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Showing posts with label Kamala Das. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kamala Das. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2021

"Luminol" by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

"Luminol", written by Kamala Das, is an autobiographical poem antholozised in her 1973 collection of poems The Old Playhouse and Other Poems. "Luminol" is the name of a sleep-inducing pill. Luminol as a tile for this short, fourteen-line poem is intended by Kamala Das to express her longing for a deep slumber from which nothing can rouse or awaken her. Her husband's treatment of her, especially when he performs the sexual act with her, has been making her most miserable because of its roughness and because of the noisy gestures and movements which he makes at that time. She refers to him as the "ruthless one,” clumsy with noise and movement". She does not want him to enter the mute arena of her soul" (meaning her soul's territory which would not brook any encroachment), and she can ensure his exclusion from that zone by "a silent sleep inside her sleep". What she means to say is that, although she cannot stop him or prevent him from performing the sexual act which is purely physical or lustful in his case, she can prevent him from disturbing her soul's peace, though she can prevent him from doing so only if she has taken some drug like luminol to send her into a deep slumber. 

 This poem was published in Kamala Das's third volume of poems which appeared in 1973 under the heading of "The Old Playhouse and Other Poems". A critic* regards this poem as one of the most moving Kamala Das has written. This critic thinks that this poem shows Kamala Das as a neurotic person who finds herself profoundly alone and longs for some peace from her inner conflicts. According to the same critic, Kamala Das has played out her role as an unhappy woman in many poems. She has been unhappy wife and unhappy as a mistress to many men. Her nymphomania (that is, her insatiable hunger for sexual gratification) had brought her nothing but misery, and she had therefore been seeking an escape from her memory of her sexual frustrations. As no real escape from memory is possible, she can only think of some drug like luminol to lull her to a deep sleep. 

 This poem is most irregularly written. There are some lines which are moderate in length, some which consist of only four or three or two words; and there are at least two lines consisting of only one word each. Although we do agree that it is a very moving poem, its irregular form is somewhat irritating to us. We are of the opinion that a poet should not take such extreme liberties with the technique of writing poetry. However, Kamala Das is not alone in this respect because, unfortunately, almost every Indo-Anglian poet has taken such liberties.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Melancholy and Masochism in the poetry of Kamala Das



Kamala Das, a famous novelist and poetess in the history of Indo-Anglian Literature, has proved her a true feminist and also shows the hidden face of female masochism and unreal identity of the men in her poetry. On this K. N. Daruwalla points out that, "Kamala Das is pre-eminently a poet of love and pain, one stalking the other through a near neurotic world. There is an all-pervasive sense of hurt throughout. Love, the lazy animal hunger of the flesh, hurt, and humiliation are the warp and woof of her poetic fabric. She seldom ventures outside this personal world."

The manner of her writing has similarity with the works of other Women Writers such as Toru Dutta, Anita Desai, Nayantara Sehgal, and Shashi Desh Pandey. Anita Desai's Cry the Peacock in which she clearly expressed her philosophy towards the most questioning trenchantly the pseudo irrationally resulting in their hibernation, masochism, narcissism, schizophrenia, exile and loss of identity. In order to give it the originality, she never tried to suppress the nuance of female psyche. She has used the psychological genre of Freud in the perspective of gender and sexuality, which determine the theory of femininity. Regarding this point of view, it can descript that Das's attitude towards sex is akin to Freud's discovery of sexuality in which the step by step open the reality or psychology behind sex and fantasy. In this reference we can take example of D.H. Lawrence's sexual harmony which was an essential condition for attainment of happiness in life. Likewise Lawrence, Das has chosen the concept of sex differently, and she did not use it as dry, monotonous and vulgar way, which we generally see in pornographic literature. Her sexual portrayal is always tinged with verbal overtones, metaphor, and symbols. She says;

                  I met a man, loved him, call

                  Him not by any name, he is every man,

                  Who wants a woman, just as I am every

                  Woman who seeks love. In him….the hungry taste

                  Of rivers in me ….the oceans' tireless waiting. (An Introduction)


Machos and melancholy are the two salient features of her poetry that clears her mindset upon the male-centered world. When we observers her poem or a word, we find the secret of her a nominal and despondent heart which she had suffered by her own personal point of view. In addition to the confession and acceptance of her torture and tension, she reveals the fact of her own freakiness that she would the symbol of meekness and act, what her husband desires to her such as,

                   Notice the perfection

                   Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under

                   Shower the shy walk across the bathroom floor,

                  Dropping towels and the jerky way he

                  Urinates. All the fond details that make

                  Him male and your only, man. Gift him all. (The Looking Glass)

The following lyrics can easily reveal her attitude toward masochism where she accepts the priority and manhood of a man. These lyrics conclude with the introvert and extrovert idea of her thought in the ironical and satirist tone. Dr. Satish Kumar also stated that the poetry of Kamala Das is the direct way to experience the exploitation and torture through the lust and hunger of male dominated society. The women in the poem are every woman that seeks love; the man is every man that wants a woman to satisfy his lust. The lyrics mirror a real picture of the lustful relationship between every man and every woman and disillusionments and frustrations that follow such a relationship, especially for the woman.

