On Her Decision to Stop Wearing Clothes

Akka Mahadevi

Dr. Mahinder Watsa is no more. The tributes are pouring in on social media, and rightly so. His responses to questions about sex in his column in the Mumbai Mirror acquired cult status. He was greatly loved for his witty rejoinders to the ignorant, the bigoted and the prudes of this country. Sayantan Ghosh put it nicely in a tribute on Twitter:

“Dr Mahinder Watsa not only made talking about sex a non-issue in a country still lacking adequate sex education, but also was one of those satirists who always responded with empathy, to even the most inane inquirers, reminding us that humour can and must coexist with compassion.”

Dr. Watsa represented everything that is beautiful and liberating about sex. Sample a couple of exchanges culled from this beautiful profile of him in The Mumbai Mirror that has resurfaced.

“My family is demanding that I get married. How can I ascertain if the girl is a virgin?

I suggest you don’t get married. Unless you appoint detectives, there is no way to find out. Spare any poor girl of your suspicious mind.”

“Once he was asked by a “32-year old happily married man from Karjat” if it was OK to cheat on his wife with his goat named Ramila. “Over the past two months, I have been thinking about how it would feel to make love to her. Is this normal? Will I contract a goat-related STD? Please help!” he wrote

Aside from mentioning that bestiality was considered abnormal and illegal in India, this is what Dr. Watsa had to say. Do ask Ramila whether she would like it”

As the author of this piece, Meenal Bhagel would put it “Consent, Consent, Consent” would be the single most important advice that Dr. Watsa had to offer.

In this spirit of openness and compassion that the good doctor embodied, then, let me share this poem by the 12th Century Vachana poet Akka Mahadevi (a version by Jane Hirshfield).