“An Introduction”- My Confessional Note.
Ms. Leelavathi Malaka. B.A (Tel Litt); M.A(MSW) Bachelors in Theology M.A(English Litt) (Retired Lecturer)
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is not as we desire it to be. It serves differently to different people. Some enjoy the platter full of dainties. Some are half filled, starved and thrown out. Some try to create something from that empty platter, to tell the world how hungry are the others. Kamala Das comes under the third category.
” An Introduction”!? A Poem of Kamala Das, The versatile queen of the South Asian Literature. a poem on herself, by herself. It is a ‘ Looking Glass’ of every thinking woman caged in Man’s world. People introduce themselves with their achievements, with their famous backgrounds. But Kamala Das’ Introduction is not an ordinary one. Its an aggressive individualistic self reflection. There are many women and men poets who portrayed beautiful lives , colourful events of women.. Their poetry takes us into utopia and makes us day dream for wonderful lives. Their poems are heartfelt, and their words are heart touching. They talk about love, sacrifice, adaptation and adjustment in life of women.
But Kamala Das is the best female poet in India whose poems and short stories are unique music of life..She is known as Malayali poet, but brought up in Kalkota. She wrote My Story one of the best writings. She was known as daring memoirist and prominent Indian poet and short story writer mostly on sexual lives of women.
Most of Kamala Das’ poetry is in English. Her pen name was Madhavi kutty and wrote in Malayalam. She was born in Malabar a South Indian state called Kerala, otherwise known as “God’s own country” .Both her mother and grandfather were poets in Malayalam. She started writing poetry in school days itself. She had won the PEN’s Asian Poetry prize . She wrote “Summer in Calcutta”, The Descendants”, ” The Old Playhouse and other Poems” and so on.
The portrait of ‘ other women’ by man is a common goal of any spectacular sphere of a life., either literature of any language; in painting, in sculpturing, in any art of life. Men wrote, described depicted, dissected woman’s mind, soul and beauty of her body.
We women read and reread the ‘other woman’ in pieces , in angels, in squares. or in any shapes. We cried, we laughed, we overwhelmed, we shouted in anger to the plight or beauty of those women. We tried to amalgamate ourselves those ‘idols’ and try to identify ourselves in or or the other.
“Don’t write in English, they said, English is Not your mother tongue” why not leave me alone? critics, friends, visiting cousins, every one of you? why not let me speak in any language I like? The language I speak, becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses, all mine, mine alone. It is half English, half Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest.”
I see myself standing there in her place arguing, disputing, discoursing with that sweet circle of my so called well wishers. –These people loved my books in my own language, they look sincere but yet ‘leave me alone’, was my answer to them just like Kamala Das.
I admired Kamala Das for her Sweet voice of Nightingale comes out from her Tigerly heart in her poems. How could she expressed my thoughts, my feelings, my musings in her poems long long back , even before I learned the ABC of the English.
The poem “An Introduction” drew me to peep into her inner soul, life, her frankness. Her beautiful visage surprised me to read her rebellious questions in seeking justice in her life.
She is a taboo to men and women, why? Because she is ‘beyond herself?’ metaphysical? Right up in the sky to speak out the language of hidden woman? She is called by names even in literary circles, as an ‘adulteress’ because her’s are confessional poems, she was hated, looked down because she deliberately expressed her sinner’s life.
Confession ! Its not secret confession, its public one. Confession needs repentance ! We don’t know how much her pillows drenched in her tears. She is a woman who never ran after fame or name or for good views of others. If she ever did seek such glittering glow, she would never had written her confessional free verse. Never worried of ‘ of what others would say’ , including her own kith and kin, including her own son. A mother usually dare not to reveal her secret life to her son at least, but she is above the myths of colored games of fame. Never she was afraid whether her reputation would tarnished by her writings.
She is there transparent, transcendent, turbulent in crystal clear glass room. Standing as an angel ,a saint, saying” Hey its me, Listen carefully, its me, Kamala Das– I am human Don’t you see?”
” It is as human as I am human, don you see? It voices my joys, my longings, my hopes,”
She wanted to find the answer to such simple question ” What is love?” The result was, horrified experience to any Sixteen years innocent girl. I imagined her as she was molested, raped and trampled by her own towering heartless creature called husband. Torn apart, abused and crushed to the utmost , swollen face in dishevelled hair, crumpled silk dress, ran out of that jungle room into weird wilderness of life.
” When I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask, for he drew a youth of sixteen into the bedroom and closed the door, he did not beat me, but my sad woman-body felt so beaten, The weight of breasts and womb crushed me I shrank pitifully.”
