Department of English
University of Rajasthan
S. Lakshmi is an Indian writer who is widely known for her short stories in Tamil. She writes under the pseudonym Ambai. Born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu in 1944, Ambai calls herself a “feminist who has lived without compromise.’ Apart from feminist fiction, the Tamil author has been carrying out research in the field of women’s studies. Her brand of feminism has earned her recognition in literary circles in both India and abroad. Her important research projects include Illustrated Social History of Women in Tamil Nadu and An Idiom of Silence: An Oral History and Pictoral Study. The resulting research has been published as two volumes of theSeven seas & Seven mountainsseries. The first volume, The Singer and the Song (2000), is a collection of interviews with women musicians and the second volume, Mirrors and Gestures (2003), is a collection of interviews with women dancers. Her popular fictional works include A Purple Sea (1992) and In A Forest, A Deer (2006). Lakshmi Holmstrom has translated some of her works into English.
Ambai’s works articulate the experience of women in a colloquial language using multiple narratives. She shows her characters negotiating with the external world to seek freedom of mind and spirit. She demonstrates how patriarchal forces are present even in their absence and exercise an invisible control over the minds of women in the families. She also highlights how freedom cannot be sought by rebellion but by gradually dismantling the confining structures.
A Reading of Ambai’s A Kitchen in the Corner of the House