She grew up reading Mills & Boon novels tucked inside her physics textbooks, and couldn’t fathom why erotica was considered a ‘sinful’ genre. On the contrary, Shradha Singh wished more women would pen down their fantasies, because, she believed, erotica written by women would always have a “different aroma of sex and liberation”.
So she decided to do it herself.
Born in Ranchi, Shradha studied in Delhi University’s Miranda House before heading to MICA Ahmedabad, one of India’s top management institutions, for post-graduation. Always interested in theatre in her college days, she began her career as a programmer in a TV channel. She also tried her hand at writing scripts for TV, and went on to win two Indian Telly Awards for her work in Halla Bol and MTV Exit.
She now works as the programming head for Ishq 104.8 FM, an apt position considering she loves everything to do with romance, including romantic erotica, as long as it has some intellectual quotient.
“Everyone in India is kind of struggling with sexuality,” says the mother of a nine-year-old daughter. Her first novel, The Guilt Pass, is the story of a couple who give each other an unusual gift on their 10th wedding anniversary: the chance to have an extramarital affair, just once. The book explores the complexities of marriage and relationships, and delves into polyamory, which is the desire for intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the knowledge of all partners – call it ‘ethical or responsible non-monogamy’, if you will.
Interestingly, Shradha herself has been married for 10 years; her husband Pankaj Dubey was her college sweetheart, and both are professional writers. And he was the first one to support her decision to write an erotic novel. “When I shared the news about my book on my family’s WhatsApp group, everyone went silent,” she laughs in recall.
Though she’s enamoured of all things romantic, Shradha has a sensible approach to extramarital relationships. “Let’s be honest. Monogamy does not exist. Humans created marriage to civilize ourselves and to create a sanitized environment to raise kids,” she says, questioning the general definitions of ‘cheating’. “If you chat with someone of the opposite sex and then delete it, or meet someone for a drink without telling your partner, isn’t that cheating? But it’s commonplace.”
At the same time, the 37-year-old agrees that extramarital relationships do have repercussions. “Monogamy isn’t natural but we need it for our own sanity. You have to choose the life you want: simple or complicated.”
Having multiple partners may be exciting, but there’s much to be said for emotional stability, she says. The ‘guilt pass’ is expensive.
Shradha Singh’s The Guilt Pass is available as an app book on Juggernaut.