Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Story - Kamala Das


It's true that when you grow old your perspective changes. It's so true while re-reading a book too. Many thoughts becomes clear and assumes different dimensions. That's a different experience.  The recent in the list of those books which I read again was  Kamala Das ' My Story'.  I should be very specific. I am reading it for the third time. When I first read it, about 15 years ago, the only scene that I remembered from the book was when Das ( her husband ) forcibly kissing her when they meet for the first time. Yet another scene was when her cousin kisses her near a staircase. Except those scenes I remember nothing till I read it for the third time. ( I was stuck with those scenes. It might because I was studying in a convent at that time where all such conversation were a taboo) 

Coming back to the review, 

The Nalappat house, the ancestral home of Kamala provided ample resources to take a deep plunge into the ocean of writing. Her stay in Calcutta too provided ample food for thought. As the title indicates, it is her story where she did not hide behind any hypocrisy. She came out in the open without diluting her thoughts even once. Lesbianism, her frequent love affairs, her quest for love - though she discuss themin detail, I wonder whether she had taken many of those things from the world she had created for herself.  Somewhere down the line, her all romantic expectations never went beyond a certain level. It was miles away from reaching a successful culmination. I felt she was unfortunately stuck in her thoughts and her longing for love froze before fruition.  All through her work I felt her like a reservoir. The water tapped in it wanted to take its own course. But the big walls built around it prevented it. This thought broke my heart. It was not lust she was talking about but love,pure love. 

I was also surprised by the kind of relationship she shared with her husband. She describes that her husband invites his boy friend to her home. They would shut themselves in a room and would behave as lovers.  It  hurts her. But at the same time she loves her husband too. “ When I heard his heavy footfalls on the stairs, I clapped my hands in sheer happiness”.  This was when she was staying away from her husband in Nalappat house with her younger son.  When one of her love letters ended up in her husband's hands he warns her saying that she is innocent and she should keep herself away from such fraudsters. Is n't it a strange kind of relationships. Sometimes I am forced to think that Kamala might have acknowledged that her husband is a homosexual. Because of it, Das did not have any issues with her romantic escapades. ( Am I far-fetched by pointing out this). When this was published years ago, it was a shocker in Kerala. It should be. It shredded into pieces the so called built up moralities existed in Kerala.

I would like to conclude with her quote from ' My story'  “ I sincerely believe that knowledge is exposure to life. I could never bring myself to hang my life on the pegs of quotation for safety . I never did play safe. I compromised myself with every sentence I wrote and thus burnt all the boats that would have reached me to security.”


I give 9/10