Aami and her Pied Piper

Asha arrives early in the morning. When I wake up she is tidying the place. She hates clutter. She makes arrangements for the day. I have another packed day ahead.

We have a leisurely day at the mall with Asha’s grandchild and wear her out. Her dad comes to pick her up and we do some shopping and reach the cinema theatre in time for the evening show.

‘Aami’ is Asha’s choice. She thinks it is the safest option to take me as I am not easy to please. I only go to the cinemas when she is here and this is the second Indian cinema in a very very long time. The film has been running for a while and there are only a handful of people to watch it, which is a bonus. As the national anthem plays we stand. I like this new custom. I get the same goosebumps feeling when I hear the British anthem.

I haven’t read any of ‘Madhavikutty’s’ novels. I have only read some of her short stories during my childhood. I watch the film through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know Kamala Das or Kamala Surayya as she was later known. I thoroughly enjoy every single minute of the film. The opening scene says something to the effect that it doesn’t depict her true story. Where reality ends and where fiction begins doesn’t matter to me. I see a gifted child grow into an intelligent and fearless lady who lived a generation before us but was way ahead of her time. From an early age, Sri Krishnan, her imaginary pied piper stayed with her through thick and thin and gave her the necessary support and encouragement she needed. Regardless of who else came and went in her life, her husband, her muse who offered love and then threw her to the wolves, it was nice to know that he never left her side and was there till the end. As the film ended and one of her poems was shown, Asha and I took our time to leave the seats. A poem, I tried to search for later, but couldn’t find. It went something like- I wish I was less of a poet and more a good woman and something about showing a modicum of virtue. I wonder whether it is an advice to those who want to follow in her footsteps.

Amma calls out ‘’are you not coming?’’. Asha asks her if she enjoyed the film to which one of the two other ladies who are still in the theatre reply “it is a good film but not for children”, which sums up my understanding that even though it is over eighty years since Aami was born, there are still people in her native state who have problems accepting her writings and her paintings. My bucket list has grown a few more inches after reading some of her quotes. I need to start reading the long list of books and poems which got her a nomination for a Nobel literary prize.

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