Kamala Surayya Age, Death, Husband, Family, Biography & More

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Death Cause: Respiratory Failure
Death Date: 31/05/2009
Age: 75

Kamala Das

Birth NameKamala Nair
Real nameKamala Das
Nickname(s)Madhavikutty [1]TestBook
Profession Poet
Debut Poem Anthology: Summer in Calcutta (1965)
Last workThe Kept Woman and Other Stories (Published after she passed away)
Awards, Honours, Achievements In 1963, she won the PEN Asian Poetry Prize.
In 1968, she won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Story – Thanuppu.
In 1984, she was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In 1985, she won the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award (English) for Collected Poems.
In 1988, she won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Story.
In 1997, she won the Vayalar Award for Neermathalam Pootha Kalam.
In 1998, she won the Asian Poetry Prize.
In 2002, she won the Ezhuthachan Award.
In 2006, she won the Honorary D.Litt by the University of Calicut.
In 2006, she won the Muttathu Varkey Award.
Personal Life
Date of Birth31 March 1934 (Saturday)
BirthplacePunnayurkulam, Ponnani taluk, Malabar District, British India (present-day Thrissur district, Kerala, India)
Date of Death31 May 2009
Place of DeathPune, Maharashtra
Age (at the time of death) 75 Years
Death CauseRespiratory Failure [2]The New York Times
Zodiac signAries
SignatureKamala Surraya signature
Nationality Indian
ReligionIslam (converted from Hinduism)
Food HabitVegetarian
Controversy Conversion to Islam:
Kamala Das was born into a Hindu family and converted to Islam in 1999 after over 64 years of practicing Hinduism. There was controversy surrounding this, and people were not happy about it across the nation. The leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad also threatened Kamala's life, suing her for misusing Hinduism in her comments about Guruvayur and claiming that she converted because Muslims had offered her a position in the government or a seat in assembly elections. According to Surraya she converted because of her love for Islam but as per her friends she converted because she fell in love with a Muslim man who wanted her to convert in order to marry her. However, she did not get married.
In an interview, Kamala talked about falling in love with a man at that age but she did not talk about the Man's religion. There were also rumours of her being a victim of Love Jihaad. [3]Madavikutty Blogspot
Kamala Das after conversion
Relationships & More
Marital Status (at the time of death)Widowed
Affairs/BoyfriendsSadiq Ali (Muslim League leader and MP)
Marriage DateYear, 1949
Husband/SpouseMadhav Das (bank officer)
ChildrenSon- • M D Nalapat (India's first Professor of Geopolitics and the UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal University)
Kamala Das with her eldest son
• Chinen Das
• Jayasurya Das
• Irshad Gulam Ahmed (Foster son)
Kamala Surayya foster son
Daughter- None
ParentsFather- V. M. Nair(managing editor of the famous Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi and a senior officer in the Walford Transport Company)
Mother- Nalapat Balamani Amma (Malayali poet)
SiblingsBrother- Shyam Sunder
Sister- Sulochana Nalapat
Kamala Surayya sister

kamala Das full picture

Some Lesser Known Facts About Kamala Surraya

  • Kamala Surraya was an Indian author and poet. She was well-known for writing under the pen name Madhavikutty. Poetry was Kamala’s specialty. Her writing subjects of choice, which included politics, child care, and female sexuality, gained her fame. She died on May 31, 2009, at the age of 75, in Pune’s Jehangir Hospital.
  • Kamala attended schools in Malabar and Calcutta. She began writing at the age of six, and at the age of fourteen, P.E.N. India published her first poem.
  • She got married at the age of 15 to Madhav Das, a bank official, who was 20 years older than her. The marriage lasted 43 years, until Madhava Das’ death. After marriage, she started adding “Das” to her name, i.e., Kamala Das. Soon after she turned 16, Kamala had her first son and talking about it she said,

    I was mature enough to be a mother only when my third child was born”

