NEW DELHI: Google on Thursday celebrated the work and life of one of India’s prominent poets Kamala Das, who dared to write about women’s sexual lives and marital problems at a time when open discussion about such topics was taboo.
Born on 31 March 1934 in Punnayurkulam, Thrissur District in Kerala, she spent her childhood in Kolkata, where her father VM Nair was employed with Walford Transport Company.
Her father was a former managing editor of Mathrubhoomi, while her mother Nalapat Balamani Amma was a renowned Malayali poet.
Regarded as one of the influential feminist authors in the post-colonial era, Das wrote in her mother tongue Malayalam as well as in English. For her vernacular readers, she adopted the pen name Madhavi Kutty.
At the age of 15 she was married to Madhava Das, a banker by profession. He encouraged her to write, and she started publishing her works both in English and Malayalam.
On this day in 1976, Kamala Das released her autobiography, ‘My Story’. Her life and work had a certain boldness and shape-shifting quality, whether it was the many genres she wrote in or the various languages in which she expressed herself.
The story captures her life from childhood to marriage and beyond, describing the rich inner world of a creative soul.
While some found the book to be controversial, including relatives who tried to block it from being published, many readers were enchanted by the lyricism and honesty of her writing.
On account of her extensive contribution to the poetry in our country, she earned the label ‘The Mother of Modern Indian English Poetry’.
She also ran unsuccessfully for a Parliament seat in 1984 but did not pursue politics later on.
Das was honoured with Sahitya Academy Award in 1984, one of the many awards she received in her lifetime.