Where the Light Gets In: In conversation with Ambai

The eve of International Women’s Day saw people gather at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in Delhi to celebrate the life and work of Dr C S Lakshmi, who writes under the pseudonym Ambai. The Tamil feminist writer and historian is the recipient of the Hutch-Crossword award, Pudumaipiththan memorial lifetime achievement award, the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award of Tamil Literary Garden and the Kalaignyar Mu Karunanidhi Porkizi award for fiction.

In conversation with editor and publisher Karthika VK, Ambai spoke fondly of her girlhood and her family. “I often slept with a book by my side, instead of a toy,” she says, fondly recollecting how her house was sprawling with hard-bound books. “There were only two ways to get out of the house — either by getting married or by pursuing higher education, and I chose the latter, of course,” she adds. Her father did not approve of her choice because he knew that once the bird eaves the nest, she’ll never come back home. “And he was right!,” exclaims Ambai, “I never looked back.” Read more