In the respect of her disillusionment attitude towards the suffocative role of the mutual relationship between man and woman is able to prove the psychology of a woman who tolerates masochism inside her soul. In spite of it always satisfy his hunger sexual gratification and has no claim to prove her own wished whether she ready to do or not. It can be said that Kamala Das was feel uneasiness and uncomfortable with the tradition and rituals of society spread through generation by generation with hypocritical method of social system that the double morality of girls and women have not allowed leading their life from their own perspective, neither girls have allowed choosing their life partner as their own wish in spite of it, they have no right to meet them before fixing their marriage, it is totally rudeness and hardness of the society where she has no right to present her identity, on the other perspective women are the victim of tolerance. Against it, men are free to do anything they can rape an innocent girl or woman and it is the mindset of the society that they directly blame to that person who suffers such melancholy and depression. Men freely involve in homosexuality, adultery was really uncommon for him after admiration such kind of crime he much more gets confidence and can live freely. Neither girls, their unexpected pregnancy much affected on that person who just thinks it as the part of their entertainment and pleasure nor the childbirth process can harm at the manhood of the male dominated society. So victim girls were made to suffer the social stigma. Women were discouraged from writing and were expected to seek fulfillment in domestically. So disgusted was Kamala Das with this kind of social set-up that she wanted to totally bury the past and build up a new order founded on social justice, and equality between both the men and the women.

The pain and lust we can observe thoroughly her poetry where she stands as the voice of other women's obsession and suppression such as the theme of love, sex and frustration revels in her early poem Freaks where she reaches the anxiety of abnormality and behaves;

                        An Empty cistern, waiting

                        Through long hours, fills itself

                        With coiling snakes of silence…

                        I'm a freak. Its only…

                        Times a grand, flamboyant lust. (Freaks)

Through this point of views, she expresses her own frankness and openness while involving in
the act of sexual pleasure. She says the mind of the man set upon the female flesh as gratifying
only his Idly over puddles of and Desires skin's lazy hunger.

Summer in Calcatta, (1965) the first slander of her poetic gems and have consisted of fifty poems, that is able to present the background of the continent of Circe. It is an Indian poet's reaction to the torture of the Indian summer and symbolized what Kamala Das' reaction against the unconscious intimacy with her torture. Further, it can conclude that the poetess feels a sense of sensuous relaxation and a warm intoxication which warms as well as relaxes so that my worries doze in the image of April sun. The sensuality of Kamala Das can compare with the sensuous luxury of John Keats' Ode on Indolence a lso the same theme as the short- lived celebration of the gay mood .13(Kumar, 126)

The hollowness of sexual love and skin communicated relationship can observe from her poem In Love that shows the memory of the experience lingers in the mind and puts the question remain unanswered. A systematic recitation of her poem An Introduction which helps to reveal her confessional and autobiographical attitude and it also deals with the poetess's assertion to establish her feminine identity in the male-dominated culture and her performance for writing in English. She frankly able to disclose about herself on the tremendous loveless sexual assaults is committed on a woman in the name of marriage;

It is I who laugh, it is I who make love
And then, feel shame, it is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat….I am the belovled and the Betrayed.   
                                                                       (An Introduction)



Kamala Das has become the icon of world fame for the sake of her bold, uninhibited articulation of feminine sensibility along with other women poets like Gauri Despande, Mamata Kalia, de Souza and others. In this sense her anguish and quest for identity, is directly the progeny of an old social set-up. Moreover, Love and Sex are, used as the “leitmotif” of her entire collection of poetry, but the depth of her distress seems to have a constant sting in her soul, and that does invest her identity with a certain tincture of pangs. In further observation of this ideology K. R.S. remarks her that;

                  Love is crucified in sex, and sex defiles itself again and again.

Along with M.K. Nayak has explained her pain of feminism as;

The most oblivious (and to casual reader, colorful) feature of Kamala Das’s poetry is the uninhibited frankness with which she talks about sex referring nonchalantly to the ‘musk of the sweat between the breasts’, ‘the warm shock of menstrual blood; and even pubis.’

 In the world of the patriarchal system, the women become the subject of marginalization so she needs a plight to overcome. With the emergence of feminist ideas after the publication of Simone de Beauvoir has stated in her book entitled, The Second Sex (1949) that, the concept of feminine sensibility has well explained and elaborated with the emergence of women writing, arises a question by the masculine authenticity in order to suggest what criteria enforces on them or what genre of writing they have to be use. Along with, the importance of women's body and feminine mode of regression and suppression is not being the subject of their expression. However the concept of feminine sensibility has expanded into other areas such as exposing the woes and worries of women in the confinement of domestic life, the anxieties and depression they undergo, the exploitation, obsession, discrimination, and marginalization are grown after the cruel involvement of male-oriented world.


