Kamala Surayya – Kamala Das before her conversion to Islam on December 11, 1999, at age 65, and popularly known in Malayalam literature by her pen name Madhavikutty is still being demonized by India’s ruling party BJP and its anti-Muslim Hindu extremist (Hindutva) groups.
Leela Menon, an Islamophobe Hindu journalist and the chief editor of Janmabhumi, a Malayalam newspaper run by the BJP has published an article in which she claimed that though Kamala Das converted to Islam – she latter wanted to revert to her Hindu religion but was advised by her elder son not to do so as he was afraid that Muslim zealots would murder her.
Leela Menon also claimed that Kamala Das converted to Islam against the wishes of her Hindu husband and two sons from their marriage as she fell in love with M.P. Abdussamad Samadani, then 40, former MP and present MLA from Kottakkal. Samadani, who was 25 younger than Kamala and already married. Both Samadani and his wife were poetry lovers and visited Kamala Das in her house.
Merrily Weisbord, Canadian non-fiction writer, documentary-maker, and author of book, Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das, has refuted Leela Menon’s lies about her friend. Watch a video below.
Kamala Surayya visited United States and Canada. In an interview she said: “I’d like to make Islam the religion of the new millennium. I will tell people the virtues of this religion and share the happiness I experienced after embracing Islam. I have no words to explain the contentment I feel now. I have never felt such happiness in my life. I feel loved and protected. I am an old person. I want this love and protection. I understand that a good Muslim should help others.”
Kamala Das was born in a practicing Hindu family in Kerala state. She was one of India’s leading English poets and authors. She wrote under Madhavikutty name in Malayalam and as Kamala Das and Surayya in English. Her honors include the National Academy Award. She died on May 31, 2009 at 75 age and was buried at the Palayam Jamia Masjid at Thiruvananthapuram with full state honor.
One of her Malayalam story translated into English can be read here.