What explanation could there be for the names of Kamala Das?  Be Amy, or Be Kamala or, better still, be Madhavikutty.  It is time to choose a name.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Das might argue that as a woman, she should not be subject to a name that is reflective of patriarchy.  For Das', the name she was born with or had to take after marriage or even one that is christened are monikers associated with patriarchy. The names that a woman has to take are conditions of being forced. The identity in that name is a forced construction.  For example, "Madhavikutty" is a name reflective of her husband.  

Das would argue that her identity is evolving, one whose maturation and growth is reflection of name changes.  For example, when Das becomes "Kamala Surayya" it is a reflection of the Islamic identity that she embraces.  For Das, a name is reflective of a condition of what one chooses to accept.  Being forced to take a name is a denial of voice. She would suggest that she should not be forced to take a name just as she should not be forced to accept an identity.  It is for this reason that the many names to her identity is reflective of her condition of change and thought.  It is one that she rejects as a demand of patriarchy.


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