poet Kamala Das

Kamala Das

#71 on top 500 poets

An Introduction

I don't know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I amIndian, very brown, born inMalabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.
Don't write in English, they said, English is
Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.
It is half English, halfIndian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don't
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
Is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware. Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain or the
Incoherent mutterings of the blazing
Funeral pyre. I was child, and later they
Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs
Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.
WhenI asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank Pitifully.
Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother's trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don't sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don't play pretending games.
Don't play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don't cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love … 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 haste
Of rivers, in me . . . the oceans' tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is I. Anywhere and,
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I
In this world, he is tightly packed like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
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 sinner,
I am saint. I am the beloved and the
Betrayed. I have no joys that are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I.

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Add this poem to MyPoemList

Rating Card

3,4 out of 5
15 total ratings
rate this poem

Comments about An Introduction by Kamala Das

  • Pramod (2/24/2020 2:24:00 AM)

    the greatest Indian Poet

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Chinedu DikeChinedu Dike (10/12/2019 9:18:00 AM)

    Well expressed thoughts and feelings. An insightful creation written with conviction. Thanks for sharing.

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Abhishek mehta (9/17/2019 1:07:00 AM)

    Nice poem

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Pooja Bhatnager (3/17/2019 12:16:00 AM)

    very nice poem

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Ishika (2/9/2019 7:14:00 AM)

    I agree with her

    Report Reply
    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Lucy Kanyako (9/9/2018 1:29:00 PM)

    I believe Kamala Das

    Report Reply
    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Drakpa (7/13/2018 1:12:00 AM)

    Very good instructions

    Report Reply
    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Pradeep Yadav (6/20/2018 12:24:00 PM)

    The most inspiring poem for A New woman.

    Report Reply
    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Samit (4/30/2018 7:58:00 AM)

    Very effective poetry for women .

    Report Reply
    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Narayanan Kutty PozhathNarayanan Kutty Pozhath (4/25/2018 12:26:00 AM)

    She is known for her honesty. A very good introduction.

    Report Reply
    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Vinod kumar sharma (4/9/2018 11:24:00 AM)

    It is autobiographical poem.....but the poem also shows condition of whole womanhood

    Report Reply
    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • G m bhat (4/8/2018 2:36:00 AM)

    Kamla das represents de woman class ....Talks about self nd represents it in a very good way.....

    Report Reply
    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Jayalakshmi P.E (4/2/2018 4:44:00 AM)

    Expressed the feelings of a women who want to get love.

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Genifer (3/24/2018 2:12:00 AM)

    Means a lot like me - wearing shirt and trousers

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Dr.Ram Krishan (3/15/2018 1:02:00 AM)

    Kamla Das described very well that how there is no freedom to choose your own language. It means to say that you will have to work according to the society what they want and how they want to see you

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Shiv Raj Singh (1/14/2018 9:17:00 AM)

    This poem expresses the feelings of women that want to get love and show feelings.

    Report Reply
    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Thehunk (12/13/2017 9:24:00 AM)

    Could have written an essay instead!

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Subhas Chandra ChakraSubhas Chandra Chakra (10/18/2017 8:53:00 AM)

    A poem with wonderful descriptions of a woman's mind spoken so aloud, frank and honest.
    Had it been taken care of properly it would have sound like a Maya Angelo poem.

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Uddhab NaikUddhab Naik (9/7/2016 1:11:00 AM)

    awesome....beautiful....amazing

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bijay Kant DubeyBijay Kant Dubey (8/30/2016 5:33:00 AM)

    A woman speaking about a woman. The life and ghettos of a woman none but a woman knows it well. How much restricted is her movement, how much confiscated is her liberty! She is not a caged bird; a red-necked parrot of an Indian astrologer or a fortune teller coming out of the cage and picking zodiac cards.
    Apart from it, she knows the politics of coming into the limelight of media glare, gala and glitz.. A Rajneeshite disciple, she is but a modern-say saffronite yogan.

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?