In the anthology of The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973) which have thirty-three poems in all and they are the source of her new dimension and artistic maturity. Still, she preoccupied with the theme of love in spite of the concept of personal decay and death. The meaning of the title has the symbolical meaning which refers a note or protest and revolt against male domination. Through this poem, the situation of a wife suffers much individual conflict after marriage. Here poetess's boycott against the whole male dominated society has come to light when she says;

                   You called me a wife /I was called to break saccharine into your tea and /

                  To offer at the right moment the vitamins, cowering/ Beneath your monstrous

                  ego I ate the magic loaf / Became a Dwarf, I lost my will and reason …(The

                  Old Playhouse)

The next poem The Stone Age is one of the finest example of her male-oriented psychopath where she elucidates that the wife resents the restraints imposed on her and the husband describes as an "old fat spider" weaves "webs of bewilderment " around her and confines her within the four walls of domesticity and this same conflict deals with the Persona of The Sunshine Cat in which she use to live in a dark room that has been locked by her husband. The similarity of both poems is able to pour the complaint after the departure of her husband in symbolically and melancholically;
                  You turn me into a bird of stone, granite

                  Dove, you build round me a shabby drowning room,

                  And stroke my pitted face absent mindedly while you read.

                  She dislikes him as other men haunt her mind. (The Stone Age)

To Conclude it can be said that the voice of Kamala Das has reached the ears of other women and make them able to struggle for their emotions and desires through her art of composing powerful confessional poetry. Although Das faced my hardship and suppression in her life but she could never stop her running feet as reaching the ground in the male-centered literature. As soon as she reaches the step of maturity, she engaged in married life as I have already mentioned it but it was her super willpower that she get as the rays of sun in this patriarchal system and reserved her fame in the world of Indo-Anglican Literature. In this way the marginalization and hindrances are not for accepting, it depends on us that we choose the way of melancholic and masochist or accept her as the true feminist spirit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

'The Bus' by Arun Kolatkar: Summary and Analysis

Summary:
 
'The Bus' by Arun Kolatkar is the opening poem of the thirty-one section of his collection of poems 'Jejuri.' It describes the bumpy journey from the starting point to its destination which is the temple of Khandoba. It is a State Transfort bus the windows of which are screened by the tarpaulin with which the bus has been covred to keep the possible rainfall , and also to keep off the cold wind which keeps blowing throughout the journey. It is a night journey which the bus has undertaken ; and after several hours of the arduous journey the passengers start waiting eagerly for daybreak. 

The bus is full of the pilgrims who are bound for the temple of Khandoba where they want to offer worship; and the passengers might have included a few tourists who merely want to satisfy their curiosity about what kind of a temple it is and in what surroundings the temple stands. One of the passengers sits opposite an old man wearing glasses; and this passenger , while looking at the old man, sees his reflection in both the glasses of the spectacles which the old man is wearing. This passenger can feel the onward movement of the bus. The old man wears on his forehead a mark indicating his Hindu faith and even the high caste to which he belongs. Among the passengers is the protagonist or the persona who speaks in the poem, describing his experiences and his reactions to what he sees at Jejuri. 

In due course, the sun appears on the horizon , and quietly moves upwards in the sky. The sun's rays, filtering through the gaps in the tarpaulin , fall upon the old man's glasses. Then a ray of the sun falls upon the bus-driver's night cheek. The bus seems to have changed its direction. It has been un uncomfortable journey; but, when the destination is reached , the passengers get down from the bus which had held them tightly in its grip.       

Analysis:

The Bus is a purely descriptive  poem which does not give us much of information about the purpose of the journey, apart from telling us that it is going to Jejuri and that it is a night journey , with a cold wind blowing all the way. There are a few humorous touches in this poem as, for instance, the protagonist finding two reflections of himself in the two glasses of the spectacles which the old man sitting opposite him is wearing. We also learn that it is a bumpy ride at the end of which the passengers get off the bus without anybody stepping inside the old man's head;and this is another touch of humour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kamala Das as a Confessional Poet

Kamala Das is pre-eminently a confessional poem and , in this respect , she may be regarded as an outstanding Indo-Anglian poet . A confessional poet is one who takes the reader into confidence about his or her personal and private life , and reveals those facts of her life which an ordinary person , even if that person be a poet , would keep strictly to himself or herself because of the delicate nature of those facts. A confessional poet has shed all his or her inhibitions and to write frankly , candidly ,and in an outspoken manner , thus defying the restrictions and restraints which the social code and the conventions of society impose upon him or her .

Stripteasing Her Mind ,  and Exuding Autobiography

Kamala Das has a lot to confess in her poetry , and she does so in the most candid manner conceivable . Indeed, her poetry has no precedent so far as her frankness and candour in revealing herself to the readers are concerned . She has expressed her intense desire to confess in a very graphic manner by saying that she must “striptease” her mind and that she must exude autobiography .Her confessions pertain to her poetry is a confession of her relationship with her husband , and of her extra-marital sexual relationship .The themes of must of her poems are live or lust , and marriage relationships. The themes of most of her poems are  love or lust, and marriage . In dealing with these themes , she hides nothing , and in dealing with this subject matter , she makes use of language freely , without any scruples, and even unabashedly . The orthodox reader would even accuse her of being immodest, shameless, or brazen in her use of the language through which she lays dare the secrets of her private life . Her poetty is the poetry of introspection, of self-analysis, of self-explanation, and of sel-revelation.

