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The Beggar and the King

  • Date Submitted: 01/07/2012 05:45 AM
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Kamala Das
Poetry ,  
Short Stories ,  
March 31, 1934
May 31, 2009
Kamala Das was a major Indian English poet and literateur and at the same time a leading Malayalam author. Her popularity in Kerala is based chiefly on her short stories and autobiography, while her oeuvre in English, written under the name Kamala Das, is noted for the fiery poems and explicit autobiography.

Kamala Das was born in Kerala. Her father was the editor of a popular Malayalam daily, and her mother a well known Malayalam poetess. She was educated at home, married at 15, and bore her first child at 16. She started writing professionally much later.

Kamala Das is bilingual, and has written poetry and novels in both English and Malayalam. Her writings, and her life itself, have attracted controversy for years. Her autobiography My Story shocked her native Kerala with its candid narration of her encounters with different men. In 1999, Kamala Das converted to Islam (and became Kamala Suraiya), claiming that only Islam could provide a woman with love and protection. This action, too resulted in a furore.

Her open and honest treatment of female sexuality, free from any sense of guilt, infused her writing with power, but also marked her as an iconoclast in her generation. On 31 May 2009, aged 75, she died at a hospital in Pune.

Early life
Kamala Das was born in Punnayurkulam, Thrissur District in Kerala, on March 31, 1934, to V. M. Nair, a former managing editor of the widely-circulated Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, and Nalappatt Balamani Amma, a renowned Malayali poetess. She spent her childhood between Calcutta, where her father was employed as a senior officer in the Walford Transport Company that sold Bentley and Rolls Royce automobiles, and the Nalappatt ancestral home in Punnayurkulam.

Like her mother, Kamala Das also excelled in writing. Her love of...


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