My Story by Kamala Das – Book Review - Ajeesh Venugopalan

My Story by Kamala Das – Book Review

The Rise of the Marketing Scientists
March 27, 2019
March 28, 2019

Poetry does not grow ripe for us; we have to grow ripe enough for the poetry. Rightly said by Kamala Das in her Autobiography “My Story”; is no less than poetry in itself initially addressed to a prudish reading community in Kerala. More than an autobiography, I felt like it rang the bell as a wake-up call, to act against unjust in several ways for a minority of Indian women in the early 70’s who were undergoing patriarchal oppression. The more traditional folks of Kerala denied access to it from the women readers branding it immoral. No doubt to say, she was far ahead of her time. Almost forty years after she wrote her story, the civilization has indeed gone backward with marital rapes, child abuses or the brutal cases like the Nirbhaya still evoking the pain and testing endurance against times. Sad not to witness the evolution of civilization but for the technology and little increment in numbers what we call economics.

Kamala Das tears her self-image with absolute honesty or without having any self-pity just like Gandhi did in his autobiography “My Experiments with Truth.” Her first experience of discrimination came as a dark student when she was studying at a European school in Calcutta. Her lesbian experiences on a train journey to Nalappat followed by an early marriage and marital rape as she explains is indeed poignant.
While critics say most of it is a result of her wild imagination which she had later admitted to being true, the book is written in a chronological directive while was being treated for suspected leukaemia at a Bombay hospital. We believe that a human mind could travel far and wide when it’s on a journey of life and death. Hence it is entirely possible that it is her concoction and desire to complete her incomplete self while she was still alive. He thirst for love and lust clearly differentiated with evidence in her writings.


She has criticized the traditional arranged marriages where the mates are highly dissimilar. She reflected on her marriage as a flop and sustained it to save the face of the family. Her father who was a former editor in Mathrubhumi has tried to stop the book’s publication. However, it was against the will of a strong mind.  Moreover, her publisher knew the value, and it had to turn into an evergreen classic.
Poems as epigraphs in some of the chapters are a fascinating read and a testimony to the great poet she is eternal. One of my personal favourites is the following:

When I
Sleep, the outside
World crumbles, all contacts
Broken. So in that longer sleep
The world
Shall die, and I
Remain, just being
Also being a remaining.

Being a frequent speaker in various literary forums, she went on to become one of the most admired poets of our times. Known for courting controversy through words and actions, she accepted Islam and adopted a new pen name at the later stages of her life. Probably she saw her Krishna and remained as his Meera in eternal bliss posthumous.
The world
Shall die, and She
Remain, just being
Also being a remaining.
For one such eternal poet of our time.

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