Her Confession in the Poem Entitled ThevFreaks

In the poem The Freaks , Kamala Das describes a sexual experience and the feeling which accompanied it. Her feelings , as she lay in bed with a man , were ambivalent. She did experience the gratification of  her sexual desire at the time but she felt disappointed by the lack of any love or affection for her in his heart . She felt his fingers moving upon her body nimbly enough but not with the kind of urgency and passion which would arouse in her a yearning for an emotional union with him in addition to desiring the gratification of her lust. This poem clearly shows her frankness in dealing with the subject of sex. She is so frank here as to call herself a freak and to confess that subject of sex. She is so frank here as to call herself a freak and to confess that , in order to save her face, she flaunts at times, a grand ,flamboyant lust.

The Confession in the Poem Entitled The Sunshine Cat
              
That there is a poem entitled 'The Sunshine' cat which she complains about the pain and the suffering which , first her  husband , and then the many other mn with whom she had a sexual experience , caused to her . She accuses her husband of having been a selfish and cowardly man who neither loved her nor used her properly but who was a ruthless watcher of her sexul act with other men . She had tried her utmost to please her sexual partners by clinging to their hairy chests , but they all told her that they could only gratify her sexual desire but could not love her . The consequence was that she lay in bed sexual desire but could not love her.

The Poem Entitled The Invitation

In the poem entitled The Invitation, Kamala Das recalls that her lover., presumably her husband , used to perform the sezual act with in a casual manner , coming to her in the intervals of his office-work , and then going away.She did feel a certain pleasure during her sexual act with that man so that the bed , six feel long and two feet wide , seemed to  have become a paradise  forshe relt like committing suicide by jumping into the sea which seemed to be inviting her to enter its waters and perish.

Her Observation in The Looking –Glass, Also Based on Her PERSONAL Experiences

The poem called 'The Lookind-Glass' is even more candid in its use of the Kamala Das urges women not to feel shy or timid when they are about to perform the their lovers’ nude and muscular bodies, before a mirror, and look at their reflection. She urges them to let their lovers know what they (the women) expect from them (their lover) when they lie in bed together .She also urges women to give to men all that makes them women ; to let them smell their long hair to smell the musk of sweat between their breasts, to let them experience the warm shock of their menstrual blood , and to let them know their endless female hungers . If a women does all these things she would have no difficulty in winning her lover though , when the lover is gone and has no intention to come back, the women would feel desolate and find it act which that man had provided. Kamala Das’s treatment of the subject of sex is, indeed, astonishing and her observations in this respect are undoubtedly based upon her own sexual experiences with men.

The Miserable Conjugal Life , Described in Most Explicit Terms

The poem entitled The Old Playhouse is most remarkable so far as its confessionl quality is concerned . Here Kamala Das describes , in unusually frank terms, the kind of life which she had been leading with her husband .This poem describes, metaphorically, Kamala Das’s feeling of suffocation in her husband’s home as a consequence of her husband’s selfishness , self-centredness, egoism, and exaggerated sense of his own importance . Kamala Das’s narrow life of domesticity with her husband, and her husband’s unemotional manner of performing the sexual act with her , her driven her to desperation and had made her feel that her mind was like an old theatre hall which was no longer in use and all the light of which had been put out . Then she expresses her resolve to liberate herself from this kind of slavery to her husband . No ordinary women would describe her unhappy conjugal life in such explicit terms as Kamala Das has done in this poem.

Her Candour in the Poems Composition and Substitute

In one of her poems, namely, Composition, Kamala Das gone to the extent of using the words pubis and pubic hair;and, in another poem, namely Substitute, she has described her anarchic sexual life in the following memorable manner;
                                    After that love became a swivel-door.
                                   When one went out , another came in.
Here is a confession without any reservation and without any hesitation either .


A Feminist in Her Confessional Poems

Kamala Das as a confessional poet has rendered some valuable service to the female sex making them conscious of their dormant sexual desires and their suppressed discontent with their husbands from the sexual point of view . She has thus given a sort of incentive  to women to assert themselves or at least not to suppress themselves. In these confessional poems Kamala Das appears as a feminist , indirectly advocating the liberation of women from the coventional social restraints and taboos.

 Two Confessional Poems Expressing Her Feeling as a Mother

Two of Kamala Das poems contain her feeling as a mother . The poem entitled Jaisurya expresses her feeling of exultation when she in going to give birth to a child and her feeling of pride when the chind coes out of the darkness of her womb into this bright world lit by sunlight . During the child-birth, Kamala Das felt that to her at that time neither love was important nor lust , and that the man or men , who had been betraying her by gratifying their lust and then forsaking her, did not matter to her at all . She found child-birth to be a glorious phenomenon. The other poem about her motherhood has the title of The White Flowers.

