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“A long way gone” by Ishmael Beah: Book review

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A long way gone

by

Ishmael Beah

 

" A long way gone " by Ishmael Beah is an extraordinary memoir which gives a first hand report of the hardships and desolate situations faced by people and countries during war.Ishmael Beah is a graduate from Oberlin College and a member of the Human rights watch children’s rights division and advisory committee of U.S.A. He emerges as a gifted writer by reporting his life in a clear eyed and liberate fashion and will surely haunt the reader for some time.Among the different war stories which are published, this one stands out as a bestseller because of its simplicity and transparency as seen and experienced by the author. It is a first hand information and gives an idea to the reader of the problems faced by the civilians, the army and the rebels during any war like situation.

            In this story, the author is a 12 year old boy living happily with his close knit family in a place called Mattru Jong. He and his gang of friends, enjoyed school like any one of us and played rap music as pastime. The only exposure to war for them was movies. Suddenly their lives are torn apart by a group of rebels who attack unannounced  and the whole family is separated. Initially the author stays with his brother whom he later loses as they move from village to village in search of safety. The book vividly describes the impact on the young minds as they see families blown apart and the sufferings of those left behind.

             It also gives a vivid description of the life of refugees who are ill treated and bribed by the nation’s own army. This book depicts the events in sequence how the cruel fate, forces them to join the army and the hardships and atrocities they are forced to commit and how it changes the impressionable young minds from home loving  to destruction. This book not only gives the account of war but also the turmoils in the young minds as they try to re-acclimatize to the civilized way of life. Thankfully by the timely intervention of the UN, we find as we read that we will start to concur with the actions  done by these young minds. the author finds some timely respite as he is reinstated with his uncle at Sierra Lane only to be heading to war. He tries to escape in order to not end up as a rebel or recruit. Reading this book makes us wonder how any one can come out of such horror with his humanity & sanity intact.

            This book is also a testament of the ability of children to outlive their sufferings if given a chance. It really leaves an impression of a long way gone…by a determined impressionable mind……………………….. 

 

REVIEWED BY

AISHWARYA NANDAKUMAR

IX – C (Shift-I)

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Filed under: Book Reviews, ,

Online safety tips for kids

Safety By Age

 

2 to about 4:

This is the age of "lapware," when children start interacting with the computer in the presence of a parent or sibling. There are numerous activities and sites that are likely to be appropriate for this age group but, in most cases, it makes sense for the parent and child to be exploring together. This is not just a safety issue, but also a way to assure that the child has a pleasant experience, and to help build bonds between the child and the older person who is surfing the Internet with them.

Starting at about age 3, some children can benefit by having a bit more independence so that they can explore, experience discoveries, and make mistakes on their own. That doesn’t mean that they should be given free access. It’s probably best for parents to choose the Web sites they visit and not let them leave those sites on their own. You don’t necessarily need to stand over them or sit with them the entire time that they’re in a known safe site.

4 to about 7:

Children begin to explore on their own, but it’s still important for parents to be in very close touch with their children as they explore the Net. When your child’s at this age you should consider restricting her access only to sites that you have visited and feel are appropriate. For help with this matter, you can consider using one of the pre-screened Web sites in GetNetWise, as well as child-safe search engines.

At this age it’s important that kids experience positive results from sites that can enhance their discovery. The issue here isn’t so much avoiding dangerous sites, but making sure they are visiting sites that don’t frustrate them or lead them down blind alleys.

7 to about 10:

During this period, children begin looking outside the family for social validation and information. This is when peer pressure begins to become an issue for many kids. It’s also a time when kids are looking for more independence from parents, according to psychologist Richard Toft. During these years, children should be encouraged to do a bit more exploring on their own, but that doesn’t mean that the parents shouldn’t be close at hand. Just as you wouldn’t send children at this age to a movie by themselves, it’s important to be with them — or at least nearby — when they explore the Net. For this age group, consider putting the computer in a kitchen area, family room, den, or other areas where the child has access to Mom or Dad while using the computer. That way, they can be "independent" but not alone.

Also, consider using a filtering program or restricting them to sites that you locate via a child-safe search engine. Another option for this age group is a child-friendly browser.

