Relationship Dilemma Through Feministic Perspective in Kamala Das Poetry

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Relationship Dilemma Through Feminist Perspective in Kamala Das’ Poetry

by – Mohini Kaushik & Babita, Published in Vo.II, Issue.XX, September 2016

Introduction to the Authors:

Mohini Kaushik & Babita, both are assistant professors (guest faculties). Babita is also a research scholar.

Kamala Das is one of the most famous Anglo-Indian writers of the contemporary times. She is a great post – modern feminist. She is compared with the American Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. She is one of the three most significant Indian Poets – Nissim Ezekiel, A. K. Ramanujan. She is a luminary poet who has great faith in feminism. Her works in English include her poetic volumes – Summer in Calcutta (1965), The Descendants (1967), The old playhouse and other poems (1973), Tonight this savage Rite (1979), The Anamalai Poems (1985) and only the soul knows how to sing (1966).                           She has written a number of short stories in

She has written a number of short stories in Malyalam and one of her collection of Poetry named (Collected Poems) won Sahitya Academy Award in 1985. The present paper deals with comprehensive study of relationship aspects of Kamala Das’ through the Eyes of feminism.

Kamala Das is a feminist of Indian brand. Her poetry presents the view that both man and woman are complementary to each other. She does not hate man as such but she hates the manmade system as well as exploitation, subjugation in the name of social harmony. Her poetry may be labelled as the poetry of protest.

Her protest is against the injustice to which woman in India has been subjected Her all forms of writings. Several a strong feminist aspect in various forms. She has attracted international attention by virtue of her bold and uninhibited articulation of feminine urge along with other women poets like – Gauri Deshpande, Mamta Kalia etc. She has written some books of poems, i.e. ‘Summer in Calcutta’.

The descendants, The Old play house and other poems. Her poetry is a protest against male-dominated Society, Patriarchal system discrimination, exploitation. M.K. Naik Says:

“I attempt to explain the feminist voice through some of her poems in which Mrs. Das has projected a new device to elaborate the women from the bondage of slavery in man-dominated society.”

Her poetry is replete with pain and protest. Her protest against the way she is treated by her husband and other sexual partners are strong arguments in support of the rights of women. Her feminine sensibility is the governing and motivating force in her poetry.

Srinivas Iyengar writes –

“Kamala Das is a fiercely feminine sensibility that dares without inhibitions to articulate the hurts it has received in an intensive, largely, man-made world.”

Mrs. Das presents a feminist movement through her poetry. She discovers the male hegemony from the inner care of her feminine consciousness. Mrs. Das personality has its irrelaxable anchors in sexual love and when it is refused, she feels her life meaningless, barren and waste land, she bursts out in the poem “The Suicide”:

“O Sea, I am fed up,                                

 I want to be simple,                                

 I want to be loved.                                  


 If love is not to be had.                                        

 I want to be dead.”


In the poems, which express Das’ strong dissatisfaction with her conjugal life, she has protested against passivity and timidity of the Indian women and against her subservience to her husband. In her poem ‘Glass’ she complains that a man wanting to perform the sexform act with her had drawn her towards himself rudely.

Satya Dev says:

 “She is intensely conscious of herself as a woman”                

Suresh Kohli says

“Her vision is vitally particularised by the woman’s point of view”   

In one of her poems, she describes the male desire as under

“…these men who call me                     

Beautiful, not seeing                               

Me with eyes but with hands               

 And, even … even … love”.

 In this poem, the emphasis is largely on sexual love and female organs. But female sensibility in the real sense implies stress on emotional bond and Das’ feminine sensibility is not to be found in her frank confession of her sexual life or in a detailed description of female organs. In her poems like Beauty was a short season in which she expresses her fear that her youth and beauty would soon be no more:


Yes, that was a moment or Two                        

And beauty, A short season…               


 Like gnarled fruit trees

 The found season”

One significant part of the strength of Das’s exploration of the life of a woman is that it articulates the dilemmas faced by the feminine consciousness. In ‘An introduction’, she is concerned with the question of human identity.

 She protests against the general expectation that she should play a socially determined stereotyped role.

“Be any or be Kamala, or better

 still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to choose a name, a role

 Don’t play pretending games”.

In “my Grandmother’s House”, She presents the plight of female. She is expected to play certain conventional roles and her own wishes and desires are not taken account. She determines that her condition is like “a brooding dog” sitting near the bed of his master. She has become a servant and beggar in her own house.

My way and beg now at stranger’s door to receive love, at least in small changes?

In her poem “The stone Age”, she laments the loss of her identity through marriage. In the freaks, she says that although she and her husband lived together for a long time, but they failed in love as a result her heart has become an empty place. She says:

“Who can help us who have lived long so and have failed in love? The heart, An empty listen, waiting through long hours, fills itself with willing snakes of silence”.

In the freaks, she says that although she and her husband lived together for a long time, but they failed in love and as a result her heart has become an empty eastern. She is bound to lead a double life in order to show that she is normal.

So, her marriage proved as a failure because her husband treated her merely as a means of providing him with sexual qualification. There was no real love between them her husband could not think beyond flesh.

In her poem ‘ The looking Glass’, She describes her situation as under:

‘Beneath your monstrous age, I ate the magic loaf

And become a dwarf- I lost my will and reason’.

Kamala Das is a forceful and vehement feminist. She is a spokesman of the rights of woman. At the time, Kamala wrote her poetry, the Indian woman was subservient to her parents or her husband; and at that time, the question of having extra-marital relationship did not arise at all she was among the foremost woman to claim such freedom. She was one of the very few who attained this freedom and exercised it to the fullest possible extent.

Her feminism is of new kind. She refers her theory of Oedipus complex and Psychoanalytical History of Freud. She confesses that she was deprived of paternal love. In her poem “Next to Indian Gandhi”, She says to her father.


“I ask you without fear

Did you want me

Did you ever want a daughter?

Therefore, Kamala Das is the real voice of true feminism and a real feminist of Indian sense. So she is undoubtedly a feminist voice articulating the hopes and oppressions, the concerns and tensions of womankind. Her poetic voice imbued with a feminine cum feminist sensibility is typically her own and it can’t be confused with that of anyone else.



WORKS CITIED                                                                                     

Das, Kamala. The Best of Kamala Das/ Ed.P.P Raveendran, Calicut; Bodhi Publishing House, 1991

My Story. New Delhi; Sterling publisher, 1988.

Only the Soul Knows How to Sing. Kaottayam; DC Books, 1996. Print.

Iyenger, K.R. Srinivasa. Indian writing in English New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Private Limited, 2001.

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