A couple of weeks after her death, tributes to Kamala Das (Suraiyya) have started appearing across the world. Strangely, the Toronto Star’s print edition published what seems to be Das’s obituary in the Travel section. Both London Times (Timesonline) and the NYT published comprehensive obits that do justice to the Das’s importance to Indian literature.
Das belonged to the 1970s.
By that, I mean she earned her fame and notoriety after publishing her My Story in the mid-1970s. The popular press termed the book pornographic and puerile. And, she had to stave off criticisms about that for the next two decades or so.
While I was reading Das’s obits, I was reminded of another mercurial woman – Protima Bedi – who also rocked the 1970s when she streaked across the Juhu beach and was quite blasé about being photographed in the nude.
There were so many of these non-conformists abound in that decisive decade in India. Some of them are still around, but they prefer confirming now. Shobhaa De comes to mind in this category.