When writer and poet Kamala Das first wrote her infamous autobiography, it was met by critics with a mixture of admiration and shock. Here was a woman in the 1970s writing openly about sexual desire, abuse, extramarital affairs and her awakening as a writer. While Das later admitted that some sections of the book were fictionalised, it has stood the test of time as one of the most enduring accounts of the life of a woman writer in India.
Originally published in Malayalam as Ente Katha, the book was first read by a scandalised public when it was serialised in the weekly literary magazine Malayalanadu, which is now defunct. The book is written in the form of a novel – 50 chapters that follow a chronological narrative from missionary schools in Kolkata to an abusive marriage to her extramarital affairs, the birth of her children and the agonising process of becoming a writer.
It is one of the most brutally honest tellings of what it was like to be an independent-minded woman in India, catapulting Das to the status of an icon for women yearning to escape the domestic oppression and forge a sexual identity. While Das went on to write multiple novels and poetry collections, she has been immortalised by her almost-autobiography My Story.
First published in 1973. Translated and published in English in 1977.