Pointing out how Mahadai Das had been politically used and abused, with horrific consequences, is not reductionist at all. Actually, it adds to her lustre: that in spite of having gone through all the pain, suffering, agony and debilitation, her poetry emitted pearls of perfection, and her achievements intensify and rise higher as a result.
Nowhere, in pointing out these horrific realities about her life, is her poetry ever pulled down or diminished. In fact, if anything, the spotlight would actually send many scurrying for her poetry, to find out what manner of individual could go through all that she had gone through and yet produce the brilliance that had emanated from her.
Besides, no individual is one-dimensional, single-layered, unifaceted; and Mahadai Das certainly was not. Thus, to somehow insinuate that her poetry is all she is is the actual reductionism, especially since, as Ellie Williams-Brown and Shivani Sahaya pointed out in writing about JK Rowling following her transphobic tweets, an author/poet is not separate from his/her creation; his/her work reflects his/her worldview.
And who can doubt that Mahadai Das’s worldview had been significantly impacted by her horrific rape and its awful consequences, which consumed her life thereafter?
Thus, it is important that her work be given context, so that her messages can be provided with meaning and clarity. For, in the final analysis, it is the writing that survives everything else, as Khalil Gibran so succinctly points out:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
So, in feasting on the words 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 grasp that this tragic daughter of Guyana had been a victim of our all-consuming politics, which drives men to the most abominable and horrific acts; and that may well have stymied her genius, if not cut short her life.