When your child is at this stage, you need to be concerned not so much about what he’s doing online and with the PC as how long he’s spending on the PC. Be sure that his time on the computer and the Internet doesn’t take away from all his other activities. Kids need variety, and it’s not a good idea for them to be spending all of their time on any single activity, even reading books. One way to deal with this might be through the use of a software time-limiting tool. It’s even important to be sure that they are varying what they do online. Encourage them to explore a variety of Web sites, not just one or two of their favorites.

10 to about 12:

During this pre-teen period, many kids want to experience even more independence. If children aren’t already doing so, this is a time when they should start using the Internet to help with schoolwork and, perhaps, discover resources for their hobbies, sports activities, and other interests. This is also an age when you have to be concerned not just about what kids see and do on the Internet, but how long they are online. Your job is to help them manage their independence. Set limits on how often and how long kids can be online, and be sure that they are engaged in other activities such as sports, music, and book-reading.

At about age 12 children begin to hone their abstract reasoning skills. With these enhanced skills, they begin to form more of their own values and begin to take on the values of their peers. Before that they’re more likely to reflect the values of their parents. It’s important at this age to begin to emphasize the concept of credibility. Kids need to understand that not everything they see on the Internet is true or valuable, just as not all advice they get from their peers is valuable. A good way to illustrate this is for them to do a search for sites on subjects they know a lot about — favorite athletes or musicians, subjects they love in school, etc.

12 to about 14:

This is the time when many kids become very social and when they are most likely to be interested in online chat. Go over the basic privacy rules with your kids to be sure they understand never to give out information about themselves or to get together with anyone they meet online without first checking with their parents. Also, emphasize the importance of never exchanging photographs with people they don’t know. At this age they need to understand clearly the fact that people on the Internet may not be who they appear to be.

This is also an age where many children start expressing interest in sexual matters. It is natural for them to be curious about the opposite (or even same) sex and not unheard of for them to want to look at photos and explore sexual subjects. During this early exploratory period, it is especially important for kids to know that their parents are around and aware of what they are doing. You may not need to be in the same room as your kids the entire time they’re on the Net, but they do need to know that you and other family members can walk in and out of the room at any time, and will ask them about what they are doing online.

Don’t be alarmed if they are interested in exploring sexual material. How you manage this, of course, depends on your own view of such material. It’s important, however, to be aware that some of the materials they might find on the Internet are different — and more explicit — than some of the magazines that may have been around when you were that age. If kids search hard enough, they can probably find Web sites and newsgroups that explore sexual fantasies that they — and even you — might find disturbing or even frightening. This is probably the strongest argument for Internet filters but it’s also an argument for close parental involvement, reinforcing your family’s values, and creating a climate of trust and openness between parents and children.

Children at this age are likely to be interested in games that they can download from the Internet to play either online or offline. Some of these games may have content that parents feel is inappropriate, so it’s important to be aware of what your kids are doing on the computer, even when they’re not connected to the Internet. Monitoring software may help you in this effort.

This is also a period when many parents choose to speak with their children about sexual matters. It may be a good idea to think about how you might react if you discover that your child has visited places on the Internet that you feel are inappropriate.

You can use filtering and monitoring software at this age, but you may start to run into some resistance. What’s important is that you are honest with your kids and that they know what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you use filtering software, for example, you need to explain to them that you are doing it to protect them from material that you consider to be harmful. Just as you might not let them go to certain places in your community, you are exercising your parental right to keep them from surfing to certain types of places in cyberspace.

14 to about 17:

This can be one of the most exciting and challenging periods of a child’s (and parent’s) life. Your teen is beginning to mature physically, emotionally, and intellectually and is anxious to experience increasing independence from parents. To some extent that means loosening up on the reins, but by no means does it mean abandoning your parenting role. Teens are complicated in that they demand both independence and guidance at the same time.

Teens are also more likely to engage in risky behavior both online and offline. While the likelihood of a teen being abducted by someone he meets in a chat room is extremely low, there is always the possibility that he will meet someone online who makes him feel good and makes him want to strike up an in-person relationship. It is extremely important that teens understand that people they meet online are not necessarily who they seem to be.

Although it’s sometimes difficult to indoctrinate teens with safety information, they can often understand the need to be on guard against those who might exploit them. Teens need to understand that to be in control of themselves means being vigilant, on the alert for people who might hurt them.

The greatest danger is that a teen will get together offline with someone she meets online. If she does meet someone she wants to get together with, it’s important that she not go alone and that she meet that person in a public place.

