Kamala Das or Madhavikutty, the poet, the woman has a strong personality- which is the source of the strength of her poetry. She has twisted, played with the age old concept of love. She has defined the complexity of man- women relationship and its physical aspects. Her love experience does not revolve round the traditional ideal of womanhood, instead it revolves round the extra-marital sexual relationship which is unfulfilled and chaotic. She has frankly interpretedlove in terms of sex.In her poetry we find the recurrent theme of certitude and precariousness of love which reflects her temperamental restlessness which is reflected both in prose and verse:-They did this to her, the men who knew her the man she loved, the manShe loved, who loved her not enough being selfishAnd a coward, the husband who neither loved norUsed her but was a ruthless watcher and the bandOf cynics she turned to, clinging to their chests whereNew hair sprouted like great-winged moths, burrowing herFace into their smells and their young lusts to forget,To forget, oh, to forget… and, they said, each ofThem, I do not love, it is notIn my nature to love, but I can be kind to you…Kamala Das’s obsessive search for true love & for silences, have got merged into her search for meaning & certitude in life. She frequently portrays the complex relationship between lust & love.
In Kamala Das’s poetry two aspects of love can be seen; the real fulfilling love and the purely carnal or commercial love. She boldly confesses the futility and meaninglessness of physical love. Her own traumatic experiences in love and sex reflect or more aptly are described in her poetry. Her approach to the theme of love is concentrated and original.The tone and temper of the entire collection of poems in Summer in Calcutta is set by the opening poem ‘The Dance of the Eunuchs’, with its blaze of irony. It objectifies the poet’s repressed desire through an external, familiar situation. Thepoem is powerful and bold, there is a sense of proportion in the use of image and metaphor and also a sustained tempo throughout the poem.In ‘The Freaks’, Kamala Das releases an important aspect of a woman’s psychology of love in her refusal to be pinned down to passive man. But while it identifies love with ‘a grand, flamboyant lust’, ‘In Love’ bring up the questionwhether she should call this ‘this skin-communicated thing’ love in light of its sensual completeness:- …Where Is room, excuse or even Need for love, for isn’t each Embrace a complete thing,a Finished jigsaw, when mouth on Mouth I lie, ignoring my poor Moody mind, while pleasure With deliberate gaiety Trumpets harshly into the Silence of the room……As in ‘The Dance of the Eunuchs’ so in ‘In Love’. The sun with its heat is suggestive of the warmth of passion and lust.
But if in the former it is the instrument of irony, in the latter it is the instrument of positive commitment. In ‘Winter’ also, for example, the warmth of sexual act, of her soul is set against the cold winds of the winter evenings ‘chuckling against the white window-panes.’Kamala das thinks that the “basis of ideal love is in its experience beyond sex through sex”. ‘A Relationship’ also explicitly identifies love with physical desire; the ‘blind kindness’ of the sexual desire which is beauty. ‘It was my desire that made him male/ And beautiful….’ She knows that neither verbal harshness nor verbal disloyalty can destroy their bonds……the betrayal doesn’t matter as long as the poet and her man can ‘communicate’ their wisdom to each other. Betray me? Yes, he can, but never physically; Only with words that curl their limbs at Touch of air and die with metallic sighs, What care I for their quick, sterile sting, while My body’s wisdom tells and tells again That I shall find my rest, my sleep, my peace And even death nowhere else but here in My betrayer’s arms….The love theme in Kamala Das’s poetry is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. On one hand she realizes love as the mechanical act of bodily union:- And, I loved his body without shame, On winter evenings ….This kind of relationship becomes a kind of compulsion for them and leads to only frustration. Mango leaves. They will bring us luck, She tells the pock-marked man who Took her in. He is confused. He Does not know whether to smile Or sulk. After the first three weeks They shun the word love……… ( the bangles)On the other hand, she prefers relations with other men. This is another facet of her theme of love. She seeks fulfillment from other men but in each experience the beloved if destined to be shocked by unfulfilment . Summer in Calcutta shows her overwhelming frustration leading to the final desire of death:-Spontaneity and flow give Kamala Das’s poem a kind of lyrical and pictorial quality which is both effective and touching. She takes the help of various images, which are drawn from nature; the image of the sun, the image of the sea, of birds like the bats, fowls etc, to express the depth of her emotions.