Kamala Surayya (Das) .

Kamala Surayya(Das)

(31 March 1932 – 31 May 2009)

To many she was a shameless bitch to others she represented the fearless Indian woman who wasn’t ashamed of expressing herself and questioning the orthodoxies of Indian society.

When I read her for the first time, I have to admit, I was both stumped and scandalized by her poetry.

The long drugged male chauvinist in me suddenly woke and questioned the morality of her works, “how dare she write something like this?”

Further reading only made me admire her courage, what might have it been to write feminist and erotic poetry in her time;to question male supremacy?

Her death is sure to leave a vacuum in Indian Feminist Poetry for a long time to come.

I leave you with two of my favorite Kamala Surayya poems.


You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her

in the long summer of your love so that she would forget

not the raw seasons alone and the homes left behind, but

also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless

pathways of the sky. It was not to gather knowledge

of yet another man that I came to you but to learn

what I was and by learning, to learn to grow, but every

lesson you gave was about yourself. You were pleased

with my body’s response, its weather, its usual shallow

convulsions. You dribbles spittle into my mouth, you poured

yourself into every nook and cranny, you embalmed

my poor lust with your bitter-sweet juices. You called me wife,

I was taught to break saccharine into tea and

to offer at the right moment vitamins. Cowering

beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and

became a dwarf. I lost my will and reason, to all your

questions I mumbled incoherent replies. The summer

begins to pall. I remember the ruder breezes

of the fall and the smoke from burning leaves. Your room is

always lit by artificial light, your windows, always

shut. Even the air-conditioned helps so little,

all pervasive is the male scent of your breath. The cut flowers

in the vases have begun to smell of human sweat. There is

no more singing, no more dance, my mind is an old

playhouse with all its lights put out. The strong man’s


is always the same. He serves his love in lethal doses

for love is Narcissus at the water’s edge haunted

by its lonely face, and, yet it must seek at last

an end, a pure, total freedom, it must will the mirrors

to shatter and the kind night to erase the water.


Do not look into Radha’s eyes O friends

For her soul lies dead inside

As cobwebs block the doorways, unused,

Grief now mars her lonely eyes

He has been gone for years, that Krishna who

Once was hers alone. Perhaps

Another holds him now, a lovelier and

More fortunate one. And yet

Poor Radha must live on, for life is long.


5 Responses to “Kamala Surayya (Das) .”

  1. June 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Soulful poetry! Stunning play of words.

  2. 2 sm
    June 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    good post like it.

  3. 3 shakeer alavil
    June 28, 2009 at 10:00 am

    good personality allahu anugrahikkumaragatte

  4. 5 prashant p dharmadhikari,pune
    November 25, 2009 at 8:24 am

    its stunning,i salute the originality of thought and the courage to express the same.Kamla Das pines for pure ,unattached love which she could not manage to get from anyone except her poetry.her poetey has a scent of feminist rebellion and resistance.
    such geniuses are seldom produced by this land.

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