A QUEST FOR THE UNKNOWN: KAMALA DAS AS A POET OF BODY AND SEXUAL ASPIRATIONS
Sex has been one of the most pre-dominant themes in the works of Kamala Das. Time and again she exploits this theme in delineating the relationship between her male female characters. Unlike other Indian women writers, she does not resort to oblique or indirect reference to sex or love-making, rather takes up a bold and hitherto unexploited approach towards sex. As once stated by Wordsworth that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; Kamala Das epitomizes this utterance and let loose a series of emotions which find place not only in her poetic works but also her short stories and novel.
For rendering colour and life to her expressions, Kamala Das chooses words and the language which has a uniqueness of their own. Though, for a first time reader, she may turn out to be more explicit and going little overboard in her treatment of sexual love, a careful and minute study of her works will leave her readers smitten with her charisma. When her autobiography was published in a serialised form in the newspapers, it took the prudish Kerala society by storm and created a lot of furore in the middle class social circles of the time. She was pressurised by the people around her including her father, then the Managing Director of Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi into stalling her publication but our writer was too courageous to be intimidated by these antics. She has a free and indomitable spirit which is truly bent upon asserting her own freedom and creating a considerable and substantial niche among contemporary Indo-Anglian writers.
Kamala Das mentions in her autobiography ‘My Story’, ‘A writer’s raw material is not stone or clay; it is her personality’. It, sometimes, compels her readers to ponder whether the sexual love depicted in her works does have a direct or to the least, an indirect bearing of her own sexual experiences in life. Kamala Das was exposed to the sexual advances quite early in her life. During her schooling at Punnayurkulam, she had a firsthand experience of homosexuality when she is handed over love letters by a plump girl, her schoolmate, Devaki. Her stay in the boarding school also brought her face to face with the lives of nuns who were deprived of their sexual life and behaved in a frustrated and sadist way. She realises that sex is a big taboo in conservative Malayali society. Even the married women could not discuss it among themselves. Kamala Das writes
No wonder the women of the best Nair families never mentioned sex. It was their principal phobia. They associated it with violence and bloodshed. They had been fed on the stories of Ravana who perished due to his desire for Sita and of Kichaka, who was torn to death by Draupadi’s legal husband Bhima only because he coveted her.
She also finds her hostel mates getting infatuated towards the boys of their age. She herself admits of getting sexually attracted towards the different boys...