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Google Doodle honors South Indian writer; who is she?

When one opens the search engine Google today, the usual logo is replaced by the Doodle version, remembering a famous South Indian writer.

Now, who is she that the Google Doodle honors her?

Kamala Surraiyya was one of the finest Malayalam poetess and an Indian English writer in the country. She is popularly known as Madhavikutty or Kamala Das.

Kamala was born in Thrissur district of Kerala, on March 31, 1934, to V M Nair, who was a former managing editor of Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, and Nalapat Balamani Amma, a renowned Malayali poet. Her childhood was spent between Calcutta, where her father was working in the Walford Transport Company which sold automobiles like Bentley and Rolls Royce and ancestral home in Punnayurkulam.

Taking after her mother, Kamala too turned to the world of literature and excelled in it. Her love of poetry began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalapat Narayana Menon, a prominent writer.

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At the age of 15 she married to a bank officer, Madhava Das who encouraged her literary talent, and soon she started publishing her works in both Malayalam and English.

Her popularity in Kerala is based chiefly on her short stories and autobiography, while her oeuvre in English, written under the name Kamala Das, is noted for the poems and explicit autobiography. She was also a widely read columnist and wrote on diverse topics including women’s issues, child care, politics among others.

Her open and honest treatment of female sexuality, free from any sense of guilt, infused her writing with power, but also marked her as an iconoclast in her generation.

Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons.

Born in a conservative Hindu Nair family, her embracing and conversion to Islam was not well accepted,

She embraced Islam on December 11, 1999, at the age of 65 and assumed the name Kamala Surayya.

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She gave an interview as “I am against the Hindu way of cremating the dead. I do not want my body to be burnt. But this was only a minor consideration. I have always had a strong affection for the Islamic way of life. I adopted two blind Muslim children, Irshad Ahmed and Imtiaz Ahmed, and they brought me close to Islam. I had to study Islamic scriptures before teaching them. One is working as a professor in Darjeeling and another as a barrister in London.”

After suffering from acute diabetes and related illnesses, she passed away at the age of 75 in Pune on May 31, 2009. She was admitted to Jehangir Hospital with acute pneumonia and breathing problems for more than a month.

She was also known as Aami by fans.

Paying tribute to her, Malayalam cinema is soon to release a movie titled Aami, with Manju Warrier as Kamala Surayya, along with  Murali Gopy, Tovino Thomas, and Anoop Menon.

 The role previously was given to Vidya Balan, who later rejected the film.

The film is currently in post-production. 


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