 The Therapeutic and Cathartic Effect of Her Confessional Poetry


Kamala Das’s confessional poetry, like most confessional poetry written by Nissim Ezekiel, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath, has a therapeutic and catharic effect on the readers as well s on the writer herself. Confessional poetry is written by a poet under an internal pressure in order to give vent to his or her grievances or feeling of resentmentor a sense of the injustice experienced by him or her. By confessing what a poet has undergone, he or she is able to obtain some relief; and such poetry naturally brings some relief to the reader as well by making him feel that his own sense of injustice should count for noting when compared to the more acute and more painful sense of injustice of persons much more important  and much more talented then he . After all , catharsis only means the feeling of relief which a person experiences After witnessing the spectacle of feeling of relief which a person experiences after witnessing the spectacle of other suffering from the effects of the stress of circumstances or of misfortunes or from a sense of guilt. All confessional art, says a critic* is a means of killing the beasts which are within us, those dreadful dragons of dreams and experiences that must be hunted down, cornered , and exposed in order to be destroyed . And the poetry of Kamala Das certainly tends to kill such beasts in herself and, incidentally, similar beasts in us. According to another critic, Kamala Das’s poetry is replete with a powerful force of catharsis and protest . This is so, says this critic ,because of Kamala Das’s intensely confessional quality and her ultra-subjective treatment .Kamala Das raises her confessional traits to the level of a specific universal appeal.The struggle of her self ultimately becomes the struggle of all mankind, and herein lies her forte (or her special power),matter to achieve some sort of victory over pain and defeat. Poems of this kind are glosses on the triumph of life. Because of the absolute confessions made by a group of poets in their poetry, particularly in America (such poets as Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and John Berryman ) they have raised themselves to a level know as confessional poets , and Kamal Das’s place is certainly secure in the ranks of these poets. Even suicide is a subject they are ready to confess. In one of his poems, John Berryman appears to ponder over, and mastermind , his suicide; “It all centred in the end on the suicide/In which I am an expert, deep and wide.” In the same nein, Sylvia Plath writes in a famous poem;”  Dying/Is an art, like everything, is clearly contemplation suicide as a means of escape from the frustration, is clearly contemplating suicide as  means of escape from the frustration of life.Kamala Das’s poetry hs a cathartic effect because, the more poignant her confessional tone is, in poems like The Sunshine Cat and My Grandmother’s House, the greater is the cathartic effect.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Major Themes of Kamala Das's Poetry

The Failure of Her Marriage  and Sexual Frustration

The most outstanding and the most striking concern of Kamala Das as a poet is sexual frustration and the failure of marriage as a means of happiness in the life of a woman. The theme, namely the failure of a woman to achieve happiness through her sexual relationship with her husband and even through a similar relationship with other men, recurs in poem after poem by Kamala Das. Her poetry is largely autobiographical and confessional. The frustration resulting from total failure of her marriage and search for  happiness through indiscriminate sexual relationships with other men constitute a very large component of her poetry.

Her Husband’s Shabby Treatment of Her 

The failure of her marriage has most vividly and candidly been described by Kamala Das in the poem entitled The old Playhouse. Addressing her husband in this poem, she bluntly reminds him that he had been allowing his saliva to flow into her  mouth and had poured himself  into every nook and cranny of her body. She points out to  him that, although he used to call her wife,he had compelled her to live under conditions in which she felt almost suffocated. She accuses him of having been  a most self-centred  and egoistical kind of husband who had been tyrannizing over her till she become a dwarf,with all her will power and thinking power completely gone. The result of all his shabby treatment of her is that her mind has become entirely non-function like an old playhouse with all its lights put out. Towards the end of this poem she tells him that,  although he had certainly been gratifying her lust and yearning for sexual pleasure,he had failed to give her the kind of love and affection which a woman expects from her husband.

 The Want of Any Real Love or Affection in Her Husband’s Attitude  Towards Her

In the poem entitled Ghanashyam,Kamala Das is addressing Lord Krisna and, in the course of this monologue, she speaks of the relationship between her husband and herself in terms of disappointment and frustration,saying that she had once played a husk-game because her husband had needed her body to satisfy his lust for her and because,each time his lust had been satisfied, he used to turn his back on her to indicate that he did not want her any more that night. The consequence of her husband’s lack of any real affection for her had led her to believe that,each time he had pressed his mouth against hers. she used to imagine that it was Ghanashyam in disguise who was making love to her. And ,of course,there are several other poems too in which Kamala Das frankly and even bluntly speaks about  total collapse of her conjugal life.

The Failure of Her Relationship with Other Men

In the poem entitled in Love, she tells a lover that,although he had been gratifying her unending lust, he had never felt the kind of love which she expected from him.She describes his sexual desire for her as “this skin-communicated thing”.  In his ralationship with her,she says,there had been no room,no excuse,and even no need for love,and that every embrace between them had beenlike”a finished jigsaw”. In the poem entitled The invitation,Kamala  Das says that her lover had been coming to her in the pauses or intervals of his office-work to make love to her, and that all her pleasure and his own pleasure too had been confined to their bed which, six feet long and two feet wide,had been akind of paradise to them. Her sense of betrayal by him has now produced in her a desire to jump into the sea and first speaks about the sexual relationship between a man and a woman in general terms but towards the end of the poem she left her, never to come back. This is evident a references to some lover’s desertion of Kamala Das after desertion of her.The there is a poem entitled Glass in which Kamala Das again expresses her feelings of disappointment and frustration, comparing herself to glass which is fragile and is easily shatted.A lover of hers had handled her roughly in bed drawing her to himself with lover’s sense of urgency,and treating her like “an armful of splinters”, designed to  hurt her. At the end of all this, she had felt like a person who has misplaced her father faithless from   her unemotional and lustful husband to Lord Krisna, thus turned trying to sublimate her love.In this connection the poem entitled Substitute is also noteworthy. Here she speaks of the anarchy of her sex-life, caused by her feeling of frustration  with every lover with whom she had slept.In this poem her love,or to call it by its proper name,her lust had lrd her into a situation comparable to a swivel-door through which one lover wentout and another came in.