It’s important for parents to remember what it was like when they were teenagers. Set reasonable expectations and don’t overreact if and when you find out that your teen has done something online that you don’t approve of. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously and exercise appropriate control and discipline, but pick your battles and try to look at the bigger picture.

If your teen confides in you about something scary or inappropriate that he encountered online, your first response shouldn’t be to take away his Internet privileges. Try to be supportive and work with your teen to help prevent this from happening in the future. And remember that your teen will soon be an adult and needs to know not just how to behave but how to exercise judgment, reaching her own conclusions on how to explore the Net and life in general in a safe and productive manner.

Courtesy: Getnetwise

Filed under: Online safety Tips, ,

Home-Schooling

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Progress: An outdoor school in Sandarwa

By Dina Fine Maron | Newsweek Web Exclusive

Courtesy: NEWSWEEK, May 1, 2009

One young woman’s fight to set up schools for girls in Afghanistan despite formidable cultural and logistical obstacles.

Some girls walk as much as two hours each way, their plastic sandals slapping against dirt trails and fields lining the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Others take even longer when puddles impede their progress. Their common destination is one of the scattered houses enlisted to double as classrooms in Godah, an isolated village in Wardak province. The homes are part of a network of six schools for girls in Wardak and Nangarhar provinces that educate more than 2,800 students, the product of the efforts of a 28-year-old Afghan woman named Sadiqa Basiri Saleem. To bring education to rural areas like this one—where many girls may not know a single woman who can read—Saleem has battled widespread illiteracy and daunting cultural obstacles for the past seven years, setting up schools to change the educational landscape, one child at a time.

After her own hopes of being a gynecologist were dashed because the Taliban forced her Afghan-run university in Pakistan to close, Saleem pooled her personal savings with that of a few other women, founding the only girl’s school in Godah. Since then the system has expanded, and her organization, the Oruj Learning Center, has started five more, though not without difficulty. It’s been less than a decade since Taliban rule blocked girls from attending school, and threats, both real and imagined, continue. Though the Taliban has its strongest hold on southern provinces like Kandahar, the communities that house Saleem’s six schools in eastern Afghanistan still feel its influence. A male teacher from one of her schools was stopped on the street by a stranger last year and asked if he teaches at a girl’s school. He quickly answered no, fearing for his life, and waited each day for further incident—but nothing more came of the conversation. "The sense is that [any of us] could be targeted at any time," says Saleem, who is currently working toward a B.A. in international relations at Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts, spending her summer and winter breaks overseeing the schools in Afghanistan and checking in on operations from afar the rest of the year.

In 2005, the tents that housed the Godah school burned to the ground. Though no one claimed responsibility for the midnight act of arson, and many think the tents were a target because they were to be a voting site in the first parliamentary elections (not because they housed a girls’ school), the attack still left some parents anxious about sending their daughters to school the next day. Most girls continued to show up, though, studying in the hot summer sun while waiting on new tents. Then two years ago, as reports of violence across Afghanistan increased, the schools moved once again from tents that had replaced the burnt ones to the school’s current locations: several volunteered private homes. "Just in case," Saleem says, noting that the move would make the girls safer since culturally it would be less acceptable for a stranger to enter a private home than a public space.

The Godah school isn’t the only one concerned for its safety. The Afghanistan Ministry of Education says that 458 government schools (mostly in the south) are closed due to threats of violence, leaving 400,000 boys and girls at home. In the 2008 school year alone—from March 2008 to March 2009—22 students and teachers were injured (including a November acid attack that left 15 girls and teachers scarred in Kandahar province). Another 33 were killed, a ministry spokesperson reports.

Building schools and ensuring that girls can attend has been one of the main objectives of the Afghani government and the nations that have contributed to its reconstruction, yet the guerrilla warfare that has sprung up in southern and eastern Afghanistan has proved a formidable obstacle.

Still, many of the girls continue to show up, encouraged by mothers, sisters and cousins who never had any chance to learn basic reading and writing themselves. In the aftermath of the tent burning, the girls studied in the shade for the next month, taking frequent breaks to drink from a nearby stream. "In 2005 things weren’t that bad. People were much more hopeful about the future," explains Shirin Sahani, 33, then a graduate student from Georgetown who visited the Godah school postfire while she interned with the Oruj Learning Center.

