I am Indian, very brown, born in Malabar,
I speak three languages, write in two, dream in one.
This is how Kamala Das described herself in her poem, an introduction. Born on March 31, 1934, Kamala was known for her jagged-honest writings on feminism and female sexuality.
Das got her writing genes from father VM Nair, who was once the Managing Editor of Malayalam daily “Mathrubhumi”, and her mother Nalapat Balamani Amma, a Malayali poet. Her maternal uncle, Nalapat Narayana Menon, was a writer too.
She was married off at the age of 15 to bank employee Madhava Das. It is said that her husband strongly encouraged her to pursue writing. Eventually, Das started writing in both English and Malayalam. And she was published too.
After years of daring feminist poems and writings, Das came out with her autobiography in Malayalam, titled Ente Katha. It was later translated in English and named, My Story.
Later in life, Das had converted to Islam and taken the name of Kamala Surayya.
On 31 May 2009, aged 75, she died at a hospital in Pune.
On 3 February 2010 India Post has issued special cover on the occasion of National Seminar in honour of Kamala Surayya 2010.
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