FRUSTRATION AND IDENTITY CRISIS: IN THE SELECTED POEMS OF KAMALA DAS
Ahmad Reza Taheri
This presentation (10 minutes) was presented at the National Seminar on Indian Writing in English and in English Translation, Department of English, University of Pune, India (25 – 27 FEB 2009).
The gist of the presentation:
Kamala Das is known for honesty and exploration of hidden emotions of a female mind at an international level through her confessional writings. Kamala Das speaks out her heart based on her own premises. She struggles to cope with her problems and dilemmas. She feels exploited and cheated by the civilization of which she is a part.
Poem Composition is about love and is pessimistic in tone. She looks into the minds of women and expresses their worlds: “growth is the real tragedy of life, not death.”
Poem An Introduction voices the poet’s quest for identity and fulfillment. She speaks clearly in the guise of a sixteen year old girl who rebels against the norms of patriarchal society to defend and secure her identity. She criticizes the institution of marriage which gives to man a legal right to commit marital rape on his teenage bride.
Poem Descendants pretends that she dare not show herself as what actually she feels as a happy wife and woman and therefore loses her true identity.
Poem The Sunshine Cat presents an attractive, sensitive, and creative woman caught in a loveless marriage. She suffers a nervous breakdown and becomes a cold half dead woman.
Poem Luminol talks of physical love. She finds herself profoundly alone and longs for some peace from her inner conflicts. The sexual union makes her most miserable. She tries to escape from her sexual frustration, but in vain.
Poem The Old Play House compares her life before marriage and after marriage. She was happy and free, singing and dancing before marriage. But, she finds no more singing and dancing after marriage.
Poem The Looking Glass brings out the fate of women in a male dominated society. They must accept their role as a sex toy passively. She is confused and does not know what her actual role is and faces loss of identity.
Poem My Grandmother’s House recalls her childhood in her grandmother’s house and the memory of her grandmother and her house makes her sad. She does not want to identify herself as a wife rather wants to be the little girl, who was happy and whom everybody loved.
Poem I Shall Some Day speaks about death and decay. Again she tells of her unhappiness and marital life in her husband’s house. She is so miserable and frustrated that she thinks of death.
Love and sexuality are strong components in her search for female identity. The world of Kamala Das is exclusively concerned with the personal experience of love expressed in her poetry.