Analysis of My Story by Kamala Das

Kamala Das hails from India and is famous for her collection of Short Stories, poetry and her famed Autobiography My Story.

The autobiography starts off with Kamala Das sand her family hybridizing into the customs of British Culture. It is interesting and ironic that she accepted European rulers with bonhomie.

She talks of herself and her brother being bullied by whites in school. Is she contradicting herself?
Again Kamala talks of Indian Patriotism. Her father asks her to shed of all ornaments and wear Khadi Saris. Is she a confused soul? On the one hand she accepts British rule and on other hand she displays Indian patriotism.

Kamala has a wounded childhood. Her parent’s behavior is oxymoronic. She describes her father as being crude and her mother has being refined and sophisticated.
It is political irony that she admires Hitler and Mussolini whose photos were being displayed in newspapers. They have turned out to be the worst tyrants of History.

Kamala_DasKamala Das talks of her childhood days of belonging to family of literary cognoscenti. From her writings it is very clear she was highly Europeanized.
Kamala Das is fond her aunt and at her death she found many poems dedicated to Krishna.

It’s an interesting fact that while she was in school, a girl named Devaki wrote a love letter for her. Actually the reality is that Kamala did not know of sexuality till marriage.
Kamala Das talks of her grand uncle who was an avid reader and a collector of books. She also mentions him of joining the Theosophical movement. Is her narrative a fashionable cosmetic? After deconstruction texts are canopy of being interpreted. Claims to intellectualism can be a sham.

Kamala Das recalls her experiences her life in boarding school. This was a time when she got infatuated. She always dreamt of being a princess. Her mind was clouded with thoughts of fetish narcissism. Very early in life she embraced the idea of bourgeoisie capitalism.

It’s interesting to note Kamala transition to adolescence. When she menstruated she thought she was going to die. Her mother guffawed it and gave her sanitary napkins.
I admire Kamala Das for having no color of religious prejudice. Many of her father’s staff were Muslims. When the Hindu Muslim riots broke out, she was vociferously against these riots.

Kamala in a narrative recounts a young man who visited her, a charming intellectual who had a crush on her and who kissed her on the lips. It was an epiphany of coming to terms with one’s sexuality.

Kamala recalls when she was young, she was forced into marriage. Her husband was crude lecherous creature, quite to her disappointment, she being very romantic. Kamala talks of her first night where she was literally raped by her husband.
Her husband was a beastly character. There is one instance where he locked the first born in the kitchen as a punishment and he had to stay there for the whole night.
There is moment in her life when she almost insane. It is quite clear that she was wounded soul with the heart of poetry.

Kamala talks of many experiences which made her a writer. One is her husband’s beastliness of wanting to plunder her in bed. This was a too harsh string for her. Then came the sights and smells of Calcutta. She became thrilled to see Eunuchs dancing in the street. Numerous were sexual escapades. All of her life she was looking for ideal love. She was in conflict with love and confused about the difference between Platonic and Erotic love. Yes Kamala Das was blatant in violating the shibboleths of Kerala culture.
There came an instance in Kamala’s life, after the publishing of her autobiography, My Story, she became estranged from her husband.

 

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Analysis of the Poetry of Kamala Das

