One realizes even before reading that this is going to be an autobiography with a difference. This is not the kind of story that idolizes the protagonist or shoves incidents that may be perceived as unpleasant or shameful under the rug. Her no- holds barred approach is evident in her poetry and is expected to flow over to her novel as well. However, I did not find anything that is worth the frenzied controversy, perhaps because I belong to the current age where social media has made everything passé. One does realize multiple reasons that irk certain factions of her community and family alike, thus warranting the criticism.
Isn't it a fact that most promiscuity wears the garb of 'searching for love'?
The story is like a normal one, of any woman, albeit a promiscuous one. Except that Das admits to all her affairs with neither remorse nor concealment. Despite the nature of the said incidents, there are no sleazy descriptions or uncomfortable innuendos.
It is ironic that while the society was shocked by her admissions of erring, it is conveniently forgotten that there were umpteen men (especially old and middle-aged ones) who constantly tried and hoped to be favoured by her promiscuity. The book is as much a mirror to the endless lust of men as it is about her yearning for intimacy.
One wonders why Das links the men she gets involved with to the blue-skinned deity, Krishna in her mind and words. It is a classic spiritual twist to the degradation of morals laid down by society. Also, her equation with her husband is curious – the open marriage kind, with his bisexuality playing a role as well.
One feels sorry for her especially when she suffers sever ill health ever so often. Her musings about writers and poets are deep and insightful.
The narrative is smooth, easy to follow and simple. The chapters are labelled according to the key events at any given point of time in her life. Short sentences keep the story-telling crisp and on point, while disclosing just enough information to know what’s going on in her life without divulging unnecessary or unsavoury details.
Beautiful metaphors make the narrative rich with poetic language and pleasing vocabulary.
The second half includes her poetry at the beginning of each chapter. Some of her most popular poems precede the chapters that go on to elaborate the essence of the verses.
I rate the book 4.3 out of 5. There are considerable doubts about the authenticity of the autobiography. One can never tell whether certain incidents are mere fictional creations passed off as reality, solely to garner attention or create controversy.
A readable book, especially for Kamala Das fans, who like to follow the journey she has chalked out with creative aplomb.
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Happy reading, readers!