a perfectly healthy relationship. The act is not just about pleasure. It’s about knowing your body, owning it and exploring your sexuality. Most people masturbate; it’s just that as a society we still have a long way to go when it comes to openly discussing these matters, all the more when it comes to women’s sexuality.”

Long way to go indeed, but Kamya had taken a step forward.

Author’s Note: For the longest time, I used to think that among the many issues and challenges faced by women, female sexuality and masturbation was not as important a topic to be addressed. This, till I spoke to the friend of mine on whose experience this story is based. The social stigma associated with this subject has probably led to lack of awareness and repressed desires in many women. We need to ditch the shame, right away!

//This article was published on Women’s Web and is available at the following link

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