an-introduction-pem-by-kamala-das-kamala-surayya-madhavikkutty

The poem An Introduction by Kamala Das portraits her own life experiences. She was a confessional poetess. An Introduction is very strongly confessional and may be one of the most confessional poems by Kamala Das. Each and every line of the poem is a capsule, zipped to comprise all her sadness and strong objection to the patriarchal society. Even though she portraits her own experiences, it is for all, she tries to generalize them for all.

Being a poetess Kamala Das is successful in portraying her private zone of her life, such as love, marriage, sex kids etc., even the sexual encounters too.

Kamala Surayya (31 March 1934 – 31 May 2009) she was formerly know as Kamala Das. She was also known by her name Madhavikutty. Kamala Das is the Mother of Modern English Indian Poetry. And she was one of the significant voices in Indian bilingual writers, at the same time a leading Malayalam author from Kerala, India. Kamala Das embraced Islam at 65 later she received the name Kamala Surayya.

Kamala Das was born at Punnayurkulam in southern Malabar and was educated mainly at home. Hailing from an illustrious family which has a cultural background, her poetic style has a freshness and vigour seldom displayed by any other Indo-Anglian poet. Her poetry is noted for its powerful passion, a confessional strain and autobiographical themes. Most of her poems are remarkable for their power and raw truth. A bilingual writer, her works in English and Malayalam include ‘Summer in Calcutta’ (1965), ‘The Descendants’ (1967), ‘The old Playhouse and Other Poems’ (1973), ‘My Story’ (1974), an autobiography.

A few of her stories, originally in Malayalam language, published in ‘Modern Indian Short Stories : An anthology’ (1974). She was giben the poetry Award of the Asian PEN Anthoilogy in 1964 and the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award in 1969 for ‘Cold’, a collection of short stories in Malayalam. Her poems have appeared in Opinion, New Writing in India  (Penguin Books, 1974) and Young Commonwealth Poets’ 65.

Poem An Introduction by Kamala Das : Analysis

The poem ‘An Introduction‘ begins by proclaiming that though she had no interest in politics, she knows the name of all who are in power, from India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru onward, also she claims that she can repeat all those names as easy as the days of a week or the names of months.

In next stanza we can see , poetess is very proud to say she is brown in color, not brown but ‘Very Brown’. First she introduces herself saying she is an Indian, then reveals her color is very brown, after that she is also proud to be born in Malabar. soon Kamala Das express her disagreement with the argues of her friends, visiting cousins, critics and all, every body asks her not to write in English language because it’s not her mother-tongue. Poetess will to tell them why are they not ready to leave her alone? Then she tells that “I speak three languages, write in Two, dream in one”. She complaints that why can’t she speak the language she like? the language she speak is her’s, and it’s distortions and queerness-es are her’s.

Despite the request from her friends and family poetess says that, lion roars, cawing is to crows, and likewise Kamala Das use her own style of language that can express her longings, hopes and joys, thus it is useful to her. And it is a human speech of the mind that can see, hear and aware, it’s not an abstract speech like deaf and blind speech of trees in storm, monsoon clouds, the rain or of the incoherent mutterings of the blazing Funeral Pyre. For Kamala Das, her speech is coherent, because it has a meaning.

The use of symbols like ‘Incoherent muttering of the blazing Funeral Pyre’, Deaf and blind speech of storm, monsoon clouds, rain, sounds and roars of Crows, Lion etc. are the very strong and powerful explosion of her tough and strong disapproval to her colleges’ and relatives’ opinion.

Now, Poetess starts to reveal something private from her life. Kamala Das always portraits her painful situations in her sexual life. Here in the poem An Introduction, author tells…

I was child, and later they Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.

She was a child but her parents told her she has grown up, but it was only in means of her height, she got hair in her secret parts and her limbs are swollen. Kamala Das asked for Love, her father brought a young boy age of 16 into her bedroom and closed the door.

Explores more private life in An Introduction by Kamala Das

Kamala Das again goes deep exploring her private experience being a wife in her early age, she got a husband in her early age. In their private room she felt like she was beaten. The term ‘beaten’ is represented not exactly for beaten by her husband but it symbolizes the pain she had in her sexual life. Her body was just grewing up it was not completely ready to be a sexual partner being a wife.

It’s clear that Kamala Das had no happiness in her married life. Soon she mentions

The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me

This indicate pregnancy, she could not bear the weight of her breasts and felt crushed by the womb, it pushed her to shrink in a corner.

After that she thought of being a tomboy, not to sit in a corner. She wore her brother’s trousers and a shirt and cut her long hair short. She chose dress of a boy because the dress Saree always indicates a girl or wife.

Her tomboyish nature made disgust in the minds of the so called ‘categorizers’, the people who categorize men and women with limitations in freedom. Womeness is not just sitting in the four walls of a room

“Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better still, be Madhavikutty.”

This is her interest in choosing her name, she doesn’t want the name “DAS” as a tale at the end of her name because it indicates to the patriarchal domination. She received her tale name ‘Das’ from her husband Madhava Das’ name. Poetess says it’s better to call her Amy, Kamala or still be Madhavikutty.


“Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a

Nympho”

People accused that she is schizophrenic and nympho. Schizophrenia is a disorder resulted in the misinterpretation of reality. Michel Foucault understood schizophrenia as a reflection of a society’s inflexibility associated with an individual’s mental condition.

Nympho is a woman with strong sexual desires. Kamaladas’ marriage was in her early age of 16. It stimulated her to feel sense of shamefulness to her femininity which came before time. That’s why Kamala Das tried to overcome her femininity being Tomboyish. But People looked this Tomboyish appearance as a ‘Nympho’.

I met a man, loved him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants. a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love.

Always we see a patriarchal society around us, here Kamala Das also experience the bitterness of patriarchal domination from her beloved too. Poetess generalize her husband to the husbands of every woman.

“Anywhere and,
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I
In this world, he is tightly packed like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh, it is I who make love”

And she generalize herself to the all women who seeks love in their husbands. Poetess (every women) seeks love, but husband always stood with an egoistic word “I“, It stood like a sword in it’s sheath. He calls himself “I” – Kamala Das felt ashamed of this domination over her.

“I am sinner, I am saint. I am the beloved and the

Betrayed.
I have no joys that are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I. “

When the poem comes to it’s end the egoistic “I” slowly migrates to poetess, she also starts calling herself “I”. As the role of reversal occurs, the women too represented to become “I” extending to the pinnacle of self-assertion. An Introduction by Kamala Das is really a wonderful piece of work.

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Salahudheen Kozhikoden

The Admin of LittleHelpz, a post-graduated in English Language and Literature.