Google has honoured Kamala Das, one of India’s popular writer with a doodle. The poet who also wrote short stories is known for her writings on women’s issues including their sexual lives, child care and politics. Kamala was born on March 31, 1934, to V M Nair, who was a former managing editor of Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, and Nalapat Balamani Amma, a known Malayali poet in Thrissur District of Kerala. She courted controversy when she converted to Islam at the age of 68 and changed her named to Kamala Suraiya. She is regarded as one of the influential feminist writers and adopted the pen name Madhavi Kutty.
She won a number of awards including the Sahitya Academy award in 1984. Kamala wrote both in her mother tongue Malayalam as well as in English on various topics. She earned the title ‘The Mother of Modern Indian English Poetry’ for her extensive contribution to poetry in the country. Her writings have inspired many, mostly women struggling who suffered sexual oppression and domestic violence. Her writings were often criticised for being too liberal and its details of sexuality. Some of her relatives even tried to stop the publication of her books for the same reason.
Kamala was married at the age of 15 to Madhava Das, a banker by profession who encouraged her to write. Her autobiography ‘My Story’ was disregarded for openly talking about issues that were considered taboo in those days. ‘My Story’ talks about her unfulfilling marriage to an older man that brought along problems to her as a young wife and mother. It also has details of her husband’s apparent homosexuality and how she went through an emotional breakdown and had suicidal thoughts.
Kamala passed away on May 31, 2009, at the age of 75 after suffering from acute diabetes and related illnesses. She has recently been in news for a movie being made on her life story. The biopic titled ‘Aami’ directed by Kamal has Malayalam actor Manju Warrier playing Kamala. However, a petition has been filed in the Kerala High Court seeking a ban stating it justified love jihad. Earlier, Vidya Balan was supposed to play the role of Kamala Das in the movie.