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Kamala Surayya dies at 75,will be buried a Muslim

Poetess and short story writer Kamala Surayya nee Madhavikutty,among the first Indian writers in English....

Written by Vinod Mathew | Pune |
June 1, 2009 12:58:20 am

Poetess and short story writer Kamala Surayya nee Madhavikutty,among the first Indian writers in English,who passed away at 1.55 am Sunday in a Pune hospital,is to be buried as per Muslim religious rites,at the Palayam Juma Masjid premises in Thiruvananthapuram.

Madhavikutty,75,was admitted at Jehangir Hospital here with acute pneumonia and breathing problems on April 18 and had been on a ventilator ever since. She is survived by three sons.

Her conversion to Islam in December 1999 that had created a storm in Kerala will come under public gaze for the last time on Tuesday. And the ripples set off by the conversion were visible even on Sunday as her death certificate was made in the name of Kamala Madhava Das and the accompanying smasan parvana was filled with the venue for funeral at Vaikunth (city crematorium) and the date for the funeral as 31/05/09. Clearly,the decision taken in the morning was changed later in the day.

“My mother was a Muslim for many years and died a Muslim. She had converted to Islam happily and of her free will. It doesn’t matter what I or my brothers want. It was her wish (to convert to Islam) and we will respect it and abide by it. There is no way a posthumous reconversion can be held. So her funeral will have to be as per Islamic norms. It was also her wish that she be returned to Kerala,” Monu Nalapat,Madhavikutty’s eldest son,said.

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Born into a traditional Nair family with one of the richest literary lineages,Madhavikutty (her mother Balamaniyamma was a leading poetess of Kerala and great uncle Nalapat Narayana Menon a literary giant) was ever willing to court controversies — with the content of her writings,especially her autobiography My Story (English),which was considered too liberally laced with sex by puritans,later when she converted or when she tried to donate a portion of her ancestral property in Punnayoorkulam in north Kerala,with a temple,to the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP).

She decided to shift out of Kerala to settle down with her youngest son Jayasurya Das in Pune (her other son is Chinnan Das). This year also saw the land transaction favouring KSSP getting completed when a team from Kerala descended in Pune to wrap up the deal.

During the last couple of months,Kerala minister for culture and education MA Baby visited the ailing poetess twice and is understood to have offered to make arrangements for a state funeral. And it was Baby again who came calling today to take her body home. Not many from the Kerala literary circle visited her during her Pune days except for Sukumar Azhikode and Purushan Kadalundy,representing KSSP,and film maker Adoor Goplalakrishnan.

“I’m happy she was brought here in February 2007 and looked after by my wife and daughter. She even brought out a collection of poems which HarperCollins is in the process of publishing,” said Jayasurya adding she deserved all the respect that the Kerala government was now offering.

The Kerala government is making all arrangements for a state funeral — from the body being taken to Mumbai and from there to Kochi by flight tomorrow,to the public viewing at Ernakulam,Alapuzha,Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram before the funeral

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