Kochi, May 31: Kamala Das, noted poet and writer in Malayalam and English who converted to Islam a decade ago passed away in Pune early Sunday, May 31. She was 75.
Kamala Suraiya, the name she adopted after conversion was suffering from diabetes and was recently hospitalised with pneumonia. Family sources said that the end came in a private hospital. Kamala spent most of her childhood in Kolkata of West Bengal where her father V M Nair worked.
Influenced by her poetess mother Balamani Amma and uncle Nalappatt Narayana Menon, a prominent writer, Kamala started writing at the age of 17 under the pen name Madhavikutty. She was married to Madhava Das, 15 years elder to her, and the couple had three sons. Her eldest son, M D Nalapat, is a journalist.
He first literary success came at age of 42 with her autobiography 'My Story'. Kamala was also a painter and many of her works fetched high prices in exhibitions. In 1999 she announced she was embracing Islam and changed her name to Kamala Suraiya. In 2007, she decided to shift her base from Kerala to Pune.
Kerala government said that Kamala's death was an irreparable loss to the nation and state. Kerala is planning to give the writer a state funeral. Culture Minister M A Baby said Kamala's body will be flown to Kochi on Monday, June 1 and placed at Thrissur, Alappuzha and Kollam for people to pay their last respects. The funeral will take place at the Palayam Juma Masjid on Tuesday, Jun 2."
Her popular English works include "The Sirens" (Asian Poetry Prize winner), "Summer in Calcutta" (Kent's Award winner), "The Descendants" (poetry), "The Old Playhouse and Other Poems" (poetry), "Alphabet of Lust" (novel), "The Anamalai Poems" (poetry), "Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories" (short stories) "Only the Soul Knows How to Sing" (poetry) and "Yaa Allah" (poems).
Her Malayalam works include "Pakshiyude Manam" (short stories), "Naricheerukal Parakkumbol" (short stories), "Thanuppu" (short story and Sahitya Academy award winner), "Balyakala Smaranakal", "Varshangalkku Mumbu", "Palayan" (all novels), "Neypayasam" (short story), "Dayarikkurippukal" (novel), "Neermathalam Pootha Kalam" (novel and Vayalar Award winner), "Chekkerunna Pakshikal" (short stories), "Nashtapetta Neelambari" (short stories), "Chandana Marangal" (novel), "Madhavikkuttiyude Unmakkadhakal" (short stories) and "Vandikkalakal" (novel).