Summer in Calcutta by Kamala Das by Bijay Kant Dubey SignUp
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Summer in Calcutta by Kamala Das
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

What is this drink but
The April sun, squeezed
Like an orange in
My glass? I sip the
Fire, I drink and drink
Again, I am drunk
Yes, but on the gold
of suns, What noble
venom now flows through
my veins and fills my
mind with unhurried
laughter? My worries
doze. Wee bubblesring
my glass, like a brides’
nervous smile, and meet
my lips. Dear, forgive
this moments lull in
wanting you, the blur
in memory. How
brief the term of my
devotion, how brief
your reign when i with
glass in hand, drink, drink,
and drink again this
Juice of April suns.

Summer in Calcutta is one of those poems of Kamala Das in which she not only reminisces the summer spent in Calcutta, but compares with the summer felt within bodily with the internal twitches working at the dark consciousness level. Though we call her a feminist writer, confessional and autobiographical, so candid and frank in expression, but she is erotic, obscene, pornographic, sexual and bodily too at the same time as she cannot without talking about sex and sexual love, physical satisfaction and the quenching of the lust. The summer is hot and blazing no doubt, but she too is hot. The heat of the summer not, but of the body lets it not the poetic persona to be quiet. Something is corroding her psychologically and physically and the poetic female persona seems to be crawling after that gratification. Sambhoga to Samadhi seems to be the philosophy of the poetess. The things of the dark consciousness are the main properties of her poetry. Summer siestas full of sweating and heat aggravate sexual love and affection. She is very frivolous and naughty as she plays with double meaning speaking in overtones and undertones. Sex satisfaction is all that ails her internally.

Summer in Calcutta is not the summer of Calcutta, but the summer feeling of Kamala, who is just after sensuality, madly after love, man-woman relationship. Her summer is one of the bodily summer in which the protagonists act emotionally and abnormally, going after the sun. The gulmohars blooming in summer do not have anything to tempt and charm Kamala, but the summer of the body, the twitches and intrigues of it during the noontime siesta. Sweating and kissing and relishing upon is the thing of deliberation. There is something of The Sun Rising of John Donne in it. Kamala is but the Lady Chatterley of D.H. Lawrence. To put it ironically, the April sun is like an orange and Kamala after squeezing it taking a glass of orange juice. She is a sexist and her poetry an exercise in sexual enterprise; the dreams of sex and love are bound to give pleasure to anybody else who goes through it. Kamala has fallen into a bad company of lovers, readers and critics.

We do not know it who she, the Mira or the Radha in her love for Krishna? Is she  classical or contemporary? Is she a Krishnite or a modern Radha? We know it not nor can we answer it. Is she taking a glass full of squeezed orange or is daydreaming sexually? It is very difficult to understand her drama, the drama of a modern woman. Is the protagonist a sexually dissatisfied woman of D.H. Lawrence’s novels and stories?

Kamala Das as a poetess is Lawrentine, as she draws from flesh and blood contact, attraction and repulsion met in love, love and hate theme, give and take relationship. She is a poetess of the body, not the soul, but wants to liberate the soul of womankind. Her poetry is the poetry of love, the thirst of it. Spiritually she may be sick, but is a poetess of the body.

The politics of poetry and the poet, Kamala is one such name doing politics with poetry, writing the poetry of feminism, a media-savvy politician, a poetry-writer. Poetry as the politics of feminism and the feminist as a leader holds true in this context.

We applaud her for the critical appreciation and admiration which she has received and we are happy to read about it. But there is something to share with and to be said with reservation that we often like to hear, go by the words of Kamala, but not those of her husband. Had we something on his part then justice could have been reached at least. Kamala as a writer draws from D.H. Lawrence, Judith Wright, Sylvia Plath and so on Western feminists and the writers of a confessional slant. Even the summer which she describes in the poem entitled Summer in Calcutta, God knows what summer is it? There is nothing of the season, not even the heat and dust swirling and playing with into the streets. It may be certainly her modern style, but the summer hints towards otherwise. Bodily lust, hunger and craving are the things of her poetry and there is nothing more. Apart from it, she is media-savvy, who can do it all for to be in the media glare and limelight. The summer of the body is the favorite season of hers. To see it otherwise, she is a spiritually sick child. Vatsyayna, Freud and Rajneesh seem to the best choices of hers. A writer of bodily love, she is not Mira or Radha, though we call her. The other thing too is this that we heaped research dissertations on her slender and slim books rather than appreciating the whole genre in full.

