Ambai is the pen-name of the Tamil writer C.S. Lakshmi (1944–). Her grandmother and her mother, a musician, were important influences on Ambai in early life. Ambai herself has been a musician as well as an academic. Her works include Siragugal Muriyum or Wings Get Broken (1976), a collection of short stories, The Face behind the Mask (1984), a study ofwomen writers in Tamil, and The Singer and the Song: Conversations with Women Musicians (2000), apart from many contributions to literary journals.
About her early writing in her teenage years, Ambai says: ‘Most of my initial stories had very rigid and orthodox views of sexuality, femininity, and life in general. The widows in my stories, after a speech full of symbolic metaphors, ...