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An Introduction by Kamala Das

An Introduction by Kamala Das
Bijay Kant Dubey

An Introduction as a poem is an introduction of Kamala and she is getting introduced to the readers and critics of Indian English poetry. A confessional poetess, he is laying her inner heart bare, but one should not take it for that she is a simple girl, but is coquettish and intriguing. Her histrionics, theatrical stance, has none come to imbibe. She is a colourful Radha of Indian English poetry; the sad Mira of it. Radha and Kanhaiyya both of them are love-birds, famous for the nautanki of love. Their raslila who do not know it, under the kadamba tree, by the banks of the Yamuna river? At that amorous love does not remain it amorous, but turns it physical.

Kamala is but a politician whether you accept it or not as she makes the things said, relay it otherwise, rounding it off often in a tell-tale narrative and coming to the same point but differently. Even she says that she does not know politics, take it for granted that she knows it and is intriguing. If one does not know politics, how can she take the names of the people in power whose names have been doing the rounds? Her general knowledge is not poor, as she can start from Nehru. Their dates of birth, life-histories and action plans, nothing is hidden from her. After reading An Introduction, one will startle to know that the poet is a politician doing the politics of poetry. For some time she had been in politics holding some chair. She had also wished of becoming an M.P. or M.L.A.  and to be in the media limelight had been the taste of hers. The intentions of Kamala Das are quite clear even though she hides them. She knows the politics of being in power and can grapple with the things in her own confessional way. The eunuchs and transgenders too are the spokesmen of her poetry. Shiva as Ardhanarishwara may be the latent poetic vision of hers; the ghettoed life woman she wishes to rebel against and overthrow. She may be of the view that the soul does not have any gender. What it fascinates her most is the liberation of the woman self from torture. Possessive love bores her. Patriarchal society suffocates the liberties. How to be free? How to liberate is the question? The life of a woman none but a woman can feel it. Pregnancy and abortion deaths, how horrible is it to imagine of them? The contributions of Ram Mohun Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar we cannot forget them.

She is Kamala, a Malabari Keralite and she can speak in three languages, but can write in two, English and Malyalam. Not an English memsahib, but a brown sahiba is she practicing Indian English. On marking her writing in English, people question her about the validity of choosing an alien language to speak the native things. How can it be? But she takes to not their advice; goes on with her writing. Her English is half-English, half-Indian and to be frank with it is funny. It is as human as she is a human being. She writes in English as she likes it and has found words to express in itself to put her feelings and feelings on a wider platform. At least the voice of an Indian woman the world can read and feel about. She is not at all an animal, the beast of burden, but a self with living consciousness. She is not a nameless person of Jayanta Mahapatra. She is not a purdah nashin girl of Sarojini Naidu. She is not only Sita and Savitri, but Radha, Radha, you are my life, Radha, how to live without you? She is but Draupadi, Draupadi; Kunti, the mother of Karna. Do not underestimate Putana, Hidimba and Surpanakha, non-Aryan heroines. Kamala is but the Draupadi of Indian English poetry; the Radha of it. A shisya of Acharya Rajneesh with the rudraksha rosary and in saffron clothes, she appears to be a modern ashramite. She expresses as the sevadasi of a Vaishanave saint unfolds it. Rajneesh’s sambhoga to samadhi, sex to bliss seems to be the focal point of her story of life.

There is no question of the mother tongue or the father tongue to debate or discuss. The poetess writes as she likes it most. The language she has chosen to write voices forth her feelings, emotions and sentiments and there is nothing as that to compromise on this point. Even if it is broken, it is but hers; even if queer, is but hers. The critics should not complain against the selection of the language. Critics, friends and visiting cousins are requested to leave her alone ruminating poetically. English is also a speech, foreign or native. It is but a medium of expression so there is no fault in choosing it, going for it. English too is a human speech and through it she has chosen to voice her sentiments and aspirations.

With the change in time and growing with the years, the bodily change is sure to take place and it happens with.  She starts growing up and her physique too changes with in appearance. She grows up and so do her limbs. But her coquetry lies in it that she starts describing every organ metaphorically. The woman persona in her feels it beaten and laden. The weight of the organs places her in an awkward position. The breasts and the womb crush her and she feels shrunken pitifully.