The poetess enquires about the drink it is, the glass of juice she is going to take which is but the April summer sun squeezed like an orange into her glass. This is how the poem begins:

What is this drink but
The April sun, squeezed
Like an orange in
My glass?

This is her glass she is going to take, this is the juice she is going to sip giving her lips to, tasting the drink and juice. But it is not the soft drink that is going to quell her internal fire. The thirst is internal and very personal even though may be thirsty for which the glass of juice will work it.

She sips and sips, but is still thirsty and wants more, hints it otherwise:

I sip the
Fire, I drink and drink
Again, I am drunk

It is not a thing of the common thirst; it is but a matter of bodily thirst, the soul licking the body. The more she has and the more she is thirsty, craving for more and more and thirst turns into otherwise and she feeling it not normally. When she says that she sips fire and keeps drinking, it takes us into the corridors and terraces of secret love and loving where the sick souls speak in whispers speaking the dark mystic poetry of love just like the phantom-listeners sharing among themselves. Having felt the summer, the gold of the suns, she gets puzzled and appears to have taken. Had it been wine, it would have been good. Here the persona seems to be a drinker; a bar girl. What summer can be more grueling than this summer of the body?

Hot and fiery from within, she feels it unable to bear the fire and heat overpowering her and a time comes when venom seems to be overflowing through her veins:

Yes, but on the gold
of suns, What noble
venom now flows through
my veins and fills my
mind with unhurried
laughter?

The summer is not just the thing doing the rounds, but the sun falling upon and it is now the gold of the suns overtaking her with the imagery. God knows what this strangeness is, why the mind gets filled with this type of laughter.

Her worries start dozing with the situations overpowering matched with the drinking of the drink full of bubbles meeting the lips:

My worries
doze. Wee bubblesring
my glass, like a brides’
nervous smile, and meet
my lips.

Whether he turns up or not, which she is expecting so earnestly, but is not fortunate enough to avail of always, she will bear it in the as usual way:

Dear, forgive
this moments lull in
wanting you, the blur
in memory.

Again she talks of fidelity and infidelity in love and the mind brings back the pictures of Adam and Eve and Samson and Delilah:

How
brief the term of my
devotion, how brief
your reign when I with
glass in hand, drink, drink,
and drink again this
Juice of April suns.

The term of her devotion may be brief so his faithfulness and sincerity. It is very difficult to be sure of one’s own stint as the things and times changing so the habits and tastes of man. If she commits mistakes after being overpowered by emotions, she must be pardoned as she has developed the habit of taking.

Let us see what she means to relate in which context of deliberation. Summer In Calcutta contains in the language of sexual love. The poem shows the poetess as a lover of the body, not the soul. But it is also a fact that the soul dwells it in the body. What can a poor woman do it as she has been made dependent upon?

Summer in Calcutta as a poem takes us to the highest pedestal of thinking in bringing closer to women studies, human rights and violations, freedom of speech and expression, gender bias and equality, feminism and psychoanalysis. Commonly, it is a poem of love and sex and dreams, a poem of lustful summer siestas so full of private and personal twitches and sexuality. But if to see it differently, it is a poem of revolt and rebellion, feministic movement against patriarchy, male domination and bodily possession. Are the women for to be exploited? Why is such a Divine Set-up of things? Is sex not a routine affair possessive and exploitive, dull and monotonous and boring? Can women have not the lone existence of their own? What does a woman do in a marriage dressing as a coy and shy bride? What is it in reality a marriage? A contract, an arrangement for what? The soul is neither a male nor a female. Shiva as Ardhanarishwara, half-male, half-female is the answer to be felt and confided in.

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22-Aug-2020
More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey
 
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