Kamala Das: The Voice Of Indian Woman's Quest For Liberation


Tawhida Akhter


Kamala Das born on March 31, 1934 in Malabar, Kerala. Das is one of the best known contemporary Indian Women Writers. Writing in two languages, English and Malayalam, Das has authored many autobiographical works and novels. Several well received collections of poetry in English, numerous volumes of short stories, and essays on a broad spectrum of subjects. Since the publication of her first collection of poetry, "Summer In Calcutta”(1965), Das has been considered an important voice of her generation, exemplified by a break from the past by writing in a distinctly Indian Persona rather than adopting the techniques of the English modernists. Her poetry is the most moving and tortured. Credited as the most outspoken and even controversial writer, Kamala Das earned fame as the ‘Voice of Women's Sexuality'. Apart from writing in English, Das also wrote under pen name Madhavikutty in Malayalam before her conversion to Islam. Her  popularity in Kerala was credited mostly to her short stories and the autobiographical ‘My Story', which was translated into fifteen languages, a book where she openly discussed her unsatisfactory sexual life with Madhava Das, her husband.

The poetess protest against the domination of the male and the consequent dwarfing of the female. The woman is expected to play certain conventional roles, and her own wishes and aspiration are not taken into account. The intensity of the protest, conveyed in conversational idiom and rhythm, make it symbolic of the protest of all womanhood against the male ego. she was married at the early age of fifteen, and that her marriage proved an absolute failure. It was the failure of her marriage that compelled her to enter into extra-marital sexual relationships in search of the kind of love which her husband had failed to give her. Her husband was a believer in sex as a matter of routine; and his wife was therefore by no means starved of the pleasure of sex. She, on the contrary, believed in marriage as an emotional and spiritual bond; and her husband's coldness in this respect led her to feel acutely dissatisfied and discontented in life and, not finding real love even in her extra-marital affairs, she slid into a life of sexual anarchy, with one lover following another, and with her discontent becoming deeper and deeper till it assumed the form of utter despair. Her poetry is generally called confessional poetry because it is a record of her personal experiences, chiefly in the sphere of marriage and sex, though it certainly has a wider range and includes a few other aspects of life too. Kamala Das is always sincere, always true to herself both in her prose and her poetry. As a wife she was expected to look to the comforts of her husband, to minister to his needs, in short, to play the conventional role of a Hindu wife, and this has dwarfed and stinted her own personality. . It was her suffering that led her to seek place in another's arm to knock at another's door- "...yearned for a man from/another town”, as she writes in The Wild Bougainvillea. Das once herself said in an interview to the Warrior, "I always wanted love, and if you don't get it within your home, you stray a little”.

Kamala Das lived alone in her world with feelings of loneliness. During her childhood, Kamala, like other children in the Nair family, was almost completely neglected except her grandmother. She tells it in her autobiography.