Dear Editor,
Highlighting the political exploitation and abuse of Mahadai Das, with horrific consequences, is not at all humiliating. In fact, it adds to her prosperity: despite having gone through all the pain, suffering, mental pain and debilitation, her poetry emitted pearls of perfection, her achievements intensifying and rising higher as a result.
Nowhere, in pointing out these horrific realities about her life, has her poetry ever been drawn down or diminished. In fact, if anything, the magnifying glass would actually send a lot of scouring for her poetry, to find out what kind of person could go through everything she had gone through and yet to produce the brilliance that resulted.
Besides, no individual is one-dimensional, one-tiered, without a uniform; and certainly not Mahadai Das. So to somehow insist that her poetry is all it really is, especially since then, as Ellie Williams-Brown and Shivani Sahaya note in writing about JK Rowling following her transphobic tweets, is not an author / a separate poet to be / created; his work reflects his global outlook.
And who can suspect that her horrific rape and terrible consequences have profoundly affected the worldview of Mahadai Das, who subsequently spent her life?
Therefore, it is important that their work is contextualised, so that their messages can be given meaning and clarity. Because, in the final analysis, the writing survives everything else, as Khalil Gibran so succinctly states:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, after a writ,
Move on: neither all your Gods or Wisdom
Will attract him back to cancel half Line,
Not all your Tears wash away a Word from him. ”
So, while feasting on the words that Mahadai Das left behind, we must do so with a clear grasp of how she had been shaped, and what had pushed her to create. And, in the final analysis, we would understand that this tragic girl from Guyana has suffered in our ubiquitous politics, which drives men to the most abominable and horrific acts; and that may have stymied her genius, if not cut her life short.

Annan Boodram

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