Anuradha Anand (47)
Director, online sales RMKV. Poet and painter.
I have painted and written poetry all my life. It was my way of dealing with the ups and downs of life. Whenever I am depressed, I have to put some colour on paper or seek refuge in words.
I got married when I was 20; into the RMKV Silks family and moved to Tirunelvelli. I had two children by the time I was 23.
Tirunelveli is the bedrock of Tamil literature. When I came to Tirunelveli as a new bride, I realised that the place was rife with literature, poetry, writers, poets and literary events. It was my kind of place. I lived in Tirunelveli until the death of my husband in 2010. Till then I hadn’t attended a single literary event or met writers or poets. I never stepped out into the world, so as to speak. Some people might say that I lived a protected and sheltered life. But that’s not the kind of ‘protection’ you want as an individual.
Though I continued to write poetry even after my marriage, I knew that it would always be a personal pursuit and that there would be no scope of publishing it or sharing it at literary events.
I would write in bits and pieces. I would write every day. I had filled many books. At some point in my life, I had destroyed many of these books.
Until the age of 24, I wrote poems in English – only. I grew up listening to my mother chant verses, and it was Tamil Bhakti literature. I must’ve imbibed it unconsciously because I began feeling a kinship towards Tamil and I began writing in it. Slowly, the Tamil language sounded more beautiful and authentic than English. And now I write only Tamil poetry.
Do you know there is no Tamil word for orgasm? Poets and writers of aeons have used ‘language’ to describe female sexuality. But there’s no vocabulary in Tamil to describe female sexuality. There are several words to describe male sexuality. I call it the gender politics of vocabulary. It reflects the mindset of people. Maybe they thought women shouldn’t have an orgasm. Or her sexuality is unimportant.
I returned to Chennai after my husband’s death. A friend of mine who read my poems felt it was “worthy of being published”. She encouraged me to send it to Kalki, a popular magazine. I did but didn’t hear back from them. After a year, the same friend asked me to resend the poems. This time the magazine published two of the three poems that I had sent. Two days after my father’s death. It was my dad who had always said that I should pursue my writing. He would’ve loved to see my poems published. But it didn’t happen. So that first milestone remains bittersweet.
When I see my name in print, I feel exhilarated to realise that somebody thinks that I am much more than just a good looking woman. I am more than my looks. I have a brain. I have an opinion on things. And a right to express me. All my life, people could never see past my looks. Until now.
I do have a day job as one of the directors of RMKV. I don’t have to go to work every day. But I want to. The sheer act of dressing up and going to the office and putting in five hours of work, however boring it might be, gives me a sense of purpose.
At 47, I experience a sense of freedom that is so valuable to me. I paint, write, attend literary events, speak in these forums, and I meet people with a literary bent of mind. Now, I feel I am living a life that I have always wanted to live. And I should have lived long ago.