    Kamala Das with her family

    Kamala Das with her family

  • She was well-known for her English-language poetry and several short stories in Malayalam. In addition, Kamala Das wrote syndicated columns. Her outspoken essays, which spoke out on everything from politics to child care to women’s issues, were well-liked despite her previous statement that “poetry does not sell in this country [India]”. Confessional poet Kamala Das is frequently compared to writers like Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell for her poetry.
  • Surayya published her first book of poems, Summer in Calcutta, in 1965. She wrote about love, betrayal, and the consequent anguish which was written around similar themes written by her contemporary writers. In 1967, she published her second book of poetry, The Descendants, which was more bold and explicit and wrote about her femininity, individuality, and true feelings about men. Due to her bold expressions and explicit content, she was compared to American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath and French novelist Marguerite Duras.
  • Kamala wrote many poems including The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973), Only the Soul Knows How to Sing (1996), and Tonight, This Savage Rite (1979).
  • Kamala was also well known for her works in Malayalam literature. She wrote many poems in Malayalam including Naricheerukal Parakkumbol (1960), Swathanthrya Samara Senaniyude Makal (1991), Madhavikuttiyude Premakathakal (1998), and Malayalathinte Suvarna Kathakal (2002).
  • In 1976, Kamala wrote a novel in English Alphabet of Lust which was published by New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks publication house.
  • Later in the same year, she wrote an autobiography “My Story” which was published by Sterling Publishers in New Delhi. The book follows Kamala’s life from the time she was four years old through her experiences going to racist British colonial and missionary schools in Calcutta, her brutal and indulgent marriage, her sexual awakening, her literary career, her extramarital affairs, the birth of her children, and, in the end, her gradual but steady coming to terms with her partner, her writing, and her sexuality. The book became one of the most popular and controversial autobiographies by an Indian author. talking about the autobiography, poet and litterateur K. Satchidanandan said,

    I cannot think of any other Indian autobiography that so honestly captures a woman’s inner life in all its sad solitude, its desperate longing for real love and its desire for transcendence, its tumult of colours and its turbulent poetry.”

    Kamala Das's autobiography

    Kamala Das’s autobiography


  • Her autobiography was translated into 15 languages including French, Spanish, Russian, and German. [4]Live Mint
  • She was the Vice-chairperson of Kerala Sahitya Akademi, chairperson of Kerala Forestry Board, President of the Kerala Children’s Film Society, editor of the magazine, and poetry editor of Illustrated Weekly of India.
  •  In 1999, at the age of 64, Kamala announced that she was going to convert from Hinduism to Islam and change her name from Kamala Das to Kamala Surraya. According to her, a Muslim girl had started giving her lessons in Arabic. She shifted all the Hindu idols in her home, including her intimate ”friend and love” Lord Krishna to the guestroom and started practising Namaaz five times a day. Talking about the reason for her conversion in an interview, she said,

    Two plain reasons. One is the purdah. Second is the security that Islam provides to women. In fact, both these reasons are complementary, Purdah is the most wonderful dress for women in the world. And I have always loved to wear the purdah. It gives women a sense of security. Only Islam gives protection to women. I have been lonely all through my life. At nights, I used to sleep by embracing a pillow. But I am no longer a loner. Islam is my company. Islam is the only religion in the world that gives love and protection to women. Therefore, I have converted.” [5]Rediff

    On December 23, she began her formal initiation into Islam in front of the Muslim clergy at Palayam mosque in Thiruvananthapuram.

  • According to Kamala’s friends, the two reasons behind Kamala’s conversion were different from what she claimed. They said the first reason was “she is in love with a Muslim whom she will marry soon” and the second was ” she wants to please film-maker Ismail Merchant who is making a film based on her controversial biography My Story.”
  • In 2010, after the death of Kamala Surraya her friend, Canadian writer Merrily Weisbord published a memoir of her friendship with Kamala “The Love Queen of Malabar” in which she made many revelations about Kamala’s married life and also claimed that Kamala’s conversion was a case of Love Jihaad organised by a terrorist group from Saudi Arabia. she also claimed that Muslim League MP and orator Abdul Samad Samadani was paid 10 Lakh dollars to convert Kamala Das to Islam. [6]The Times of India
    Memoir written by Kamala's friend

    Memoir written by Kamala’s friend

    Merrily and Kamala

    Merrily and Kamala

  • Her last book, The Kept Woman and Other Stories, featuring a translation of her short stories, was published posthumously.

    Kamala Das' last book

    Kamala Das’ last book

  • On 9 February 2018, A biopic on her titled Aami directed by Kamal was released starring Manju Warrier as Kamala Surayya, and Murali Gopy as Madhava Das.