“People !! Why don’t you try to understand me? “—Her inner being cried aloud, I see her there in tears, sobbing, hiding in corner of life.
“..and as it is useful to be as cawing to crows or roaring to the lions, it is human speech of the mind that is here and there…..”
She is not a Pativrata, of classical myths, willing to sacrifice under the merciless blows of a man , a cruel heartless so called husband. She is not there to imitate the role of ” better-half”, she is a woman, an individual and a ‘Song Sung by Mayfly” can’t be heard, flies in search of partner, lives a day, unseen, unheard, unnoticed. But it frantically tries to fulfill its goal.
She can’t but speak out her feelings, therefore she has to write, confessional themes.
” Then I wore a shirt and my brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored my womanliness”
Her inner soul wanted to know how it would be if she could have different physique, the much coveted race, the boy, She too wanted to transform into genie of a boy. She could show the world that she is ‘boyish’, by wearing that attire of boys, who are not restricted to jump, to climb to run in the streets. What if she posses that much yearning freedom of life by dressing herself in shirt and trouser, and cropping her close to temples.
“Dress in sarees, be girl, be wife, they said. be embroiderer, be cook, be a quarreller with servant Fit in , belong, cried the catagorizers. Don’t sit on walls or peep in through our lace dragged windows. be Amy, or be Kamala or better still be Madhavi kutty. It is time to choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending genes.”
Ignoring Womanliness ?What is it in the “Text book of expectations of the society”? She being a woman ignores womanliness?
Yes, she was not that type of a girl who “who looks like an angel walks like an angel, talks like an angel’ No, all that she wanted to live two words, “Love and Freedom” Love spotless, respectable; Freedom in thought and deed. She doesn’t want to be prisoned under the disguise of womanliness, she would rather be ‘disguised devil’ as a boy–
What is wrong if I walk like a boy and enjoy all the freedom he enjoys without any Dos &Don’ts which are imposed on her , just because she is a girl.
She is betrayed, -therefore she experimented, she experienced every aspect of life of woman, objectively, studiously, respectfully. She is a scholar in woman’s body to research the encounters of woman’s life.
Man drinks liquor? Is that their right? Why they drink? Men go to brothels? Leave his wife at home and eat at hotels? Men can be friendly and go for outings, movies with ‘other woman’? Men secretly speak to women without the knowledge of family members? Men can love others and also can cheat their own?
The answer is an open book. Men work and stressed, they drink to forget their misery, they go to brothels to experiment in sex, they are friendly with other women because their wives can’t joke, they do filthy mischievous things with other girls in by ways and side ways because they are DEPRESSED.
Just because they are depressed their agony knew no bounds. They are at the verge of suicide because the wife is not ‘up to the mark’ or they could not make two ends meet. Or cheated by a woman or man. So they find solace in drinking liquor. Wife died so they need other woman immediately. They are not consolable, the liquor and women give them comfort.
Kamala questions, ” So what if I am depressed, cheated, widowed? Am I not DEPRESSED? I am also a human, I too go through the problems, I am also despaired, I too need some comfort. They drink liquor to forget their misery and to be consoled, why shouldn’t I try Liquor!?
“It is I who drinks lonely, drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns. It is I who laugh, it is I who make love then feel shame.”
At least she feels remorse, shame, repentance, unlike the other two legged HomoSapien who walks on roads shamelessly as if nothing happened. She spills her beans on the public stage, frank and clear in her thought, accepting that she is a sinner.
“It is I who lie dying with rattle in my throat, 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.”
She conferred, confessed, cajoled, and brought out everything in her life on public screen.She says she did never have happiness, which is so simple thing in life for others; they have no aches like her, she is the one who is always betrayed. She utters in low voice :
” I have no joys,……. I too call myself ‘I’
I have an identity, I have a name, I have a desire, I long, I crave, I live, I breath, I thrive, I struggle, I suffer, I too am a human, robbed of simple pleasures of life, a being betrayed of life; But I am alive, I call myself ‘I’.
With this note she ended her ” An Introduction” –of herself.
Tears rolled down on my cheeks. Here is a ‘Lady with the Lamp’ to give a chance to people to peep into the soul of a real woman. Here is a Lady shouts silently the agony of millions of voiceless Ladies.
A gentleman could imagine that life, depicts it with his intelligence but could never experience it. Only a woman , a Kamala Das could infiltrate right into the womb, heart and brain of a woman, feels , touches, tastes the life of woman. Her femininity , her transparency, her frankness, her literary skills, her language of English were her plus points to bring her to the summit of South Asian Writers and a proud South Indian to be mentioned.