For Saleem, seeing the girls wash off the charred chairs and search through the ashes for usable supplies reminded her why she had worked to set up the school in the first place. "Bringing education to girls was based on the needs I witnessed, not a drive to bring about social change," she says.

It hasn’t been easy. Saleem remembers sitting with Godah community members three years before the fire, trying to persuade them to educate their daughters. Though many families had resisted the idea, she had two advantages: the support of her father, a respected elder in the community, and her own educational background. Saleem’s early education at an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan and later at a Pakistani private college had equipped her with the skills that would make her good money as a tutor.

But it is her religious faith that is her best weapon in trying to convince reluctant parents that the education of girls is sanctioned by the Qur’an. "The first word revealed to the Prophet is iqra: read," she says as part of her argument. "By educating girls you are honoring God. It’s right there in the Qur’an." She attributes her drive to make these schools succeed to her deep religious faith too. "I believe from my religion that if you have good intentions and keep it up, the time will come to do your good deed."

At the Godah school most students cluster for three hours a day, every day but Friday, learning to read, write and do math, and studying geography and the Islamic texts—standard curriculum in Afghanistan. The oldest students, fifth and sixth graders, also take on biology and history. Though it would be more culturally accepted to have female teachers for Godah’s older students, the Oruj Learning Center continues to employ mostly men since literate, educated women are hard to find in Afghanistan.

Despite all the hurdles, the students and their teachers continue to come. Even though the schools are now registered with the Afghanistan Ministry of Education, Saleem’s international donors (whose funds are often funneled through the Washington, D.C.-based Advocacy Project) foot the bill for most of the teachers’ salaries, and the school continues to recycle many old school supplies while waiting on new ones from the government. Saleem hopes to be able to hand her current crop of schools over to the government and move on to founding new ones, but for now she thinks she needs to continue her work there. "If I leave, I don’t see anyone else who will step up," she says.

This summer, diploma in hand, Saleem plans on returning to Afghanistan to oversee the schools and plan her next steps with her husband, a doctor who has supported Saleem’s own quest for education from their home in Afghanistan. The news is not good back home, she says. Earlier this month prominent Afghani women’s rights activist Sitara Achikzai was murdered outside her home in Kandahar province, and the Taliban claimed responsibility. "I’m not concerned for me but I am concerned for my girls, the students. Really, for everyone," she says. But she won’t quit, not as long as the students show up.

© 2009 Newsweek

Filed under: Article of the Week, ,

Cyber Time

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Questions

1. Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström, who were in the news recently, have been the brains behind which site that has run into trouble?

2. Intel’s first 32-nanometer chip, that has recently been ‘pulled in’ and will be shipping later this year, is called..?

3. Hal Varian is the Chief Economist at which cyber-giant?

4. Whose video site is called Crackle?

5. Whose ‘residents’ logged 124 million hours and economy topped $120 million in Q1 2009?

6. Who recently said he will donate 10,000 mosquito bed nets to charity for World Malaria Day if he is first to 1 million followers on Twitter?

7. Name the recent and popular second-generation P2P tool developed at the University of Washington with the aim of letting file swappers preserve their privacy?

8. Expand YTMND, the initialism for an online community centred on the creation of hosted Web pages.

9. Miles Beckett, Mesh Flinders and Greg & Amanda Goodfried created….?

10. What is/was the nickname for Ubuntu 9.04?

Answers

1. Piratebay.org

2. Westmere

3. Google

4. Sony

5. Second Life.

6. Ashton Kutcher.

7. OneSwarm

8. You’re The Man Now, Dog.

9. ‘Lonelygirl15’, the cult interactive web-based video series.

10. Jaunty Jackalope.

More Stories on : Cyber Quest

Courtesy

VV Ramanan, Business line

Filed under: YW-Cyber Quiz

Quiz time

 

Questions

Photo : AP

Dolly : The world’s first cloned sheep.

1. Alphabetically, which is the last of the seven Emirates in the United Arab Emirates when written in English?

2. If Dolly was the first cloned sheep, Injaz is the first cloned…?

3. Which rodent is also called a woodchuck or land beaver?

4. Ambulophobia is the fear of which normal activity?

5. Which popular candy, a hit with kids, was/is named after a racehorse?

6. The fruit of which funnily-shaped tree is called ‘monkey bread’?

Photo : AFP

Grand finish : At the Champs-Elysees.

