MAN-WOMAN RELATIONSHIP IN THE POETRY OF KAMAL DAS
India is a unity in diversity and its literature also gives the same fragrance. Modern Indian English poetry emerged at the end of the Second World War after the end of colonialism. It is one of the many 'new literatures' which began at that time. It is also a fact that modern Indian poetry in English has been neglected by the most of the critics, foreign readers and intellectuals as compare to the creative writings of Africa and the Caribbean. The reason is that it has no obvious and direct relationship to the cultural movements which led to national independence. But by 1947, the situation had changed and with it the concern of the new poets became their relationship to and alienation from the realities of their society. They got a hard challenge from older nationalist writers and from regionalists who demanded a renaissance of the culture of pre-colonial languages of India.
Now English is no longer the language of colonial rulers. It is a language of modern India in which words and expressions have recognized national significances and references. English is not the language of ordinary people. It is the language of those who govern, communicate, produce and make decisions at the national level. Words, phrases, expressions of modern Indian English poetry show the local realities, Indian traditions and ways of feeling. Such Indianization is present in the poetry of Kamala Das, Pritish Nandy and more strongly in the works of Keki Daruwala. It is more commonly present in terms of voice and stress in the poetry of Nissim Ezekiel and Jayant Mahapatra.
Indian English poetry is become a part of the process of modernization which includes urbanization, industrialization, independence and social change and resulting the evolution of an English language culture alongside that of Hindi and the regional languages. Despite continuing attacks on the Indian English poets, their place in modern Indian culture is recognized.
The Indian English poets as a group tend to be marginal to traditional Hindi society not only by being alienated by their English language education but also by belonging from such communities as the Parsis, Jews and Christians or being a rebel from Hinduism and Islam or by living in foreign countries. Many poets of Indian English language come from westernized Indian families and several poets were sent to boarding schools in their childhood. They often do not have local roots.
The Indian English poet's decision to use English as a language of writing poetry is not only influenced by education but also by the poor state of regional language poetry. In this regard, a critic of Kamala Das says that:
"When she began writing in English, there was no modern poetry in Malayalam." Manohar Shetty also has the same views regarding his regional language poetry or literature. He opines that:
"In Tulu (the language of his family) there is no creative literature."
Many Parsi poets writing in English language may be explained by the fact that Parsi-Gujrati is a dialect without a tradition of serious and creative literature.
Many of the poets have been particularly active in translating from regional languages. Ramanujan is famous for his translations from classical and medieval Tamil and modern Kannada, Jayant Mahapatra from Oriya, Kolatkar from Marathi, Patel from Gujarati, Mehrotra from Hindi and Nandi's translations Bengali are known to every one who is familiar with Indian English poetry.
Kamala Das is the most distinctive and unique voice in Indian English poetry in particular and the whole Indian literary scene in general. She brings a most noticeable and directly perceptible feminine sensibility and an explicit, undisguised, natural idiom in her poems. Recognized as one of the foremost poets of India, Kamala Das was born on March 31, 1934 in Malabar in Kerala. By the influence of her great uncle Nalapat Narayan Menon who is a prominent writer, her love poetry began at an early age. Kamala Das remembers watching him "work from morning till night" and thinking that he had a blissful life. Kamala Das was also greatly affected by the poems of her mother, Nalapat Balamani Amma, and the sacred writings kept by the matriarchal community of Nayars. She was married to K. Madhava Das at the tender age of fifteen. She herself says in her interview that she "was mature enough to be a mother only when my third child was born." Her husband "often played a fatherly role for both Das and her sons". There is a big age difference between kamala Das and her husband.
When Kamala Das wished to begin writing, her husband supported her decision only because of his want of improving the income of the family. However, she could not enjoy the morning - till - night schedule like her great uncle. She would wait till night to write. In an interview, she accepts:
"there was only the kitchen table where I would cut vegetables, and after all the plates and things were cleared, I would sit there and start typing."
At the age of 65, in 1999, she converted Hindu to Islam and became Kamala Das to Suraiya. She had the view that only Islam could provide a woman love and protection.
Kamala Das began to write at the tender age of six and after that she gave a number of remarkable and memorable works. She has the great writing skill both in poetry and prose. She has the perfect hand both in prose and verse. She wrote effectively in both the languages i.e. in English and in Malayalam. In English language, she published her first work in 1964 titled as 'The Sirens'. After that 'Summer in Calcutta ' in 1965, 'The Descendants' in 1967, 'The Old Playhouse and Other Poems' in 1973, 'My Story' in 1976, 'Alphabet of Lust' in 1977, 'The Anamalai' in 1985, 'Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories' in 1992, 'Only the Soul Knows How to Sing' in 1996 and 'Yaa Allah' in 2001 were published. Among them 'My Story' is an autobiography, 'Alphabet of Lust' is a novel, 'Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories' is a collection of short stories and the remaining are the collections of poems.
In the language of Malayalam, she wrote 'Pakshiyude Manam' in 1964, 'Naricheerukal Parakkumbol' in 1966, 'Thanuppu' in 1968, 'Balyakala Smaranakal' in 1987, 'Varshangalkku Mumbu' in 1989 and 'Palayan' in 1990.
Kamala Das received many national and international awards for her great literary contribution. Some of them are Asian Poetry Prize, Kent Award for English Writing from Asian Countries, Asan World Prize, Ezhuthachan Award, Sahitya Academy Award, Vayalar Award and Kerala Sahitya Academy Award.
Kamala Das is a poet of many facets and moods. She is a poet of free love. Love is the lynch-pin round which the poetry of Kamala Das revolves. Her unfilled need for love is the main treatment in her poems. Love is a complex and multi-dimensional human experience in her poetry. It has physical, emotional and spiritual moods in the poetry of kamala Das. Love and hate are often neighbors in her poetry. The theme of alienation is also present in the poems written by her. Because of her disillusionment and alienation from this physical world, she gives the note of protest with feminism in her poetry. Apart from these themes, the theme of glorifying the womanhood is also grabbing our attention. Her poems are mainly concerned with her uncaring husband, her childhood, her marriage, love, life and her intimacy others. Kamala Das delights in celebrating herself in her essential feminine self. Kamala Das is not only a poet of Indian English language, but she is an age herself.
The treatment of man-woman relationship is the main and most important theme of the poems of Kamala Das. Although the treatment of man- woman relationship in her poetry is something subjective, but it is also true for general life of common man common woman. In her famous poem 'The Freaks', Kamala Das talks about the disgust relationship of a husband and wife. In this poem she concludes about the base of the husband- wife relationships in the following lines:
"But, they only wander, tripping Idly over puddles of Desire...can't this man with Nimble finger-tips unleash Nothing more alive than the Skin's lazy hungers?"
Here she has the view that only physical relation cannot give a perfect touch to a man-woman i.e. a husband-wife relationship. She asks:
"Who can Help us who have lived so long And have failed in love?"
Meaning is that love is necessary to build a healthy and long lasting relationship between anyone. Only physical relationship is not able to bind the two persons.
In her another poem 'The Sunshine Cat', she also talks about the same kind of loveless relationship of the man and woman. She complains:
"... the man she loved who loved her not enough...
the husband who neither loved nor used her
and concludes the fate of this loveless bond of man - woman relationship in the following way: "a bed made soft with tears and she lay there weeping.."
Hence, in the poetry of kamala das, she strongly recommends that the presence of love is necessary to make any kind of healthy and long lasting relationship between man and woman. Whether it is a bond of husband and wife or lover and beloved or it is bond of mother and son, all types of man-woman relationship can be made only by a bond of love.