“A Hot Noon in Malabar' by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

The poetess recalls some of her experiences in her home in Malabar. She thinks of the hot noon-time when all sorts of persons used to pass her home and to pause and to stop there in order to sell the wares which they carried from place to place. She first thinks of the beggars who used to come to her house to beg alms in their characteristic voices expressive of their discontent with life and their need for charity. 

Then she thinks of the men who came from the hills with parrots in a cage and fortune-cards, all stained because of the long time during which those cards had been used again and again. She thinks of the brown-complexioned girls who belonged to the class of basket-makers and manufacturers of bird-catching traps. These girls were palm-readers who offered, in their monotonous voices, to read the palms of those who wanted their fortunes told on the basis of the lines on their palms. 

The poetess then recalls the bangle-sellers who had walked miles and miles of the dusty roads in order to sell their bangles of various colours (red, green and blue). Next, she thinks of the strangers who used to come and peep into her house through the window-curtains but were unable to see anything because the rooms of the house were dark while their eyes carried the heat and the brightness of sunlight in them. The strangers were suspicious about how they might be received and what treatment they might get from the inmates of the house. These strangers remained silent most of the time but, when they spoke, they did so in voices which were wild like the sounds that are heard in a jungle. 

The poetess then expresses the view that noon-time in Malabar was not only a time for the visits of wild men but also for wild thoughts to enter her mind, and for a wild desire for love-making to arise in her mind. The poetess laments the fact that she is now living so far away from her Malabar home. She experiences an intense longing to go back there and to look at all those men at whom she used to look during her life there. The feeling that she is now so far away from that home is a torture to her.