7. What ‘first’ did English cricketer Claire Taylor achieve recently?

8. According to the nursery rhyme, whose garden grows thus: “…With silver bells and cockle shells/And pretty maids all in a row.”

9. On a standard computer keyboard, which number would be pressed with shift to produce the ‘hash’ sign (#)?

10. Which famous sporting event traditionally finishes at the Champs Elysee in Paris?

11. If it is Sansad for India, for which European country is it ‘Cortes Generales’?

12. If one does a work ‘gratis’, how much is he/she paid?

13. Which EPL was founded as Dial Square in 1886 by workers in Woolwich?

14. Which common flower is considered the symbol of secrecy?

15. According to the Mayans, both good and bad fortune was tied to a planet’s orbit. Name the planet.

Answers

1. Umm al-Quwain; 2. Camel; 3. Groundhog; 4. Walking; 5. Lollipop; 6. Baobab; 7. She became the first woman to be chosen a ‘Wisden Cricketer of the Year’; 8. Mary Mary Quite Contrary; 9. Three; 10. Tour de France; 11. Spain. It’s the native name for the National parliament; 12. Nothing!; 13. Arsenal; 14. Rose; 15. Venus.

Courtesy:

V.V. Ramanan, The Hindu

Filed under: Young World Quiz

A BETTER INDIA; A BETTER WORLD: N. R. Narayana Murthy

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Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd

“When you see world class supermarkets and food chains in our towns, and when our urban youngsters gloat over the choice of toppings on their pizzas, why should 51 per cent of children in the country be undernourished?” asks Infosys mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy in his introduction to “A Better India: A Better World”.

A comparison of this kind, which underlines the glaring disparity in income levels in India of the post-1990s, is commonly made to critique the policies of economic liberalisation and the development priorities accompanying them. Of course, the author often described as the “Information Technology czar” of India is far from being against economic reform.

In fact, in the very first chapter, he talks about being on a train along the border between what was then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, an experience that purged him of “any last vestige of affinity for the Left” and transformed him from “a confused Leftist into a determined compassionate capitalist.”

Growth

With this out of the way, Mr. Murthy affirms and reaffirms his faith in the “virtues of compassionate capitalism” (as opposed to laissez-faire capitalism) in several chapters and highlights the “need for broadbasing these reforms for inclusive growth.” The “only solution to the problem of poverty is the creating of jobs with good disposable incomes,” he says, arguing this is an end that can be achieved by entrepreneurs who convert ideas into jobs and wealth, with the government playing the facilitator.

Lest we mistake this as a treatise on business and profits, he repeatedly explains in the 38 speeches compiled here that the “elite and influential” class should have a strong moral conscience and “relate to the reality that is India” with all its contradictions, show “fairness to the less fortunate” and bring “hope and betterment to the millions of poor, uneducated…”

The economic downturn may have dimmed the enthusiasm of many to freemarketeers. But Mr. Murthy, a beneficiary of the 1991 reforms, has unflagging faith in the fundamentals of this regime. Many of the lectures were delivered before India began to feel the full impact of recession. The solution he offers to a range of problems — from urban infrastructure to healthcare and primary education — generally involves large doses of private participation across sectors.

Aphorisms

Divided into sections such as “Address to students,” “Values,” and “Leadership challenges,” the articles here are essentially a scattered bunch of thoughts. The format — speeches delivered in different contexts — seems to have provided greater room for “inspirational” aphorisms rather than for the building of an argument in a sustained way. Even when he addresses a complex set of questions, the answers sometimes end up being predictable and anticlimactic.

There are citations galore from people as varied as Mahatma Gandhi and Thomas Friedman. Honesty, hard work, discipline and so on are sometimes advanced as final solutions. There is a tone of avuncular advice running through the book. So much so that it might eminently qualify to be a text book for those who champion “corporate social responsibility.”