When she wears the shirt and the pants of her brother and gets the hair cut short, the family members desist her from doing so. They ask her to dress like feminine beings for which the sari and the blouse will suit it best. A girl should remain a girl; a woman a woman. It is also a feature in Indian homes that the girls live with restricted freedom and liberty. They are not free at all to live a life of own. Under restrictions and pressures, they pass on their lives. Learn embroidery and be an embroiderer. One needs to learn cooking as when she moves out to the other man house, there she will have to cook and to take the domestic responsibility upon. The story of The Ox by bates is the case with. To be a girl is to be a wife; a woman, the mother of man. To be a woman is to be a cook, virtually a quarreller with servants. They advise her to fit in it. They also forbid her to sit on walls or peep through the windows. Kamala should also say that she should not smile after seeing the strangers. She should not talk unnecessarily.

The poetess meets a man, takes him to be her own like every woman who takes to believing even though knowingly who is for whom. Take him to be man whom one meets on the path of life as it is a routine affair for all and there is nothing new in it. He is that who wants a woman for himself and this generic tendency is in all. She too like him is a woman wanting a man. Human hunger and thirst is in it all. The hunger of the stomach and the thirst of the panting soul, what to say about?

Call her Amy or Kamala or Madhavakutty. It is just time to choose a name to play the roles, to enact the drama of life in the theatre of the world. The same girl is as the wife of someone. The times have changed, but she has not, she is the same Kamala, better to be said Madhavakutty, the small Malayali girl from Malabar.

She asks who you are, she asks it everybody. But the outcome comes to be, it is I, I. Here lies it the answer that I is You, You I. Though the trend may be different, but all the paths lead to the same.

Relating to her story, that is the story of a woman, she herself laughs and she herself weeps. It is she who makes love and who too fells it shame. What a destiny of hers! Has she turned into a schizophrenic patient or a babbler?

The mad man’s laughter seems to overtake her when she says that she is a sinner, she is a saint too at the same time changing her stance. She is a beloved as well as a betrayed one. Kamala often puts the blame on her husband, but she is also not a simple one, but a notorious being. Self-scrutiny she does it not. How can it be, a yogi and a bhogi at the same time? Kamala is not a sadhvi, but a political sadhvi of today contesting elections on party tickets. She is not a sadhvi, but a dhongi.

Kamala is sexual, bodily and physical; mad after sex. The body is the soul of her writings. She may be one like the heroines of D.H.Lawrence gone into hysterics. Kamala poses as a Radha, but is not a Radha, she is but Kamala, a Malyali girl from Malabar, so frank and bold, adventurous and daring.

The hungry haste of the rivers is in her, the oceans’ tireless waiting. Who is she? What her identity? What is she? What her introduction? Is she a lonely woman? Is the woman not a soul? Does the soul have a gender?

There are two sides of the poem, An Introduction. One is the personal while the other for a greater cause. If the former is one in acceptance, the latter a study in rebellion and protest, all the angers directed against predicament. The life of a woman none but a suffering can but say it from childhood to adult age to old age. The pain of the eunuchs none has come to understand them. Bu the hidden reality is that the soul is genderless. Shiva as Ardhanarishwara is the best piece to say it all that. ‘Bharat Ki Vidhwa’ poem by the Hindi poet Nirala explains it best. Kabirdas himself had been the illegitimate child of a Brahmin widow who abandoned him as for public gaze and glare. The woman is not only a wife, but a mother, a sister and a daughter too. While thinking about her and taking sides with her, it appears whatever she is saying, she is but truly. We feel the pains of Mira and Mahadevi Verma through her. The Sati system, the child marriage, honour killing, female foeticide, still strike us with pain. The Arabic and Asiatic taboos and restrictions have damaged womankind.

But it is a major drawback of Kamala that she is spiritually sick and morally bankrupt. The sleaze stuff leaves her. Kamala has not risen from the body level and is submerged in lust, infatuation and erotic love. She seems to be a disciple of Acharya Rajneesh and Vatsyayana.

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