Kuttykkunhu Thangkachi: Kerala’s First Female Playwright and Carnatic Music Composer

In the nineteenth century, there was a generation of privileged women contributing to the traditional genres of Malayalam literature. Among them, Kuttykkunhu Thangkachi leads the list as the first dramatist and first-known female music composer from Kerala. While early historians may have tried to undermine her contributions as a capable homemaker and virtuous woman who managed to write poetry tolerable well, there is no denying her astonishing range of compositions in Carnatic music.

Read more at: https://www.sahapedia.org/kuttykkunhu-thangkachi-keralas-first-female-playwright-and-carnatic-musics-composer

The Sugar-Sweet Kiss: Lalitambika Antharjanam

[This is an excerpt from the translation included in the collection of her translated short stories On the Far Side of Memory, New Delhi, OUP, 2018]


Two little eyes opened, just a teeny bit. But shut tight again, as if the light jabbed them. He stretched, nice and slow. A moment at the line dividing sleep and wake. Sleep had bid goodbye. Wake had not yet arrived. Continue reading “The Sugar-Sweet Kiss: Lalitambika Antharjanam”

The First-Generation Feminists on Sex, Contraception, and Self-building

[This is an excerpt from my article titled ‘The Malayalee sexual revolution: Sex, ‘liberation’ and family planning in Keralam’, Contributions to Indian Sociology 39,3 , 2005.]

….  From the late 19th century, disapproval of artificial contraception was often linked to anxieties in Malayalee society about realising the ideal modern Self against older socio-economic and cultural orders.  In turn, the project of modern Self-building was seen to be dependent on attaining a high degree of self-discipline, expressed, in particular, in sexual self-restraint (Devika 1999). The idea that vigorous sexual desire was pathological, the conviction that sexual self-control was central to Self-building, and the fear that artificial contraception would open up a Pandora’s Box of sexual chaos, were notions that were frequently voiced in the Malayalee public sphere from the 1930s onwards when artificial contraception began to be discussed. Continue reading “The First-Generation Feminists on Sex, Contraception, and Self-building”

The Blue Seams of Writing – In Memory of Lalitha P Nair: K R Meera


Wife of ex Member of Parliament V P Nair’s wife and writer Lalitha P Nair (79) (Tilak Bhawan, Manakkara) passed away. A member of the Koyikonanth family, Thumbamon, Pandalam, her major published works were Lalithanjali, Ormakal Marikkunnilla, and Smrithimayukham. Sons: Dr Sasidharan, Dr Harikumar (both London), Vishwanathan Nair (Tilak Paints, Sasthamkotta). Daughters-in-law: Chandrika, Padmaja, Maheswari.

Just five lines — and a woman’s whole life is done — how easy. Someone’s wife, a writer of three books, the mother of three sons — that is all left behind when her life congeals. Her smiles and tears are not recorded. Continue reading “The Blue Seams of Writing – In Memory of Lalitha P Nair: K R Meera”

‘Malayali Marriage Modified’: K Padmavathy Amma

Translated by J Devika

[an earlier version of this appeared in my book Her-Self, published by Stree/Samya, Kolkata, 2005]

The damsels, they run, they hide,

 Seeing the man with beard all gray 1

In those days, it seems, shaving was not as common as it is now. If it had been common, then Sheelavati’s husband wouldn’t have been so aggrieved. Continue reading “‘Malayali Marriage Modified’: K Padmavathy Amma”