Courtesy:

S. BAGESHREE

The Hindu

Filed under: Book of the week, , ,

Kamala Surayya

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Kamala Surayya (born Kamala Das on March 31, 1934-May 31, 2009), is a well-known Indian writer who writes in English as well as Malayalam, her native language. She is considered to be one of the outstanding Indian poets writing in English, although her popularity in Kerala is based chiefly on her short stories and autobiography. Much of her writing in Malayalam came under the pen name Madhavikkutty. She was born in Malabar in Kerala, India. She is the daughter of V. M. Nair, a former managing editor of the widely-circulated Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, and Nalappatt Balamani Amma, a renowned Malayali poetess. Kamala Das is probably the first Hindu woman to openly and honestly talk about sexual desires of Indian woman, which made her an iconoclast of her generation.[1]

Biography

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Kamala Das spent her childhood between Calcutta, where her father was employed as a senior officer in the Walford Transport Company that sold Bentleys and Rolls Royce, and the Nalappatt ancestral home at Ponnayoorkulam in south Malabar region. Her husband often played a fatherly role for both Kamala and her sons. Because of the great age difference between Kamala and her husband, he often encouraged her to associate with people of her own age.[2]

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Like her mother, Kamala Das also excelled in writing. Her love of poetry began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalappatt Narayana Menon, a prominent writer. However, she did not start writing professionally till she was married and became a mother. When Kamala wished to begin writing, her husband supported her decision to augment the family’s income. Being the housewife, she could not use the morning-till-night schedule enjoyed by her great uncle. She would wait until nightfall after her family had gone to sleep and would write until morning: “There was only the kitchen table where I would cut vegetables, and after all the plates and things were cleared, I would sit there and start typing” (“Warrior” interview). This rigorous schedule took its toll upon her health, but she views her illness optimistically. It gave her more time at home, and thus, more time to write.[3]

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She is famous for her many Malayalam short stories as well as many poems written in English. This Keralite is recognized as one of the foremost poetesses of India. She is also a syndicated columnist. She has moved away from poetry because she claims that “poetry does not sell in this country (India)”, but fortunately her forthright columns do. Her columns sound off on everything from women’s issues and child care to politics.

Her eldest son M D Nalapat is married to a princess from the Travancore Royal House. He holds the UNESCO Peace Chair and Professor of geopolitics at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. He was the former resident editor of Times of India. Her second son Chinem is placed in Bangalore.

Kamala Surayya died on 31st May 2009 in Pune  and  buried on 02 June 2009 at Jum-a-Masjid Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram.

Writings

English

Her first book, Summer In Calcutta was a promising start. She wrote chiefly of love, its betrayal, and the consequent anguish, and Indian readers in 1965 responded sympathetically to her guileless, guiltless frankness with regard to sexual matters. Ms. Das abandoned the certainties offered by an archaic, and somewhat sterile, aestheticism for an independence of mind and body at a time when Indian women poets were still expected to write about teenage girlie fantasies of eternal, bloodless, unrequited love.

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Musing of a lonely heart is a common theme in her poems. It seeks love with never ending passion. Lust, greed and hunger never satiate and finally the mind becomes an old playhouse with all its lights put out. For Das, poetry (or love?) is “The April sun squeezed like an orange juice”, the heat permeates into the reader’s mind. When she is moving to a new city, “Sadness becomes a silent stone in the river’s unmoving core”. She bid farewell to “the shadows behind the windowpane, the rain, the yellow moon, the crowd and the sea”. This sensitivity is the strength of her poetry.

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At 42, she published her autobiography, My Story, baring the secrets of her heart. It creates a lot of interest and controversies though not for any literary value.She herself later made it clear that it WAS after all a work of fiction and should not be read that literally.She alleges that many translators have not done justice to the original and it is one of the reason that complicated the whole matter. The book was translated into many foreign languages—about 15.

Malayalam

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Kamala Das, better known as Madhavikutty is one of the foremost short story writers in Malayalam. In any listing, she figures among the top 5 writers, even after considering the personal choices and socio-cultural background of the readers. She writes, with dexterity, the story of poor old servant in Punnayoorkulam or the sexual disposition of upper middle class women living near a metropolitan city or in the middle of the ghetto.

Her writing style is economical and the use of language is very precise. Her widely acclaimed stories include Pakshiyude Manam, Neypayasam, Thanuppu, and Chandana Marangal. She wrote a few novels, among which Neermathalam Pootha Kalam stands out, which was received favourably by the reading public as well as the critics. It recreates the nostalgia of an old ancestral home with it adjacent snake shrine. It is often said that even her casual talks falls in the genre of short stories. Such is her creative genius that even after succumbing to several unwanted controversies, she remains a widely popular figure.

