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Kerala bids tearful adieu to writer Kamala Das

Tuesday, June 02, 2009 04:00:41 PM, IANS


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Thiruvananthapuram: Nearly 1,000 people, including several ministers, converged at the Palayam Juma Masjid here early Tuesday to bid adieu to noted poet and writer Kamala Das, who died Sunday.


The award-winning writer, who wrote in both Malayalam and English, was accorded a state funeral and policemen gave a gun salute as her body was interred.


Kamala Das, who converted to Islam a decade ago and was known as Kamala Suraiya, died in Pune early Sunday. She was 75. She suffered from diabetes and was recently hospitalised with pneumonia. The end came in a private hospital, a family source said.


Her body was brought here Monday night after being taken to Thrissur, Kochi, Alappuzha and Kollam, where thousands of her admirers paid their last respects, many with tears in their eyes.


The body was kept at the VJT Hall here from 8 p.m to 11 p.m Monday and people came in hordes to have a last glimpse of the noted author. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan also paid his last respects.


On Tuesday morning, the mourners at the funeral included many politicians including Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Kerala's Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran and Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran.


The mood was sombre when her body was lowered into the resting place at 9 a.m. and people took turns to drop clods of earth as is customary at funerals.


Earlier, separate prayers for men and women were held according to traditional Muslim customs.


Born to V.M. Nair and Balamani Amma March 31, 1934, Kamala spent most of her childhood in Kolkata where her father worked.


Influenced by her poetess mother 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.

Kamala's first literary success came at age of 42 with her autobiography "My Story".


Her popular English works include "The Sirens" (Asian Poetry Prize winner), "Summer in Calcutta" (Kent's Award winner), "The Descendants" (poetry), "Alphabet of Lust" (novel), and "Yaa Allah" (poems).


Among her Malayalam works are "Pakshiyude Manam" (short stories), "Thanuppu" (short story and Sahitya Academy award winner), "Balyakala Smaranakal", "Varshangalkku Mumbu", "Palayan" (all novels), "Neypayasam" (short story), "Neermathalam Pootha Kalam" (novel and Vayalar Award winner) and "Madhavikkuttiyude Unmakkadhakal" (short stories).


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.


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