Kamal Das you are an egima, aren’t you? The first time I heard about you was from my friends who were pursuing BA. They had your poems. They told me your poems were simply sensuous. “Just mention the name Kamala Das to any of the Arts student and a mischievous smile will emerge on his face.” One of my friends, who obviously was an arts student told me.
Then you made headlines by converting to Islam. “I feel the safest in burqa.” was the headline of your interview published in some newspaper, I believe Times of India. I took up writing, albeit not very seriously. I read a lot whether it was books, magazines or newspapers. I was never conventional when it came to reading. I liked books by different authors on various topics. So I met you rather late. Finally I purchased your book My Story.
My Story is your autobiography. The introduction to the book was a startling revelation. I learned that this autobiography of yours was a marriage of fact and fiction. That’s what you had said during your lifetime. Now only you can do that. There must be many elements of fiction in autobiographies of many other men and women. But how many of them have guts to admit it?
My story portrays the plight of women in Kerala. No sooner did they attain their puberty that they were married to men who were at least double their age. They were crushed. Not just their bodies, but their dreams and souls too. But you make this point very subtly. You tell us about your childhood spent in Calcutta and of course Kerala. You were sent to the best school alongside the British children. It is heart wrenching to know that you and particularly your brother were ragged for being dark.
You mother and uncle were writers too. Now I realize where you get your writing talent from. I was easily able to relate to your first crush and the heart break that followed. Your marriage and child birth covers much part of the book. So does your illness.
Most of the married women are unhappy. But they pretend to be happy. But here you come out in the open and tell that your marriage was a failure. You were blessed with children and a husband who held a high post. Still you were unhappy.
Your love for reading was an interesting read too. You wrote articles, received remunerations for the same and spent it on buying books. Ditto like me. Your sickness and romance with death was very much mystical. I too have a deep attraction for death. The way you supported your husband when everything in his office was going against him, only for the reason that he was honest, stirred me inside. You returning to Malabar, giving up the saree and wearing traditional clothes and realizing that it was the place where you belonged is an eye opener. No matter how far you go, you return to your home, always. Your book had a very deep impact on me. I liked it and wanted to read more books written by you. But you are so mischievous. There were no other novels in English written by you.
This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.