Awards and other recognitions

Kamala Das has received many awards for her literary contribution. Some of them are

She has traveled extensively to read poetry to Germany’s Essen, Bonn and Duisburg universities, Adelaide Writer’s Festival (Adelaide, Australia), Frankfurt Book Fair, University of Kingston, Jamaica, Singapore, and South Bank Festival (London), Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), Columbia University (New York), Qatar, Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, etc. Her works are available in French, Spanish, Russian, German and Japanese.

She has also held positions as Vice chairperson in Kerala Sahitya Academy, chairperson in Kerala forestry Board, President of Kerala Children Film Society, Orient editor of Poet magazine[4] and Poetry editor of Illustrated Weekly of IndiaISSN 0019-2430

Conversion to Islam

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Born in a conservative Hindu Nair (Nallappattu) family having Royal anscestry, she embraced Islam in 1999 at the age of 65 and assumed the name Kamala Suraiya. Like the themes of her stories, conversion too, kicked up much heat and dust in the social and literary circles.[5]

Her statements like “I’m converting Krishna into Allah and making him the Prophet after naming him Mohammed. If you go to Guruvayur now Krishna will not be there he will be with me” infuriated many conservative Hindus. They cannot digest when some one who has written

Krishna, I am melting,
Melting, melting
Nothing remains
But you

Starts writing,

Ya Allah
I perceive the Prophet’s features, as
yet unrevealed, on my beloved’s
mien…

Her serious readers observed the same undercurrents lying beneath both lines, this time more lively.

She was also active in politics in India, and has launched a national political party known as the Lok Seva Party, to concentrate on humanitarian work as well as to provide asylum to orphaned mothers and promote secularism. In 1984, she contested election to enter parliament, but lost.

Bibliography

English
  • 1964: The Sirens (Asian Poetry Prize winner)
  • 1965: Summer in Calcutta (poetry; Kent’s Award winner)
  • 1967: The Descendants (poetry)
  • 1973: The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (poetry)
  • 1976: My Story (autobiography)
  • 1977: Alphabet of Lust (novel)
  • 1985: The Anamalai Poems (poetry)
  • 1992: Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories (collection of short stories)
  • 1996: Only the Soul Knows How to Sing (poetry)
  • 2001: yaa Allah (collection of poems) published by [IPH]

middle age[poetry]

Malayalam
  • 1964: Pakshiyude Manam (short stories)
  • 1966: Naricheerukal Parakkumbol (short stories)
  • 1968: Thanuppu (short story, Sahitya Academi award)
  • 1987: Balyakala Smaranakal (Childhood Memories)
  • 1989: Varshangalkku Mumbu (Years Before)
  • 1990: Palayan (novel)
  • 1991: Neypayasam (short story)
  • 1992: Dayarikkurippukal (novel)
  • 1994: Neermathalam Pootha Kalam (novel, Vayalar Award winner)
  • 1996: Chekkerunna Pakshikal (short stories)
  • 1998: Nashtapetta Neelambari (short stories)
  • 2005: Chandana Marangal (Novel)
  • 2005: Madhavikkuttiyude Unmakkadhakal (short stories)2x
  • 2005: Vandikkalakal (novel)

References

  1. ^ rediff.com: The Rediff Interview/Kamala Suraiya
  2. ^ K e r a l a . c o m – God’s own country Keralam India-Celebrities
  3. ^ http://magnamags.com/magna_savvy/node/521
  4. ^ Love and longing
  5. ^ The Hindu : Magazine / Personality : Still a rebel writer

Courtesy: Wikipedia

An Introduction by Kamala Das

Poem

An Introduction
Kamala Das

I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I amIndian, very brown, born inMalabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.
Don’t write in English, they said, English is
Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.
It is half English, halfIndian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don’t
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
Is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware. Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain or the
Incoherent mutterings of the blazing
Funeral pyre. I was child, and later they
Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs
Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.
WhenI asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank Pitifully.
Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending games.
Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don’t cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love … I met a man, loved him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants. a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love. In him . . . the hungry haste
Of rivers, in me . . . the oceans’ tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is I. Anywhere and,
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I
In this world, he is tightly packed like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh, it is I who make love
And then, feel shame, it is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat. I am sinner,
I am saint. I am the beloved and the
Betrayed. I have no joys that are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I.

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