My Grandmothers House by Kamla Das

Categories: House And Home

Kamala Das is one of the best poets in contemporary Indo-Anglian literature. Kamala Das, born in Kerala in 1934, is a bilingual writer. She writes in Malayalam, her mother tongue, under the pseudonym Madhavikkutty. Her poetry is an exploration of the geography of her own mind, and the lyric is an instance of such self-exploration. Through images of repulsion and horror, she brings out the emotional emptiness and sterility of her married life, and the intensity of her misery as a wife who had to submit to her husband whom she found repulsive, and with whom she had no emotional contact at all.

She has won many prizes for her work . some of them being the P. E. N. Asian Poetry Prize, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award for fiction, Asian World Prize for literature, Kendra Sahitya Academy Award etc. She was short listed for the Nobel Prize along with Marguerite Yourcenar, Doris Lessing and Nadine Gordimer. On 31 May 2009, aged 75, she died at a hospital in Pune, but has earned considerable respect in recent years.

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Themes in the Poetry of Kamala Das:

The poetry of Kamala Das is a search for the essential woman, and hence the woman persona of her poems plays the various roles of unhappy woman, unhappy wife, mistress to lusty men, reluctant nymphomaniac {A woman with abnormal sexual desires}, silent Devdasi and love-lord Radha. Kamala Das has also been called a poet in the confessional mode. The confessional poets deal with emotional experiences which are generally taboo.

There is a ruthless self-analysis and a tone of utter sincerity.

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E. V. Ramakrishnan rightly says, “In her poetry, Kamala has always dealt with private humiliations and sufferings which are the stock themes of confessional poetry. ” Reminiscent of the Poet’s Ancestral Home: The poem is a reminiscence {a mental understanding of the poem by people} of the poetess’ grandmother and their ancestral home at Malabar in Kerala. Her memory of love she received from her grandmother is attached with the image of her ancestral home, where she had passed some of the happiest days of her life, and where her old grandmother had showered her love and affection. With the death of her grandmother the house withdrew into silence.

When her grandmother died, even the house seemed to share her grief, which is expressed in a very touching manner in the phrase “the House withdrew”. The house soon was crushed by grief and snakes crawled among books. Her blood became cold like the moon because there was none to love her the way she wanted. She understands that she cannot reclaim the past but she wants to go back home, look once again through its windows and bring back a handful of darkness – sad and painful memories, which she would have made her constant companion, to keep as a reminder of her past happiness.

The poet is unable to proceed with her thoughts for sometime as is indicated by the ellipses dots. The poet is now strangled with the intensity of grief. She craves for love like a beggar going from one door to another asking for love in small change. Her need for love and acceptance is not satisfied in marriage and she goes after strangers for love at least in small quantity. But she does not get it even in small change or coins. Her love-hunger remains unsatisfied, and there is a big void, a blank within her, she seeks to fill up with love but to no advantages .

The image of the window is a link between the past and the present. It signifies the desire of the poet for a nostalgic peep into her past and resurrects her dreams and desires. The moon is being an emblem of love. The worms on the books seem like snakes at that moment, in comparison to the size of the little girl. The poet also implies that the deserted house is like a desert with reptiles crawling over. The poet now longs to 'peer' at a house that was once her own. She has to peek through the 'blind eyes' of the windows as the windows are permanently closed.

The air is frozen now, as compared to when the grandmother was alive-the surroundings were filled with the warmth of empathy. Kamala Das pleads with us to "listen" to the "frozen" air. Neither is the air a visual medium, nor can air cause any displacement because it is "frozen". In wild despair, she longs to bring in an "armful of darkness". Firstly, that it is not a 'Handful' but an armful. Secondly, 'darkness' that generally has negative shades to it, has positive effect here of a protective shadow. It also reflects the 'coziness' inside the house. This armful of darkness is her essence of craving for her past.

Kamala Das was very proud about her grandmother and the love she received. The Ellipsis after the word loved shows how much she grieves at the loss of the person who unconditionally loved her and satisfied her to the core. She was so convinced by the environment, in which she lived, that the loss of it was indigestible, and un-compromisable. She feels so proud of her grandmother and the house in such a way that she wants all the others know how promising and satisfying was the atmosphere at her grandmother’s home. The pronoun ‘I’ here is very emphatic and also melancholic.