Kamala Das (penname) of Madhavakutti is a celebrated poet and distinguished author. Notable are her poems emanating from her soul and so to speak lofty as a mountain is her autobiography—My Story.
Here are her words: “Why not let me speak in any language I like? The language I speak is my mine, mine alone. It voices my joys, my longings and my hopes.”
In the poem—Dance of the Eunuchs she paints a vibrant picture of eunuchs dancing and making gay. Yet their merriment is tinged with sadness. She uses a simile to describe their limbs—‘their limbs were dry, like burnt logs from funeral pyres’.
The Freaks is a poem of melancholic lust. Kamala describes her lover using the tropes: ‘his mouth is a dark cavern where stalactites of uneven teeth gleam’. The poem talks of a failed love and catharsis of agony. She compares the heart to an empty cistern. Is passion reaching the solitude of death?
The Poem: Words echo some bizarre tropes. The tropes used are unique and flank a stiletto of music. She compares words to growing leaves. Again she paints an analogy of words to paralyzing waves. She propels words and likens it to a knife that will cut deep into veins.
The Poem: Pigeons is a poem where there is the use of personification. She describes the lanes as being fevered. Again the Sun is compared to a swollen fruit.
The Fear of the Dark uses stark and profound tropes. Desire is compared to an idle bed. Dreams thrust their paws. Are dreams that subdue the poetic mind?
The Poem Love voices a paradox, a wanting desire to express lust and at the same time a feeling of aversion for it. The poet personifies the Sun to a burning mouth. She describes pleasure to a deliberate gaiety of trumpets. She observes crows flying like poison on wings. Why does she use an ironic simile? Why does she picture an analogy of a dirge? The pathos of coming to terms with death is so poignantly portrayed. The poet uses a simile in describing how her blood turned cold like the moon. Is the poet coming to terms with her sexuality? The poet uses another simile in describing the head to being darkness into her bedroom and lay it there like a brooding dog.
The poem: The Wild Bougainvillea is picturesque with an army of tropes. The poet is filled with wanderlust and has a restless mind. She compares days passing by to mourners behind a brier. The bed is of no rest for the poet and is compared to a tossing sea. The poet yearns for lovers. The poet is fond of taking walks. The poet is fascinated by the charm of young and old faces. The poet describes walking in the night and seeing whores clamoring for prospective clients.
In the poem: Winter the poet speaks of sensual amorous love. The poet says that she loved his body without shame. The poet personifies cold winds chuckling against window panes.
In the poem relationship: the poet describes her lover who is betraying her. She describes his love as one of being in pulchritude but impure. The poet is in conflict with her body and the mind The poet compares betrayal to death.
In the Poem: An apology to Goutama the poet narrates about a Platonic love with the great Buddha.
The end of spring is an elegy. She talks of her lover calling her on the phone. Then the verses diverge to the depiction of spring. She uses a brilliant trope: a simile to describe the streets. The street outside is moist and dark like the limbs of sleeping girls. Again she describes spring to dehydrated grapes.
The poem –The Flag depicts strange connotations of the flag. Orange is personified as a fire that eats us all. The poet melancholizes the picture into a drain of doom. White in the flag stands for purity and that can never be found. Are we all sin stained people living in the abyss of the earth? Is the poet tuning into her own waywardness? The green in the flag stands for a paradise where even the poor exist. The wheel in the flag stands for a time arrested falsely. The poet uses an interesting personification.
In the poem: Loud Posters, the poet laments at her own expression of her own feelings in verse. The poet is queasy at portraying her lustful amorous nature.
In the poem: Sepia Tree there is desperation and woe in the poet’s verse. The poet laments at the folly of the human race.
In the poem early autumnal nights, the poet uses a variety of tropes. Leaves do not rest but raise themselves to perform and ugly dance. She compares autumnal nights to something that has come soon, parting with the hunger of her lips.
In the poem the Child of the factory: the poet carves a dirge. She is a child who has taken off her clothes and feels catholic and confessional.
In the Poem love, the poet is contented person. She is satisfied with the pleasures of life.
In the poem some on else’s song she compares herself to a million people talking with voices. Is she being coherent? Is her voice vulnerability in streams of consciousness? Again the poet says she is a million deaths and million births and million silences. Is she an ego maniac?
The poem—with its quiet tongue uses an array of interesting tropes. My heart is wretched like pale green mirrors. The poet is sunk in an existential delirium of angst. She talks about what a woman gains in a love affair. Passions are not a death but a sleep. The poet is in a narcissism of sexual lethargy.

Menstrual Blood

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Derrida

I was reminded of this term by the renowned poetess Kamala Das who said: feed it as a hunger to your man. When a whore told me she can’t fix up an appointment because she is having her periods, I got second thoughts about it. For me, menstrual blood is a positive term and I have transformed it into the jargon of Philosophy. As an idiom it means Binary Fusion, a term I coined after the Philosopher Derrida’s term: Binary Divide. Texts which do not marginalize or privilege anyone is called as Binary Fusion texts. Black, Colored and White all have to coexist harmoniously in Binary Fusion. Indian English is prejudiced by South East Asians who recruit Native Speakers to teach English and it’s high time that they be reconciled into Binary Fusion. Jazz and Blues are the greatest gifts of Black culture and they carry strong connotations of being hybridized into binary fusions.

Ode to Kamala Das

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Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of
Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts,
The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your
Endless female hungers …” – The Looking Glass

Kamala,
I don’t
Mourn in
Decadent
Elegies
For you…
I have no regrets
For your wayward
Life…
Your words echo
Tidings of rich
Language
Endowed with
The sweet
Rhythms of poetry…
I have felt a poetic
Passion for your
Sensual body …
Its musk has
Pulpited my loins
With the
Temptation
Of music ….
More poignant I have
Become a lover
Of your words…
Their
Majestic charm…
Your ironies
And dirges
Have made
My soul
Bound in
Fathoms of
A talking
Brook….
Your metaphors
Lull the soul
To a rhyming
Streams of
Consciousness …
Your
Personifications
Dizzy gratitude
In the stringed
Lyre of the heart….
Your
Similes streak
A lightening
And Venus
Shines as a
Swollen breast.
I admire for
The many lovers
You’ve had….
Your body is
An exodus
Of poetic
passion….
Yes, I am
Reading you
Now …..
An opera
Is plucking
The harp
Of my heart….