August 18, 2019

Interpretation and critical appreciation of the poem “Another Woman” by Harinath Vemula


Interpretation and critical appreciation of the poem “Another Woman”
by Harinath Vemula

Another Woman (Imtiaz Dharkar)
This morning she bought green 'methi'
in the market, choosing the freshest bunch;
picked up a white radish,
imagined the crunch it would make
between her teeth, the sweet sharp taste,
then put it aside, thinking it
an extravagance, counted her coins
out carefully, tied them, a small bundle
into her sari at the waist;
came home, faced her mother-in-law's
dark looks, took
the leaves and chopped them,
her hands stained yellow from the juice;
cut an onion, fine and cooked
the whole thing in the pot
over the stove,
shielding her face from the heat.
The usual words came and beat
their wings against her: the money spent,
curses heaped upon her parents,
who had sent her out
to darken other people's doors.
She crouched, as usual, on the floor
beside the stove,
When the man came home
she did not look into his face
nor raise her head; but bent
her back a little more.
Nothing gave her the right
to speak.
She watched the flame hiss up
and beat against the cheap old pot,
a wing of brightness
against its blackened cheek.
This was the house she had been sent to,
the man she had been bound to,
the future she had been born into.
So when the kerosene was thrown
(just a moment of surprise,
A brilliant spark)
It was the only choice
that she had ever known.
Another torch, blazing in the dark.
Another woman.
We shield our faces from the heat.
Interpretation and critical appreciation of the poem “Another Woman”
by Harinath Vemula
           
            This is the poem that might have written in 80’s or 90’s. It was written by Imtiaz Dharkar, a famous poetess. She is a feminist. Usually poetry is written when the poet feels something, a thing, a person, an incident etc. Here the poetess might have felt sorry for the women being discriminated and harassed by in-laws and others at that time. But it is evident to day itself. Hence the poem reflects the hardships and discrimination that the women have been facing all the way.
           
            This poem depicts the scene of the woman life after marriage at in-law’s house. The reasons might be different for the torture she faced. In 19th and 20th century such incidents were common in the middle class families. Now the education might have given women a better life. But the gender discrimination and harassment on woman is an evident now a day too. But it has taken some other ways.

            Regarding the poem it is completed in few stanzas.

            This morning she bought green 'methi'
in the market, choosing the freshest bunch;

The first two lines of the poem talk about the selection of the freshest bunch of the green methi in the market. Here it is common that everyone love to buy fresh vegetable for meal. Sometimes it might be happened that to buy some stale or damaged vegetable. But here for this antagonist of the poem is to be more careful for her buying because she is to answer for what she bought.
picked up a white radish,
imagined the crunch it would make
between her teeth, the sweet sharp taste,
then put it aside, thinking it an extravagance,

Usually it is common to buy vegetable for the food to eat. You can recall that buying of carrot to eat raw. But in this poem the woman thought that it was an extravagance. She just imagined the crunch of the white radish and the sweet sharp taste when it is tasted. And she did not buy the radish. Here we have to think it over. Why did she think of extravagance? Is it really extravagance to buy a radish? Is the family of the woman too poor to buy a white radish? Is she worried of buying at her will? Did she have any financial right to buy it? Here I think she might have not gotten any financial freedom in her in-law’s home. She might have frightened for the consequences to face if she bought it. Hence she thought that it was an extravagance.

counted her coins
out carefully, tied them, a small bundle
into her sari at the waist;

            Do you consider the coins more worthy when you visit a market? No, we don’t worry about the coins we just put them in pocket casually. Why do you think she counted the coins carefully? Yes, she might have not got any financial freedom to do at her will. She might be responsible for every coin she brought and spent. Hence she would be afraid of losing anything and counted them carefully and placed them securely.

came home, faced her mother-in-law's
dark looks, took

            These lines reveal why she worried in the market and just imagined the taste and crunch of the white radish rather than buying it. The dark looks suggest that her mother in-law was angry, unfriendly and suspicion her daughter-in-law. The reason for this might be the less dowry she brought, illiteracy of the people, gender bias, ego of the people etc. Think of the other possible reasons for mother-in-law’s dark looks.

the leaves and chopped them,
her hands stained yellow from the juice;
cut an onion, fine and cooked
the whole thing in the pot
over the stove,
shielding her face from the heat.

            These lines tell us that she is quite skillful in cooking things. But naturally women are delicate physically than the men. Hence she’s shielding her face from the heat of the stove physically and the heat of the mental torture she’s facing.

The usual words came and beat
their wings against her: the money spent,
curses heaped upon her parents,
who had sent her out
to darken other people's doors.

            Why these usual? That reveals that it is a routine and regular thing that she has to face such humiliation everyday from her in-laws. The words that are scolding, criticism and curses are common for her. Why they beat their wings? The curses beat the heart and the soul of the woman and her parents as well.

She crouched, as usual, on the floor
beside the stove,
When the man came home
she did not look into his face
nor raise her head; but bent
her back a little more.
Nothing gave her the right
to speak.

            `Why is it as usual? Because it’s a common and regular thing that she crouches whenever she is humiliated behind the stove and feels herself never counter her in-laws. Generally women, married, will get energy when they are with husband but here he too unfriendly with her. Hence she bent her back little more when he enters the scene. Even she doesn’t speak as she has not got any right to do so.

She watched the flame hiss up
and beat against the cheap old pot,
a wing of brightness
against its blackened cheek.

            This stanza reveals that they are middle class family and stimulates the protagonist to think over her situation. The flame’s hiss up may be compared to the in-law’s unfriendly nature and the torture she faced and the cheap old pot is the woman herself.

This was the house she had been sent to,
the man she had been bound to,
the future she had been born into.

            This stanza tells that she is in deep thought on her situation. How she was sent to this house, the man she married to and the future she has to be. Now she is serious about her future.

So when the kerosene was thrown
(just a moment of surprise,
A brilliant spark)
It was the only choice
that she had ever known.

            This stanza is typically organized by the poetess. It deals with the ending life of the antagonist. The first line in this stanza is written in passive form without the doer of the action. Whether kerosene is thrown by in-laws or herself is not clear. Here the kerosene was thrown but we couldn’t find who did it. The poetess let the reader to interpret. If it is thrown herself why the word ‘surprise’ is used? If it is by in-laws, why ‘the only choice’ is used? It is to be imagined by the reader’s perception.

Another torch, blazing in the dark.
Another woman.
We shield our faces from the heat.

            This stanza concludes the poetry. It says that another woman is burnt to cinders in the dark. The phrase ‘in the dark’ tells that it is concealed and unknown to others for how it is happened. The phrase ‘Another Woman’ depicts that there happened the same for many women in the past and now one more and how many yet to be. But the people around shield themselves that they do know nothing about it even it’s happened after their house. We, the society, never feel guilt and ashamed of it.

            Typically this poem dealt with the hardships of the middle class women rights even not to speak. It is really a fantastic poem in the field of poetry in feminism. But there must be a different ending rather losing another woman. She has to give hope for the women to face the situation at least becoming a rival at the end I suppose.

            Thanks for reading.
                                                                        - Harinath Vemula for www.english143.in


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