Friday, November 7, 2014

A poet named Nanditha

Image courtesy: Google

Last month as I was in India shopping for books, I came to know about this poet called Nanditha. When I came to know more about her, I was intrigued. Nanditha K.S. (1969-1999) was a poet the world came to know about only after her death. Her life and death still remains a mystery to her family, friends and the world. 

Nanditha was a lecturer who was teaching students in a college in a small town in Kerala. The night she died, she had informed her mother that she would be getting a phone call. She had insisted that she would be attending it herself. However, her parents has no knowledge about whether this call came through. They never heard that telephone ring for which she waiting for. That night as her mother woke up sometime around midnight, she was shocked to find that her daughter had committed suicide by hanging herself from the terrace. Nanditha had committed suicide by hanging herself on the end of a saree. 

It is after her death that her parents found a series of poems that she had written down in her diaries. Absolutely beautiful and brilliant, her friends and family felt that it had to be published. I'm so glad that they took that decision and I got to read her collection of poems. Each one haunting and melancholic, reflecting the inner demons that were torturing the young poet. 

They spoke of love, pain, death, an unbearable sadness... Her life and death shall probably always remain a mystery. But you can't help but wonder, whom was she expecting that late night phone call from? What was the reason that finally drove her to end her own life? Never once had she taken any initiative to get any of her poems published when she was alive. Nobody knew of the poet that was alive in her. 

She wrote because that was the only way she could face her inner demons. That was probably the solace she sought for. Did death fascinate her as much as she wrote about? 

I'm not going to label this as a book review. I don't think it would be fair to the book or to the poet if I were to judge it. And so, that was how I read it. This was her life. Her fate that she decided for herself. My only sadness was that I couldn't read more of her poems. Written in both Malayalam and English, each poem written during certain periods of her life, right from 1985-1998, speaks volumes about the mind that it was born to. 

Quoting a few of my favorite poems by Nanditha here. This post would be incomplete without it. 

What is that crack on the face?
A burrow?
Rather a sneaky trench.
You call it a smile?!
I know 
That is amiability.
But why don't your eyes keep quiet?
Discipline them
Or they get out of control
Why not tear them out?
Throw them on the rocks
So that they would never sprout.
They are to die with this century.                                                                                  -1992

This is one of my favorites from the entire collection:

My mirror has gone made.
It throws weird images at me. 
In the past
It was sensible. 
Once an angel 
Once a witch
But always
One image at a time.
There are silent screams
Thrown at my feet
Like empty oyster shells.
Once I caught
A pretty wine glass
Before it caught my eye.
There were faded violets.
Today I was shocked.
It was an egg
Fidgeting in blood
Like a fish out of water.
I swear, It contracted
Like a heart.
Gory, terrifying
It spit out a sperm
And died.

An empty red plastic bag
I tremble...
Before I collapse
I throw my mad mirror 
Out through the window
Down to the streets.
I killed it.                                                                                                       - 18 August 1993

This book deserves a five star rating and no less. It is not simply another book, but a life. Do buy it and read if you can. My heart felt thanks to Fatima Chechi who had recommended this book to me. The words that Nanditha has written are bound to stay in your heart for a long, long time...

Edit- Since some of you wanted to know where you could buy a copy of the book, here is the link (I checked Amazon but unfortunately, it was not in stock) -


  1. This is such a strong poem!!thanks for sharing.I am definitely going to try and find a copy

    1. Thank you, Vidya! Do get a copy. You won't regret it.

  2. So sad to hear of this young poet's demise. I wonder if she may have suffered from a mental health disability, the demons that may have tormented her as her poems seem to allude to and if so, why she didn't receive the help she needed. <3

    1. Could be, Elly. I did a bit of background check on her and there are still a lot of mysteries around her life and death. It's sad that such a young and talented poet left us so early.

  3. Such strong words and so much pain it holds.

    I have never heard of her and I cannot read malayalam, but I shall look for her English poetry. Can you please mail me, as to where I can find it.

    1. Thank you, Soumya. I had not heard of her too until last month. I have updated the link on the post from where you can buy it online. Hope that helps.

    2. does this book have both English and Malayalam? i want both. can you tell me hw to get both?

  4. remember reading an article about her in manorama or mathrubhumi some tym back...true genius she was

    1. Yes, a few documentaries have been done as well when I searched youtube. Her poems are sheer brilliance.

  5. Haunting story and uncannily she predicted her own death in the first poem !

    1. Yes, that's a poem that haunts me even today. The malayalam poems are equally beautiful.

  6. Mysterious deaths have always intrigued me... like that of Amelia Earhart...
    Interesting yet sad :-/
    The poems are indeed beautiful :)

    1. Yes, the sad part is that perhaps they shall always remain a mystery. The ones that they have taken back to their grave. Thank you!

  7. God, this was sheer brilliance. So blunt, strong and heart-wrenching!

    1. You should read the book. You will LOVE it.

    2. Hi Aathira, is it the same book you posted above you are talking abt here? I want everything about her. Many years ago, i kept hearing that you can only buy her books in Calicut. There were not many articles about her online then.

  8. Mysterious death of a young poet. I bet the story of her life if unveiled will be far more intriguing than her poetry.

    1. Yes, her life is equally intriguing. I did some back ground check and there are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered.

  9. So much pain hidden it the verses... Is there an English version of this book? Where can I get it?

    1. Yes, the fascination with death is a recurring theme in her poems. The book is a collection of the poems she has written- both Malayalam and English. Unfortunately, the Malayalam ones are not translated. But do read the English ones there.

    2. Also, updated the link as to where you can buy it in the post. Hope you get it.

  10. Such deep, revolting's no wonder she killed herself.I can't even imagine how can anyone walk on earth under the burden of such pain. How can anyone muffle the scream. I want to scroll up and read it again and again. I wish I could meet her, share even slightest of her. This might have lightened up her heart.

    1. Yes, she has a lot of admirers after the book came out. It's intriguing that she kept her poems hidden from the world when she was alive and more heart wrenching to learn that such a talented life was cut short. I wish I could read more of her works.

  11. These are really awesome poems... Has so much depth...
    Very glad that you introduced her to us...
    I shall check for her poems too...

    1. Thank you, Satya. I felt that I had to share it here. This is one poet who is not well known or popular all over the world. But she should be. This post of mine is a tribute to her.

  12. endaiyirikum nanditayude prashnangal?

  13. Hi
    AAthira... this is so beautiful an has taken me to entirely next level .. but i feel so sad for Ms.Nanditha... I know its no point now...
    Love Pain Death ... is a choice that we get when we go blind ... but y do we go blind... one who has gone understand the pain and that pain makes you lonely .. then we move to death when we dont own our love ...

  14. She was a lecturer in English.... She married an auto driver she thought she was in love with


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