Ambai translated from Tamil by Lakshmi Holmstom

Read time: about 2 minutes

Ambai is, again, one of the feminist writers who has written a lot on the women’s liberation.

Kailasam begins beautifully with a distracted woman annoyed by some noise in the house. She owns a dysfunctional refrigerator that makes strange noises and makes pines of ice. The fridge is nicknamed Kailasam for it personifies the epic Kailash Parbat which is covered throughput with ice.

Cover: Kailasam

The protagonist is reminded of a man who rather inappropriately approached her while she was in college.

She was friends with him for a long time. He was in the same college as her pursuing his PhD. He was older than the rest of the group. He used to be aloof. But one fine day Kailasam brought jasmine flowers for the protagonist and in a jiffy asked her to marry him.

‘Kamalam, I have called in love with you. I want to come close to you and touch you. I don’t know anything about women. But I want to take you to myself entirely. I feel my body burning, night and day. Would you please marry me?’

In just a few short sentences he professed his love for the woman he ever wanted to know. Kamalam did not take it well. She was offended, and rightly so. They stopped talking. He eventually got married and then got divorced. His frozen body was found at the bottom of Sankey Tank in Bangalore. His divorce and suicide bore no relations with one another.

He was lonely. All his life he wanted to be close to just one woman who rather cruelly refuses to be his. He took his own life. Kamala now goes back to the memories of the man who was mature enough to know his body and did not hesitate to relate love to physical intimacy.

Kamala now asks for his forgiven because now she understands.

People like me carried our bodies as if they were sinful burdens. The body was a cross one had to bear. That is what we were taught. They body could tip you into a deep and dangerous hole. You must stamp on the body, crush it, control it.

It is a beautiful story of familiarising with one’s body and accepting its desires. The story is written by a master of the crafts. It should be read just for the skill of the writer.

I read this story in ‘The Parrots of Desire’ by Amrita Narayanan. Parrots of Desire is an anthology of erotic Indian writings. The book was kindly sent to me By aleph publishing company.

This story can be found in the collection called ‘Fish in the Dwindling Lake’ in case you would not want to pick up the anthology.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com