She spent her childhood between Culcutta where her father was employed and Nalappatt ancestral home at Ponnayoorkulam in south Malabar. Her formal education stopped at the age of 15 when she was married to K. Madhava Das She was 16 when her first son was born and she said once "I was mature enough to be a mother only when my third child was born". Her husband often played a fatherly role for both Das and her sons. Because of the great age difference between Kamala and her husband, he often encouraged her to associate with people of her own age.
Like her mother, Kamala Das also excelled in writing. Her love of poetry began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalappatt Narayan Menon, a prominent writer. However, she did not start writing professionally till she was married and became a mother. When Das wished to begin writing, her husband supported her decision to augment the family's income. Being housewife, she could not use the morning-till-night schedule enjoyed by her great uncle. She would wait until nightfall after her family had gone to sleep and would write until morning: "There was only the kitchen table where I would cut vegetables, and after all the plates and things were cleared, I would sit there and start typing" (Warrior interview). This rigorous schedule took its toll upon her health, but she views her illness optimistically. It gave her more time at home, and thus, more time to write.
She is famous for her many Malayalamshort stories as well as several poems written in English. The Keralite is recognized as one of the foremost poetess of India She is also a Syndicated Columnmist She has moved away from poetry because she claims that "poetry does not sell in this country [India]," but fortunately her forthright columns do. Her columns sound off on everything from women's issues and child care to politics.
Writing in English
Her first book, Summer In Calcutta was a promising start. She wrote chiefly of love, its betrayal, and the consequent anguish, and Indian readers in 1965 responded sympathetically to her guileless, guiltless frankness with regard to sexual matters. Ms. Das abandoned the certainties offered by an archaic, and somewhat sterile, aestheticism for an independence of mind and body at a time when Indian women poets were still expected to write about teenage girlie fantasies of eternal, bloodless, unrequited love.
Musing of a lonely heart is a common theme in her poems. It seeks love with never ending passion. Lust, greed and hunger never satiate and finally the mind becomes an old playhouse with all its light put out. For Das, poetry (or love?) is ?The April sun squeezed like an orange juice?, the heat permeates into the reader?s mind. When she is moving to a new city, ?Sadness becomes a silent stone in the river?s unmoving core?. She bid farewell to ?the shadows behind the windowpane, the rain, the yellow moon, the crowd and the sea?. This sensitivity is the strength of her poetry.
At 42, she published My Story, baring the secrets of her heart. It creates lot of interest and controversies though not for any literary value. The book was translated into several foreign languages (more than 15). Feminists across the world hailed it as a bold step in the patriarchal society