In Love by Kamala Das


In the poem “In Love”, Kamala Das shares the sexual experience of a woman. She begins the poem by referring to the sun and the atmosphere. The sky on which the sun burns reminds her about her lover. She says that his mouth and pale limbs are approaching her as a carnivorous plant with unending sexual desire. In the room or anywhere he reaches her in his need for his love; i.e to make love to her. He does not embrace her as a complete thing. She describes their meeting as a mechanical one. He neglects her feelings whenever they are meeting. She is silent while he enjoys her as a triumphant. At noontime, she is used to watch the crows flying like they are carrying poison in their wings. At night she listens to the sounds of the corpse carriers calling ‘Bol Hari Bol’. She loses her sleep and she walks through the veranda at night sleepless. Millions of questions come to her mind at that time. All the questions are about him. She never can call his presence love since he is a ‘skin-communicated thing’ for her. She finds that he is a person whose actions are merely based on lust.

Conceptual Vocabulary

Carnivorous plant:  a plant which feeds upon insects by trapping them

Lust:  sexual desire

Jigsaw:   a mechanical saw

Moody:  gloomy

Gaiety: enjoyment

Sleek: shining

Corpse:  dead body

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Lacing:  decoration

Skin-communicated thing: lust

Short answer questions

1. When does she remember him?
Ans: Whenever she sees the sky on which the sun is burning she thinks about him and his features.

2. Explain the figure of speech in ‘carnivorous plant’.
Ans: With a beautiful simile, Kamala Das explains the attitude of her lover towards her. The limbs of her lover are compared to the carnivorous plants reaching out for her.

3. ‘I lie, ignoring my poor/ Moody mind’ Explain.
Ans: Kamala Das suggests that though the lover is in his high spirits, she is plunged into gloom. For him, it is enjoyment, but she never enjoys it.

4. How does the poet evaluate her lover?
Ans: She describes her lover as a person whose feeling cannot be called love. He is a person who can find pleasure related to lust.

Paragraph questions

1. Discuss the theme of In Love.
Ans: The poem In Love revolves around carnal love. Kamala Das describes her lover who fails to show love but only seeks sexual gratification out of her. She compares his appearance to a burning sun. The burning sun reminds her about him. She also is a person who indulges in sexual activity without any love towards the person. He approaches her to quench his desire. He never finds time to spend with her and does not share his feelings with her. She is left alone in the city life where she gets the company of the sounds of the crows and the corpse carriers. She spends sleepless nights in the veranda. From the beginning to the end of the poem, the poet speaks about the lack of love in her life. She describes love as a skin-communicated thing in their life.

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2. The diction and images in In Love.
Ans: Like the other poems of Kamala Das, In love too uses a lot of similes, metaphors and images. Without any musical effect, she arranges the poem in the manner of prose. She effectively arranges the words to bring the ideas in the correct sequence. At the beginning of the poem, she brings the image of the burning sun which mentions the nature of her lover. She uses the simile of the carnivorous plant to show how much desire her lover shows towards her. She compares the limbs of her lover to the carnivorous plant which shows the same nature. The description of his embrace with a finished jigsaw is a metaphorical usage. The sound created by her lover is compared with trumpets since it shows his victory over her. She again uses simile when she portrays the crows as they are carrying poison in their wings. The most brilliant use of diction appears towards the end of the poem when she states his love merely as a skin communicated thing.

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