Kamala Surayya / Suraiyya formerly known as Kamala Das , (also known as
Kamala Madhavikutty, pen name was Madhavikutty) was a major Indian
English poet and littérateur and at the same time a leading Malayalam author
from Kerala, India. 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.
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, but
has earned considerable respect in recent years.
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
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
Like her mother, Kamala Das also excelled in writing. Her love of poetry
began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalappatt
Narayana Menon, a prominent writer.
At the age of 15, she got married to bank officer Madhava Das, who
encouraged her writing interests, and she started writing and publishing both
in English and in Malayalam. Calcutta in the 1960s was a tumultous time for
the arts, and Kamala Das was one of the many voices that came up and
started appearing in cult anthologies along with a generation of Indian