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This afternoon, I started reading 'A Childhood in Malabar- A Memoir' by Kamala Das and it struck me that today's post should be on her. Reading her words in my room in a scorching summer, her words transported me back home. I could feel the rain on my face. I could her the tinkle of her bangles when she was a child. In her words, I could see the mysterious Korathi with her sick parrot who came to read her hand. I could see the aged Nalapat house, its vadakkini and thekkini.
I have been in awe of all her works which I have discovered only during the past year or so and have been devouring her books ever since. There are certain books which makes sense to you during a particular period of time. Had I read her books earlier, perhaps, I would not have fallen as much in love with them as I do now. She came into my life at the right time and I have been in love with her words ever since.
What a woman! She wrote from her heart, not caring what anyone would think of it. And perhaps, that is why you can relate to her writings with so much honesty. Kamala Das has quickly turned into one of my favorite authors. Hailing from Kerala, most of her stories and poems are set in the backdrop which I was born and brought up in. She easily strikes a chord in the heart of her readers.
Kamala Das was a woman who lived life on her own terms, be it the literary one or her controversial, personal one. Hailing from a small village in Kerala, she was popularly known as Madhavikutty, for her works in Malayalam. She attracted the scorn and hatred of many for her bold and sensuous writing about love and lust. The way she openly wrote about desire and the needs of a woman sent sparks flying.
Married off at a tender young age of fifteen, she found her passion for writing early in life. Her father was an editor of a popular Malayalam daily called Mathrubhumi and her mother was a famous Malayali poetess. Her childhood was spent largely in Calcutta and Kerala, the influence of both which are to be seen in her writings.
Ever since I discovered her books, I have been trying to get my hands on as many as possible. My Story is an autobiographical work which raised many eyebrows for its controversial content. But my personal favorite of the ones I have read so far is Wages of Love is a compilation of many of her articles, short stories, poems and plays. Neypayasam is a gem of a short story which talks about the plight of a father who comes home to his three young sons after his wife's death. This story will make sure you shed a tear or two. It is a story which moved me so much that it still remains close to my heart.
Having born to the Nalapat family and of a Nair origin, her conversion to Islam at the age of sixty five and adopting the name Kamala Surayya again put her into scrutiny in the eyes of public. Her death in 2009 at the age of seventy five was a huge loss to the literary world.
Kamala Das was an enigma, a mystery perhaps even to herself. Her words would stay with you beyond the pages. A writer whom I always go back to, for inspiration. And today, as I write this, I wonder if there would ever be another writer like her. One who would write with an honesty and passion as only she could. Somewhere deep inside, I know that the space she left behind can never be replaced. And I wish...