In her Marriage,a Disaster

In connection with her marriage, the poem entitled The Freaks and The Sunshine Cat are also noteworthy. In the former poem Kamala Das says that although she had lived for many years with her husband, she had found no love in this relationship. At end of the poem she calls herself a freak who flaunts, at time, a grand, flamboyant lust. In the second of these poem, she nor describes her husband as as a selfish and cowardly man who neither loved her nor used her properly, and who was a ruthless watcher of the sexual act which she performed unscrupulously with other men. Her husband had been treating her so callously that ultimately the streak of light,which had looked like a yellow cat, become so faint,because of the onset of winter,as to look like a”hair-thin line” .And as a consequence of his having held her as a kind of prisoner,she ultimately become a half-dead woman, of no use at all to any man..In the poem entitled My Grandmother’s House,Kamala Das misses her dead grandmother and says that, having received no loved from her husband,she now feels lost and has therefore to beg at stranger’s doors to receive love,at least in small change. 

 Her Social Concerns  and Two Other Themes

Kamala Das has hardly any other concerns so far as her poetry is concerned  . There are certainly two poems in which she tries to express her awareness of the social conditions in this country . One is a poem entitled The Flag which is about the Indian poor , and the other is entitled Sepia , dealing with the Indian rich . But boh there poems are full , in the words of a critic*, of cliched observations and sentiments which cannot compare with the sharpness of other poets such as K . N .Daruwalla . Amore important theme in Kamala Das’s poetry is motherhood , though she has again written only two poems on this subject . One of these poems is entitled Jaisurya which describes the glory of child – birth and expresses , in frank terms , her own feeling when she lay in the delivery-room, suffering from ladour pains and waiting for the child to come out from the darkness of her womb into the golden light of the sun . Then there are two poems in which her grandmother is the central figure . One of them is entitled My Grandmother’s House which opens with the words; “ There  is a house now far away where one/I received love. That women died  .”The other poem is Blood and here , again , Kamala Das recalls her grandmother’s house with its cracked walls and describes her grandmother as a really simple person , “fed on God for year”and proud of her ancient blood . Besides Kamala Das’s sentimental and loving memories of her grandmother  , the poem also expresses Kamala Das’s sense of decay and death.

 Her Spiritual Love for Ghanashyam or Lord Krishna


 Finally, there are the poems of Kamala Das’s later phase of her poetic career. Ghanashyam has already been mentioned: but there are other poems too . All these poems round the divine person of Krishna with whom Radha had fallen deeply in love  .In there poems Kamala Das has tried to transfoem her lust into love and to exalt and glorify that love by dedicating herself to Ghanashyam or Lord Krishna .In other words, Kamala Das has outgrown her lust and has risen above the demands of her body ,thus imparting a spiritual quality to her love. We may regard there poems as representing her spiritual evolution ,and as expressing her devotion to Lord Krishna .

Friday, March 13, 2015

“The Dance of Eunuchs" by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

Kamala Das’s Sense of the Futility of Her Sexual Experiences

The poem “The Dance of Eunuchs" was published in 1965 in Kamala Das’s very first volume of poems which appeared under the heading “Summer in Calcutta”. In fact, that volume of poems opened with this poem. The tone of this poem is one of frustration and the temper is a feeling of the futility of love. The eunuch, as we know, is incapable of performing the sexual act and, therefore, of producing a child. In this poem, the eunuch has been regarded as a symbol of unproductiveness. The eunuch is here thus a metaphor for barrenness and, therefore, for futility of love. Consequently this poem is an expression, in symbolic terms, of Kamala Das’s feeling of frustration in love.  She seems here to be giving an outlet to her feeling of frustration in love. She seems here to be giving an outlet to her feeling of the futility of all her sexual experience because all those experiences had failed to satisfy her emotional demands though they did satisfy, and in full measure, her sexual demands.

An Abundance of Imagery in the Poem

There is an abundance of imagery in this poem even though it is short poem, like most of her other poem. It was very hot before the eunuchs came to dance,wearing wide skirts and anklets, and carrying cymbals. When the eunuchs were dancing, their skirts went round and round, their cymbals produced rich clashing sound, and their anklets jingled, jingled, jingled. The eunuchs danced, their dark eyes flashing; “they danced and oh, they danced till they bled”. They had green-coloured tattoos on their cheeks, and jasmines in their hair. Their faces were harsh, and their song melancholy. Some beat theis drums, and other best their “sorry breasts”; and they “writhed in vacant ecstasy”.

