Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Willow in the Wind.

One of my favourite authors passed away recently. Kamala Das gave to Indian literature a feminist insight at a time when gender politics was still an unchartered collective territory. I first read her book "My Story" in 1983 in London whilst studying there, and remember the profound sense of relief to know that a personal journey of self discovery was in fact philiosophically purposeful, and not considered merely self indulgent.

The ramifications that such personal histories often have is that they are sensationalized by those whose own conservative limitations impose judgements that view liberal or radical ideas as immoral. The ordinary norms within India continuously suggest that conforming becomes a safe option, so that the end result is that women in particular, are encouraged to blend into middle class societal expectations. I know that I never did and never will.

Money can often cocoon you from these harsh realities where your difference often is the cross upon which others crucify you. But every one does not have the luxury of personal wealth. Till today I am confronted with numerous attitudes regarding the politics that governs my life, which are arrived at from peoples inability to be comfortable with difference. The result therefore is to label and construe false meaning from such philosophical and ideological positions that are not commonplace, and worse still, to imprint these false readings as the interpretation of truth.

It must have been even more difficult for Kamala Das when she defied conventions and chose to live her life from the dictates of her political convictions at a time when patriarchy wasn't nuanced. She did us all proud, maverick that she was, and whether she wore a pink burkha or bared her soul through her poetry, she never compromised on the dreams of her freedom.

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