New Delhi: Google on Thursday paid a tribute to popular Malayalam and English writer and poetess Kamala Das with a colorful doodle to mark the date of publication of her autobiography, Kamala DasMy Story (Ente Katha). Fondly known as Aami, and Madhavikutty, she is known for daring writing about women sexuality and marital problems at a time when they were considered a taboo. Born into an aristocratic Hindu Nair family, Aami converted to Islam when she was 68 years old and came to be known as Kamala Surayya. In over 20 books that she had written, Aami was considered as one of the most influential feminists of her time and earned the title “The Mother of Modern English Poetry”.
In a blog post, Google said Das was “a woman determined to live life on her own terms. The Doodle celebrates the work she left behind, which provides a window into the world of an engrossing woman.” The autobiography was celebrated as much as it was criticized for being about a woman in the 1970s who spoke of her sexual desires and extra marital affairs.
Her writings considered detailed descriptions about menstruation, love, lust, lesbian relationships, child marriages, infidelity among other things. She also wrote about her ‘being in love’ with a teen just before her own marriage. Das was married off at the age of eighteen. In an interview, she said her husband K Madhava Das supported the idea of her being a contributor to the family income and also spoke about her relationship with him.
“My husband appreciated the fact that I was trying to supplement the family income. So, he allowed me to write at night. After all the chores were done, after I had fed the children, fed him, clearned up the kitchen, I was allowed to sit awake and write till morning. And that affected my health. He was everything to me. He was father, brother, husband so they say, friend. Another point was he didn't care what I wrote really. He did not even read it. It was not consciously done. He disliked reading poetry. But he accepted my poetry. She's a great writer, she's a great poet, he would tell people, almost embarrassing me. But he was very proud of me. That is why I lost someone who was very proud of me. There shall not be another person so proud of me and my achievements. There was only one,” she said in an interview. The couple had three sons.
Her conversion to Islam had created quite a stir in Kerala. While there are many theories behind her conversion, it is said that she converted to marry a former MP and MLA from Kottakal, who had promised to marry her if she converted but never kept his word.