The phrase “writhed in vacant ecstasy” is very significant as a devastating image of the barrenness of Kamala Das’s own life. The poem ends also with some imagery which conveys the poetess’s sense of   the futility of her sexual experiences:

            The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning
             And rain, a meager rain that smelt of dust in
             Attics and the urine of lizards and  mice  . 

'Glass" by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

A confessional Poem, Describing Kamala Das’s Experience of the Sexual Act

The poem was published in 1973 in Kamala Das’s third volume of poems which was entitled “The Old Playhouse and Other Poem”. The word “glass” has here been used as a metaphor for a women who is easily shattered and here describes her frustration , verging on despair , because of her disappointing experience of sex and the sexual act . It is yet another confessional poem because Kamala Das here gives expression to feelings which most women in a similar circumstance or in a similar predicament would keep strictly to themselves. She speaks of a man who, wanting to perform the sexual act with her, had drawn her towards himself rudely and hastily, treating her as “an armful of splinters”. His behavior, she says, had hurt her and caused her much pain. She felt like broken glass .Subsequently too she received the same kind of treatment from her other lovers, with the result that she developed a dislike for all of them. She then sought only sexual gratification from men with whom she performed the sexual act, and she did not expect, or offer, any real love in the process. However, she really missed the love which she had originally aimed at in performing the sexual act, beginning with her husband. It seemed to her that only her father had given her the love for which she had always husband.

True Love Only from Her Father and Her Grandmother

In this connection, we might mention that in a couple of other poems Kamala Das recalls the love which her grandmother had given her. This means that only her father and her grandmother had given her the love which she failed to receive from anybody else in the whole of her life. All her sexual relationships with men proved disastrous failures because she received no real love true affection from any one of them.  

An Irregular Poem Containing Appropriate Metaphors


This poem is an irregular composition, while most of the lines are of moderate length but some consisting of only one word or two poems. However, there are a couple of very appropriats metaphors in the poem. Her calling herself as “an armful of splinters” is another good metaphor; and her regarding herself as a musical instrument on which her lovers could play the tunes which pleased them most is yet another good metaphor.

“The Old Playhouse' by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

The Husband’s Aim to Keep Das in a State of Subjection


The persona in this poem is a woman, undoubtedly Kamala Das herself; and she here gives us a brief account of her unsatisfactory and disappointing conjugal life with her husband. She compares herself to a swallow and her husband to a captor who wanted to tame her and keep her fully under his control by the power of his love-making. The husband wanted to make her forget all those comforts which ashen might have enjoyed in her home before being married; but , in addition to that, he wanted also to make her forget her very nature and her innate love of freedom by keeping her in a state of subjection to him.

Her Purely Physical and Unemotional Response to His Love-Make

Kamala Das then says that have had come to her husband in order to learn what she was band, by learning what she was, to made it possible for her to learn anything because he was a self-centered man and because his egoism prevented him from letting her learn anything except his own nature and disposition . He certainly made love to her, and he felt pleased by her bodily response to his love-making. He approved of her state of mind and her mood when he made love her, and he felt pleased by the tremors of her body during the sexual act. However, he failed to understand that her response to his love-making was purely physical and, therefore, superficial because she never experienced any feeling of oneness with him.

Kamala Das’s Mind, Similar to an Old Playhouse

 Kamala Das was now feeling suffocated in her husband’s home in which his room was always lit by the artificial light of electric lamps and the windows of which were shut. Her husband’s whole house reeked of masculine breath. Even the flowers, which had been cut from the plants, and which had been placed in vases, seemed to have lost their natural small and to have acquired the smell of her husband’s sweet. She no longer heard the singing of birds outside; and she began to feel that her mind was like an old and forsaken theatre-hall which was no longer in use.


Her Resolve to Obtain Releases her inclination, and not only an inclination house and the loveless life of domesticity which she had been leading there. She says that her husband is physically a strong man, and that a strong man always uses the same technique which is to keep his wife physically and sexually satisfied but denying to her the live which she desperately needs and the denial of which has effect of killing her slowly. Kamala Das now compares herself to Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection which he saw in a pool of water and which subsequently haunted him, cussing him an agony and heartache because he could not enjoy the pleasure of a sexual union with himself. Kamala Das now feels tortured by the intensity of her desire for love which she never got from her husband. It is only by obtaining a release from the tyranny of her husband that she can end that torture; and that release may have to be achieved through suicide if no other method can be found.

“The Looking-Glass' by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

How a Woman Should Behave While Going to Bed With a Man

In this poem, Kamala Das offers a few suggestions to women about how to get the maximum possible pleasure out of her sexual experiences. A woman, says the poetess, should make no secret of her sexual requirements when she is going to have sexual intercourse with a man A woman should not, for instance, feel shy about admiring a man’s body and limbs when she sees him in the nude. In fact, a woman should stand naked before a mirror and ask her partner also to stand naked by her side so that they can enjoy his feeling of physical superiority over her by virtue of his bodily strength.

