Discuss self-consciousness expression in Kamala Das's poem "An Introduction".

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In the poem, "An Introduction," the speaker seems to battle with her own self-consciousness, which is caused or at least exacerbated by the people ("critics, friends, visiting cousins") all around her who tell her how she should speak, how she should look and how she should behave.

In the opening part of the poem, the speaker, addressing these people, asks, "Why not let me speak in / any language I like?" She goes on to insist that her imperfect English is a perfect voice for her to speak in, and she claims its imperfections, "its distortions, its queerness" as her own.

Later in the poem the speaker lists all of the demands that the people around her make of her: "Dress in sarees, be girl / Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook." These people insist that it is time for her to "Fit in" and "Choose ... a role." Implicitly, the speaker rejects all of these arbitrary, restrictive roles and expectations.

Towards the end of the poem, the speaker seems to throw off the self-consciousness with which she has been burdened, and replaces it with a defiant, proud self-awareness. She repeatedly and unapologetically proclaims "It is I" and "I am," as if to say to her critics that she is this person, whether they like it or not. She is, she says, this person who "drink(s) lonely / Drinks at twelve, midnight," and who "make(s) love / And then, feel(s) shame." In the final line of the poem, in a moment that feels like some sort of cathartic release, the speaker declares, "I too call myself I."

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