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
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.