An Introduction Poem by Kamala Das

An Introduction

Rating: 3.7

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.

An Introduction
KSS 07 May 2021

Feminism at its best, she sounds like an annoyed cry baby

29 127 Reply
Liza Sengupta 23 July 2022

Dude look at the period when wrote the poem, morerover its an confessional poem, and she also says she is a sinner before she claims her to be a saint.

31 13
Soumita Sarkar 12 June 2013 are a woman, all woman...all mind and all soul.Hats off to your voice of revolt.

48 15 Reply
Ishika 09 February 2019

I agree with her

26 11 Reply
Akash prasad 04 December 2021


11 71
Rhl 09 August 2022

In the end Madhav Das proved better than Sadiq Ali, Love-Jehd tamed her behind Purdah and Hijab

2 5 Reply
Rhl Sh 09 August 2022

Love-Jehd ended her feminism and tamed her behind Purdah and Hijab. In the end MadhavDas who supported her writings proved better than Sadiq Ali.

10 6 Reply
Lony 03 August 2022

I love the way she expressed her feelings, through this poem.

7 0 Reply
Slytherin 01 August 2022

Sounds like an idiot.

6 31 Reply
Unknown 13 July 2022


1 2 Reply
Kamala Das

Kamala Das

Punnayurkulam, Thrissur District in Kerala
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