Dear Editor,
A few weeks ago, mention of the local name Mahadai Das may have provoked the most difficult tremor to recognize, if that is the case.
Suddenly, the name of Mahadai is everywhere. Those of us who have mourned for her apparent removal of our poetic canon may be tempted to celebrate; except it’s not her poetry that is obvious, it’s her life.
I cannot assume speaking for Mahadai Das. No one can. But, when we take part in public discourse, is it fair to reduce people (usually women) to one descriptor? When we label someone as mentally unstable, an alcoholic, or even a victim of sexual violence, are we not in danger of diminishing all other aspects of their lives; all their achievements?
To quote the spouse of someone who recently died from someone who died of alcoholism: “I don’t want it to be reduced to a word too narrow to tell you what you need to know.”
After years of neglecting to study her poetry, we are in danger of diminishing Das. Into the void of her absence, and in an attempt to restore her agency, let us listen to the words she left: “While the hammering arm is in rhythmic cheat flags,
My fine steel will grow. ”

Isabelle de Caires

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