My Grandmothers House by Kamla Das

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My grandmother’s house
- Kamala Das

About Kamala Das:
Kamala Das is one of the best poets in contemporary Indo-Anglian literature. Kamala Das, born in Kerala in 1934, is a bilingual writer. She writes in Malayalam, her mother tongue, under the pseudonym Madhavikkutty. Her poetry is an exploration of the geography of her own mind, and the lyric is an instance of such self-exploration. Through images of repulsion and horror, she brings out the emotional emptiness and sterility of her married life, and the intensity of her misery as a wife who had to submit to her husband whom she found repulsive, and with whom she had no emotional contact at all. She has won many prizes for her work . some of them being the P. E. N. Asian Poetry Prize, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award for fiction, Asian World Prize for literature, Kendra Sahitya Academy Award etc. She was short listed for the Nobel Prize along with Marguerite Yourcenar, Doris Lessing and Nadine Gordimer. On 31 May 2009, aged 75, she died at a hospital in Pune, but has earned considerable respect in recent years. 

Themes in the Poetry of Kamala Das:

The poetry of Kamala Das is a search for the essential woman, and hence the woman persona of her poems plays the various roles of unhappy woman, unhappy wife, mistress to lusty men, reluctant nymphomaniac {A woman with abnormal sexual desires}, silent Devdasi and love-lord Radha. Kamala Das has also been called a poet in the confessional mode. The confessional poets deal with emotional experiences which are generally taboo. There is a ruthless self-analysis and a tone of utter sincerity. E.V.Ramakrishnan rightly says, “In her poetry, Kamala has always dealt with private humiliations and sufferings which are the stock themes of confessional poetry.”

Reminiscent of the Poet’s Ancestral Home:

The poem is a reminiscence {a mental understanding of the poem by people} of the poetess’ grandmother and their ancestral home at Malabar in Kerala. Her memory of love she received from her grandmother is attached with the image of her ancestral home, where she had passed some of the happiest days of her life, and where her old grandmother had showered her love and affection. With the death of her grandmother the house withdrew into silence. When her grandmother died, even the house seemed to share her grief, which is expressed in a very touching manner in the phrase “the House withdrew”. The house soon was crushed by grief and snakes crawled among books. Her blood became cold like the moon because there was none to love her the way she wanted. She understands that she cannot reclaim the past but she wants to go back home, look once again through its windows and bring back a handful of darkness – sad and painful memories, which she would have made her constant companion, to keep as a reminder of her past happiness. The poet is unable to proceed with her thoughts for sometime as is indicated by the ellipses dots. The poet is now strangled with the intensity of grief. She craves for love like a beggar going from one door to another asking for love in small change. Her need for love and acceptance is not satisfied in marriage and she goes after strangers for love at least in small quantity. But she does not get it even in small change or coins. Her love-hunger remains unsatisfied, and there is a big void, a blank within her, she seeks to fill up with love but to no advantages . The image of the window is a link between the past and the present. It signifies the desire of the poet for a nostalgic peep into her past and resurrects her dreams and desires.

The moon is being an emblem of love. The worms on the books seem like snakes at that moment, in comparison to the size of the little girl. The poet also implies that the deserted house is like a desert with reptiles crawling over. The poet now longs to 'peer' at a...
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