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TOWARDS SELF-ASSERTION: A STUDY OF KAMALA DASS POETRY

Dr. Vinay Kumar Pandey Kamala Das revolted against the male dominated literary traditions of India. Therigatha poems of the Pre-Aryan days to the present era have always been continued in womans world. The feminist group revolted against the male-dominated society and raised their strong voice to establish a world of their own away from the males. Germaine Greer, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and many others can be identified as the pioneers of the feminist movement. The feminist movement can be divided into three phases: From 1840 to 1880 marked the first phase. Women writers adopted a male pseudonym. During the second phase from 1880 to 1920 a stronger protest being made against the malehegemony. Virginia Woolf, raised her dominant voice in her A Room of ones own The period from 1920 to 1980 and after is the most significant and meaningful period which includes the powerful writings of Simonde Beauvoir, Helen Cixous, Julia Kristeva Gilbert and Gohar etc. Showalter removed the rotten traditional image of women. Innumerable women poets of the past including courtesans and folk-singers used carnal passion and erotic sensibilities in their songs to attack the male literary tradition. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Victorian morality redefined sexual mores for women giving birth to the concept of the proper lady. Kamala Das felt this to be a new technique by the male to further silence the women. Kamala Dass poems are the reflection of her powerful instinct of self-realization, incompatibility with the inadequacies of life, frustration and gender complex. A great psychologist McDougall calls it an inherited or innate psychological disposition. Though Kamala Das shocks the reader, she does not question the importance of men by talking of equality, individuality or of complete emancipation. Rather she articulates the manwoman relationship. She turns aggressive in her expression, but it is pleading - pleading with males for spiritual satisfaction through a balanced and perfect union of the two. Mrs. Das plays out her roles of almost neurotic woman, wife, mistress and reluctant nymphomaniac longing for the lost joys and pleasure of innocence and childhood. Parthasarthy says, her tone is distinctively feminine. She reflects woman as a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex multiform. Ask me why life is short and love is shorter still Ask me what is bliss what its price (The Stone Age) She strongly encounters the male world in her own terms and ironically, also focuses a critique of heterosexual power and hypocrisy. Her feelings and experience demonstrate the inner voice and aspiration of womans world. I met a man, loved him call

Him not by any name, he is every man Who wants a woman, just I am every woman seeks love. In him the hungry haste of rivers, in me the oceans tireless waiting. This is passivity as well as rebellion against man-dominated world. In the poetry of kamala Das her feminism focuses Indianness. Her primary concern is really an outburst of the bitter experience quest for real and true love as well as a lovable companionship which reflect her Indian feminine sensibility. Her quests for a relationship which provides both love and security. She finally epitomizes her love in the form of divine love of Mira Bai for lord Krishna. Vrindaban lives on in every womans mind and the flute luring her from home and her husband. Further she talks about the traditional role of woman which complicates the man-woman relationship and she desires freedom from it; I wore a shirt and my Brothers trousers, cut my hair short and ignored My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook Be a quarreler with servants. Fit in, oh Belong, cried the categorizers. She rebels against the conventional marriage The Ideal Marriage continued according to the desire of our society, is a bond in which both become mental cripples and cling on to each other until death. (The Sham of a Marriage) She reacts against the pretentious role of a happy wife. She was constantly beholding for love in a system where marriage was often for convenience. My mother did not face in love with my father. They were dissimilar and horribly mismated. But my mothers timidity helped to create an illusion of domestic harmony which satisfied the relatives and friends. (My Story, P.4-5) Woman is really helpless, she is quite unable to do except to surrender her body most unwillingly which she mentions in The Looking Glass. In a way Kamala Das recreates the impact which Helen Cixous (1981:256) invites women to get. Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes and

rhetoric, regulations, and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse. In her poems, it is her husband himself who is unable to understand her. In The Sunshine Cat, for instance, she calls the husband selfish and a coward. Dass poems show the woman to be drifting towards fulfillment of passions. Such a confession can be witnessed in The Freaks. She asked herself with a note of disappointment in The Testing of the Siren: Ah, why does love come to me like pain Again and again and again? Kamala Das portrays women as beings of complex physiological make-up where by depicting a room of their own in which they are free to live and behave according to their choice without worrying about the dos and donts of the others. Kamala Dass poetry remains a dominant articulation of a female world who aspired to raise her emotions in a vast unfeeling world.