To the Indian reader of fiction and poetry, Kamala Das (1934–2009) needs no introduction. Her novels, collections of poetry and short stories in English and Malayalam – and indeed her life itself – have both challenged and redefined the boundaries of middle-class morality. Her sensational autobiography, published in English as My Story, created a storm in literary circles and established her as the iconoclast of her generation. Her conversion to Islam in 1999 at the age of sixty-five sent social and literary circles into another tizzy. Wages of Love: Uncollected Writings of Kamala Das brings together stories, plays, poems and non-fiction writing that have previously not been anthologized.
While ‘The Fair-Skinned Babu’ is the sardonic tale of an author who has become a Muslim searching for a contract killer to commission her own killing, ‘Neipayasam’ is the poignant story of a father feeding his children the delicious dessert prepared by their mother whose death that morning the children are too young to comprehend. In one of her essays, she writes about contesting the parliamentary election in 1984 and, in another, about Khushwant Singh’s allegation that she had manipulated her nomination for the Nobel.
Expertly compiled by Suresh Kohli, and including a heartfelt introduction by him, Wages of Love revives the free soul and literary genius that was Kamala Das.