Sudden and strong in order to tell the world that no one would or could have come across such an admiring part of life the poet had lived and melancholic to let the readers know that she is a great loser and there can be no loser like her in the world. It also echoes her inner reverberations that when her grandmother was alive she was rich with love and after her demise she became bankrupt and started begging at stranger’s door. She dint expect the equal amount of love that she received from her grandmother from the society she was in but only little. Even that little love she was deprived of.

This makes it clear that Kamala’s grandmother was a shape of unconditional love. Conclusion: The poem springs from her own disillusionment with her expectation of unconditional love from the one she loves. In the poem, the image of the ancestral home stands for the strong support and unconditional love she received from her grandmother. The imagery is personal and beautifully articulates her plight in a loveless marriage. Thus, the old house was for her a place of symbolic retreat to a world of innocence, purity and simplicity, a place of complete bliss and delight and peace world where love and happiness are still possible. ”

Grandma's House

My favorite place to be when I was growing up was my Grandma’s House. Some of my most cherished memories of my childhood were created there. The minute I would walk in the door and see Grandma and Grandpa sitting in their matching brown corduroy recliners, any worries or problems would go from my mind. All that mattered from that point on was that I was at Grandma’s. Grandma’s house was located on about 20 acres on South Military Rd., in Winlock, WA. It was the cutest little two story white house on her road. On a good day you could see it from a couple miles away because it had a bright, red tin roof. It was at Grandma’s house where our whole family would come together on Christmas day to hang out with family, share in a delicious feast, and open presents. It was usually total chaos, while adults where trying to get dinner ready. The children were going crazy pestering everyone until they were finally allowed to open presents.

The presents, to look at, were nothing you would think a woman with as many years of wrapping experience would look like. It did not matter how many presents each one of us got, Grandma managed to get everything wrapped in one big package with usually two different kinds of wrapping paper because she would run out and use whatever she had on hand. Heaven forbid she should waste wrapping paper. Once the havoc of present opening was done, we would all sit down to a wonderful turkey dinner. My favorite part of dinner was my Grandma’s paste gravy. It was made with real bacon grease, flour, and a mixture of milk and water. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water. Although Grandma was not the best cook, I still crave her cooking to this day. Summers at Grandma’s were equally memorable. These were much more special times with just the cousins and Grandma and Grandpa. My cousins and I would spend hours upstairs in my dad and aunt’s old bedrooms playing dress up and pretending like we were the parents and re-arranging our “houses.”

The baby doll I always used, while we played house, was one that had been passed down for many generations. His name was Mr. Peabody; the poor thing had his fingers chewed off and chunks taken out of his head, nothing special by any means, but I loved him. I still have him to this day. When it was nice out, we liked to play out in the barn. There was so much old stuff out there that they had collected over the years. It was a gold mine for children with nothing to do and a brilliant imagination. My most vivid memory of the barn was a hot summer day in 1980. My two cousins and I were playing kitchen in the barn. There was an old portable two burner stove that I decided needed to be moved. As I picked it up, I started to trip on something, so I immediately let go of the stove.

The minute it slammed down, hundreds of bees’ flew out of there and headed straight for me. Within seconds, before I could even react, I was covered from head to toe with bees. I screamed and ran frantically out of there, towards the front of the house. Grandma heard my screams and comes running out to see what the ruckus was all about. As soon as she got to me, she started ripping off my clothes and hitting me with them trying to get the bees off. This day was also memorable because it was the first day I wore my new training bra. At the time, I did not know which was worse, the pain from the hundreds of bee stings I had received, or the embarrassment of standing in the front yard, stripped down to my panties and new training bra.

With all the wonderful memories I had growing up all I could ever imagine was to someday live there. That day came much sooner than I could have ever imagined. In 1992 my Grandma was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was a very difficult time knowing that there is no cure and having no idea how much time will be left with the rock of your family. Grandma’s house became even more special. In January of 1993 my Grandpa passed away. At the same time, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. In June of the same year, we lost Grandma also. Although it was a really rough year, it made things easier knowing that when my son was born I was going to be bringing him home, to Grandma’s house.

Cite this page

My Grandmothers House by Kamla Das. (2016, Dec 08). Retrieved from

My Grandmothers House by Kamla Das
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