A woman should enjoy a feeling of her own superiority over him because her body is softer and lovelier than his. A woman should then note the perfection of the man’s limbs, and should note his eyes becoming red when the water enters his eyes while he is having a bath. She should note the shy manner in which he walks upon the bathroom floor, dropping his towel because of his loose grip on it, and she should note the jerky way in which he urinates. A woman should not only admire the man’s symmetrical and strong limbs, but also his movements including his jerky manner of ending his urination. All these details about the man’s body and his movements should actually please a woman and make her think that this particular man is the only one who can satisfy her fully and in every way when they lie together in bed.

How She Should Behave in Bed

The poetess then suggests that a woman should give to her lover everything that she is capable of giving to a lover in bed. She should make it possible for him to smell her long hair and the sweat between her breasts; she should let him feel the shock of coming into contact with her warm menstrual blood if she having her monthly period at the time, and she should make him conscious of all her sexual cravings which she wants him to satisfy. There is nothing difficult in doing all this, says the poetess. A woman would find it easy to do all these things if she sheds her shyness and timidity and behaves boldly in the matter.

Her Predicament After the Man Has Left Her for Good


The poetess then points out that the real difficulty for a woman lies in the fact that, if this particular lover, with whom she has had a most pleasurable experience of the sexual act, leaves her, never to come back, she would find it impossible to get a substitute for him. And, if she does not find a substitute, her life would become meaningless to her. Her eyes would keep searching for somebody like her departed lover, but she would not find anyone exactly like him. Her predicament would lead her into a state of total despair so that her body, which was at one time irresistibly alluring, would then lose its charm and would become unexciting.

“The Invitation "by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

The Persona’s Bitter-Sweet Memory of a Sexual Experience

The persona in the poem recalls her experience of the sexual act with a lover. (The persona is most probably the poetess herself). On a certain day, she felt as if a man’s fist was alternately tightening itself and then loosening its muscles. It seemed to her that the man were forming some firm resolve and then becoming somewhat uncertain. In other words, the poetess was feeling tortured by her memory of her experience of love-making with a lover of hers. The lover had gone away after making love to her, and had not returned. The woman (who, as we have already indicated, could be the poetess herself) knew that her lover would not come back, but she could not forget her experience of love-making with that man because the experience had been a most delicious one. The bitter-sweet of the memory of her sexual experience continued to haunt her.

The Sea’s Suggestion to the Woman to Jump into its Waters and Perish there.

Standing on the seashore, the woman got the feeling that the sea was inviting her to jump into its waters in order to perish there and thus put an end to her life. The sea seemed to say to her that she would lose nothing except her miserable life while it would certainly gain something by swallowing her body and thus adding to its conquests. The woman, however, told the sea to mind its own business and to go its own way, leaving her to go her way.

The Woman’s Effort to Dismiss Her Memories from Her Mind

The woman then recalled how her lover used to come to her in the intervals of his office-work in order to make love to her. He used to come to her to refresh himself after his tiring office-work, and he felt warmed in her embraces, remaining silent all the time. The woman then tried to dismiss this memory from her mind by telling herself that her lover had gone for good, and that it would be foolish on her part to entertain any hope that he would return.

The Sea’s Repetition of its Invitation to the Woman

The sea seemed to repeat its invitation to the woman to enter its waters in order to put an end to her life. But the woman replied that she wanted to be left alone, and not to be pestered by the sea. Her thoughts again turned to her lover; and she realized that she wanted no other lover but the same who had been sleeping with her and who had now gone away. In bed with him, she used to feel as if she was in paradise. The bed, six feet in length and two feet in width, was heaven for them; and, it was only when they left the bed-room and walked together in the open that they exposed themselves to the much wider space outside where the city was situated.

The Sea’s Invitation, Made to Appear More Attractive

The sea spoke to the woman again, urging her to end her life in its waters. The sea told her that, if she waited for her death to come naturally to her, she would have to be cremated; and her dead body would then be placed on a funeral pyre to be consumed by the fire. The sea said that, if she jumped into its waters, she would meet a cool death, and that she would be able to stretch her limbs on the cool sand at its bottom and would be able to rest her head on the flowers growing there.

The Woman, Unable to Shed Her Memories of Her Lover

The woman, turning away from the sea, thought again of her experience of love-making with that lover of hers. Throughout the summer they had been meeting in the afternoons to make love to each other, and, at the end of the sexual act, their bodies would lie listlessly on the bed, with their minds rendered incapable of thinking by the heat of the sun.

The Woman’s Rejection of the Sea’s Invitation

The sea spoke once more, urging the woman to put an end to her memories of her past love-making and the heartache which those memories were causing her. The sea went on to say that it had waited for a long time for the right person, who would also be a bright person, like her, to come and enter its blue waters. But this time the woman replied to the sea that she was still young, and that she still needed that lover of hers to reconstruct her life and then to destroy it. In other words, she had a vague hope that her lover might come back to her even though he might again forsake her. So she told the sea to leave her to herself.

The Woman’s Final Decision

Then, once more turning away from the sea, the woman said that the sea could wait and that she was not yet prepared to drown herself in it. And next she spoke in her imagination to her absent lover and told him that the sea-waves were rushing violently towards the seashore, wanting to drown her. She had been resisting the sea’s invitation but she could not go on resisting it forever. Thus, the woman’s monologue ends with her intention soon to give a practical shape to her desire to commit suicide.

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