Today has been a day in which I have more Malayalam than usual swishing around in my head. I was doing some basic vocabulary with Jay, just because, when he asked me what the Malayalam word for sex is. And, you know what, I don’t know. Never had those conversations in Malayalam. Not even in the movies. The movies and newspapers taught me what the word for rape is, and all children know the words for kisses and hugs, but we only ever euphemistically glide around sex.
Also, Jay and I were talking about movie-watching habits during my childhood, and I realized as I was telling him that it was probably quite strange that we spent a lot of time worrying about fungi (can one call it an infection?) on VHS tapes. We had to be very careful and check the tapes and spray them, otherwise the video wouldn’t play right and the VHS player itself would get infected and pass the fungus onto other tapes. The things one worries about when one lives in a state with monsoons for about half the year. Also, nobody outside of Kerala seems to have heard of that black mold that grows in damp clothes and ends up staining them. There is a very specific name for it. And Jay wonders why I obsess over fungal infections.
A few years back we got my grandmother a dryer. I believe it was the first dryer to be released in India, and it is also probably the worst dryer in the world, but it is such a godsend. No more stringing up clothes in every room in the house and staring at them in desperation because they will not dry during the rainy season when the air is so moist. It is strange, the ordinary things we take for granted that are so extraordinary to others who haven’t experienced them. It is like underground streams, or other planets, or like having to stop talking to translate a word.
I just want to take a moment here to appreciate the poetry of Aphra Behn, who was:
- possibly the first woman in the English-speaking world to make a living as a writer
- probably bisexual
- also a spy (no kidding)
- given to writing poetry that is really homoerotic/blatantly about sex/both
I did learn about her in college, but I missed out on the sexy poetry until now, and now that I have discovered it I feel the need to share some examples, because it’s pretty entertaining. If you like sexy poetry from the 1600s, I mean, but who wouldn’t.
The Disappointment, or, “it’s such a letdown when a guy can’t get it up”
On Her Loving Two Equally, or, “the solution to this one is probably a threesome”
To My Lady Morland at Tunbridge, or, “I was mad that you stole my boyfriend, but now that I’ve seen you I can’t blame him, because damn" (see also "Selinda and Cloris," which is basically the exact same thing)
To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More Than Woman, or, “let’s not even try to pretend this poem isn’t about lesbians”
To Mrs. Price (and the appended Song), or, “come join me in the countryside where there is so much sex happening, p.s. I love you and if you don’t love me back I will probably die”
There are more intriguing things that I’ve seen referenced or quoted, but anything outside of her most popular works is kind of hard to find online. Still, interesting stuff! At least, I thought so.