Neypayasam: A Heartbreaking Short Story by Kamala Suraiyya Das
Neypayasam is a Malayalam short story written by Kamala Suraiyya Das, also known as Madhavikutty, one of the most celebrated writers in India. The story was published in 1991 and has been translated into English as \"Sweet Milk\". It is a poignant tale of a family coping with the loss of a mother and wife, and the emotional impact of her last dish, neypayasam, a sweet rice pudding.
The story begins with the father returning home from the cremation ground with his two children, a boy and a girl. He finds a pot of neypayasam on the stove, which his wife had prepared before she died of a sudden heart attack. He decides to serve it to his children as a tribute to their mother, but they refuse to eat it, saying it is too sweet and they are not hungry. The father tries to persuade them, telling them that their mother loved them very much and made the dish with great care. He also tells them that neypayasam is a special dish that is offered to the gods and ancestors on auspicious occasions.
However, the children remain adamant and run away to their room. The father feels hurt and angry, and thinks that they are ungrateful and insensitive. He decides to eat the neypayasam himself, hoping to feel some connection with his wife. As he tastes the dish, he realizes that it is indeed too sweet and has a bitter aftertaste. He wonders if his wife had added too much sugar or if the milk had turned sour. He also wonders if she had known that she was going to die and had made the dish as a farewell gesture.
He feels a surge of grief and guilt, and regrets that he had not paid enough attention to his wife when she was alive. He remembers how she had always been busy with household chores and taking care of the children, while he had been absorbed in his work and hobbies. He remembers how he had often ignored her complaints and requests, and how he had taken her for granted. He realizes that he had never really understood or appreciated her, and that he had failed to make her happy.
He breaks down and cries, holding the pot of neypayasam in his lap. He calls out to his wife, asking her to forgive him and come back to him. He hears his children crying in their room, and realizes that they are also missing their mother. He gets up and goes to them, hugging them and apologizing for being harsh. He tells them that they should eat the neypayasam together, as it is their mother's last gift to them. He says that they should remember her with love and gratitude, and that they should stick together as a family.
The story ends with the father and the children eating the neypayasam from the same pot, sharing their memories and feelings about their mother. They find comfort and solace in each other's company, and hope for a better future.
Kamala Suraiyya Das was a prolific and versatile writer who experimented with different genres and forms. She wrote novels, short stories, essays, memoirs, travelogues, and children's books in both English and Malayalam. She also wrote a play, The Sandal Trees (1995), and co-edited an anthology of Indian women's writing, The Indian Woman (1977). She was one of the first Indian women writers to express her views on feminism, sexuality, religion, and culture with honesty and courage.
Kamala Suraiyya Das received many awards and honours for her literary contributions. She won the Sahitya Akademi Award for her collection of short stories in Malayalam, Collected Short Stories (1984). She also received the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for her memoir Balyakalasmaranakal (1987) and the Vayalar Award for her novel Neermathalam Pootha Kalam (1996). She was conferred the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, the highest literary honour of the Kerala government, in 2009. She was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984.
Kamala Suraiyya Das was a controversial figure who faced criticism and opposition from various quarters for her unconventional lifestyle and opinions. She converted to Islam in 1999 at the age of 65, adopting the name Kamala Surayya. She said that she was drawn to Islam because of its message of love and peace. She also said that she wanted to study the Quran and learn Arabic. However, her conversion sparked outrage among some Hindu groups and some of her relatives, who accused her of betraying her culture and faith. She also faced hostility from some Muslim groups, who questioned her sincerity and authenticity. 061ffe29dd