Kamala Das (1934-2009)
Kamala Das was one of the major Indian English women poet and short story writer. Kamala Das is known for her short stories in Malayam and for poems in English. Her writings are more popular for the open use of vulgarity and sexuality.
Life of Kamala Das
Kamala Das was born on 31st March in Punnayurkulam in Thrissur District at Kerala in 1934. Her father was V.M Nair, editor of a Malayam daily titled Mathrubhumi and mother, Nalappatt Balamani Amma, a Malayali poetess. Most of her childhood was spent at Calcutta and at their ancestral home in Punnayurkulam. At the age of 15, Kamala got married to a bank officer, Madhava Das who was very supportive and encouraged her to writing interests. Her love for writing developed at an early under the influence of her uncle, Nalappatt Narayana Menon, a writer. She soon started writing and publishing in both English and Malayalam and founded her name among her contemporary writers. After falling in love with an Islamic scholar and a Muslim League MP, Sadiq Ali, Kamala Das converted to Islam renaming herself as Kamala Surayya. Kamala Das breathed her last on 31st May 2009 at the age of seventy-five at Pune hospital. She was buried at the Palayam Juma Masjid located at Thiruvanathapuram with full dignity and honor.
Literary career of Kamala Das
Kamala Das is known for her short stories in Malayam and for poems in English. Her use of explicit tone of sexuality and vulgarity makes her stand out among others. She is often compared to women poets like Marguerite Duras and Sylvia Plath for her use of direct tone. Her first book of poetry titled Summer In Calcutta (1965) deals with the themes of love, betrayal and anguish. She published an autobiography titled, My Story (1976) at the age of 42. It was originally written in Malayalam and later translated to English. Some of her well known stories include Pakshiyude Manam (1964), Neypayasam (1991), Thanuppu (1968) and Chandana Marangal (2005). Among her novels, Neermathalam Pootha Kalam is well received by the readers. Some of her works in English are The Sirens (1964), Summer in Calcutta (1965), The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973), Alphabet of Lust (1977) and many others.
Kamala Das has read her poetries at different places such as University of Duisburg-Essen at Germany, University of Bonn, University of Duisburg, University of Kingston, Jamaica, Singapore, Frankfurt Book Fair and South Bank Festival at London. Her works have been translated in different languages such as French, Spanish, Russian, German and Japanese. She was the Vice chairperson in Kerala Sahitya Academy, chairperson in Kerala forestry board, President of the Kerala Children’s Film Society. She was also the editor of the magazine, Poet Magazine and Poetry editor of Illustrated Weekly of India.
Awards and achievements of Kamala Das
Kamala Das has been awarded several awards for her contribution in the field of literature and art. She was awarded Asian Poetry Prize in 1998, Kent Award for English Writing from Asian Countries in 1999, Sahitya Akademi Award in 2003 and Kerala Sahitya Academi Award in 2005.