Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker (1954) is a poet-artist and documentary filmmaker. She is awarded with many prizes at national and international level. She is a renowned poet as well as a filmmaker. She scripts and direct films, many of them for non-government organizations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children.

Her poetry brings together a number of themes and issues of contemporary themes like exile, home freedom, displacement, communal tension and polities of gender. Here poet deals with various problems of women. But her focus is on the injustice, oppression and violence they are subjected to.

About the poem

Another Woman is a poem about social evil and it narrates a personal saga of victim lady. In a simple and sympathetic language, the poem details the inhuman treatment of society on women. Specifically, it deals with the evil of dowry.


Central Idea of the Poem


The purpose of poem is to raise awareness about the increasing number of ‘bride burning’ and dowry deaths, taking place in our society. It suggests that the women portrayed could be any women. The poet takes up a little incident in the life of a married woman of a middle-class family and through this little incident projects the fate of all women.


Another Woman: Short Summary


The poem starts with the protagonist buying ‘Methi’ in the market choosing the freshest bunch available. She wants to buy white radish but puts it back thinking it as an extravagance. She comes back to home and starts her daily work of cooking. Her mother-in law gives her dark looks and curses. The woman is unnamed who is representative of every oppressed woman in the society. She is busy in her work and she is silent.

The woman silently endures every inhuman treatment. Her husband comes and the woman is shown as bending more, looking downward to her work. Her husband is called as a strange man which shows the unhealthy relationship between them.

The woman is uncomplaining and going through the traumatic conditions in her life.While cooking she is shielding her face from the heat. The usual curses are shown like birds beating their wings against the woman. She did not look up to the man. ‘Nothing have her right to speak’

The only thing which is bright in the poem is flame of the stove.There was no choice given to the women and this woman is representative of all those.So, this was the house to which she had been send to.

At the end of the poem, the woman dies as the kerosene was thrown over her and her death is also not discussed which was the only choice made for her.The end is very suggestive where poet uses repetition figure of speech by the line ‘Another Woman’. The words suggest the repetitive deaths of women incurred due to inhuman treatment given to women.

Stanza Wise Explanation


This morning she brought green “methi”
in the market, choosing the freshest bunch;
picked up a white radish,
imagined the crunch it would make
between the 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;
come home, faced her mother-in-law’s
dark looks, took
the leaves and chopped them ,
her hands stained yellow from the juice;


Explanation– These lines capture the stark picture of a woman belonging to a traditional lower-middle-class Indian family. She went to market this morning and brought green Methi. She picked up white radish which she wanted to buy. She imagined the sweet-sharp taste of the crunch it would make between her teeth but put it aside thinking it an extravagance to spend money on that radish. She counted the left coins after paying for methi and tied them into a small bundle at the edge of her sari. When she came back, her mother-in-law looked at her angrily. The women showed no reaction at all and sat down silently to chop the methi leaves. Her hands got strained with yellow juice from the methi. While cooking over the stove, she had to keep facing the dark looks of her mother-in-law. She tried to shield her face from the heat of the stove.


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 the 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 hand; but bent
her back a little more.
Nothing gave her the right
to speak.


Explanation– The taunts and jabs of the mother-in-law has become an everyday affair of her life. Mother in Law accuses her of spending too much money wastefully. Mother in law keeps cursing her parents also. She says that they have sent their daughter to darken the lives of others. It is no wonder then that the birth of a girl child is dreaded in an Indian family. The women suffer not only at the hands of her mother in law but at the hands of her husband. While mother in law keeps abusing her every day. The husband remains indifferent to her sad state. She keeps sitting on her heels with her knees bend on closed to her body near the stove when her husband enters in the house from his work. She doesn’t even looks at his face or raises her head because she has no hope from him. She bends her back even more and keeps crouching as usual. She has not been given the right to speak even.


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.


Explanation– Using highly metaphorical language, the poet gives an image of women’s terrible tortured state. At the physical level, she is watching the flames of stove and beating against the cheap old pot. The flame of stove is beating her blacken cheeks. Metaphorically poet presents that her blacken chicks is the women youth and beauty that has been eaten by her husband whose is an offshoot of that very flame. The green methi seems to sing her simmering sighs. ”This is the house she had been sent to. This was the man she had been bound to. This was the future she had been born into. In this way poet projects the reality of Indian women.

READ ALSO:  Hymn to the Spirit of Nature: Summary, Analysis, Explanatory Notes and Questions

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 Women.
W e shield our faces from the heat.


Explanation– Here the poet continuous with her metaphor of the flame rising from the kerosene stove. At once there is there is a brilliant spark of fire. So also happens with a woman whose heart is already burning with the constant nagging of her in lose. She has been burned by her in lose. She realizes that her faith could never have been any different. It was the only choice that she had ever known. She was just another woman. It was in her fate to keep burning and remain surrounded by darkness. The poet says ’we shield our face from the heat’. In other words, the society remains unconcerned about the terrible fate of the uncomfortable woman.

Write the reference of following passage

1. 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.

Reference– These lines have been taken from the poem Another Women written by Imtiaz Dharker. In this poem, the poet shows the plight of women in Indian society. The poet takes up a little incident in the life of a married woman of a middle-class family and through this little incident projects the fate of all women.

Explanation– Using highly metaphorical language, the poet gives an image of women’s terrible tortured state. At the physical level, she is watching the flames of stove and beating against the cheap old pot. The flame of stove is beating her blacken cheeks. Metaphorically poet presents that her blacken chicks is the women youth and beauty that has been eaten by her husband whose is an offshoot of that very flame. The green methi seems to sing her simmering sighs. ”This is the house she had been sent to. This was the man she had been bound to. This was the future she had been born into. In this way poet projects the reality of Indian women.


2. 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 Women.

We shield our faces from the heat.


Reference– These lines have been taken from the poem Another Women written by Imtiaz Dharker. In this poem, the poet shows the plight of women in Indian society. The poet takes up a little incident in the life of a married woman of a middle-class family and through this little incident projects the fate of all women.

Explanation– Here the poet continuous with her metaphor of the flame rising from the kerosene stove. At once there is there is a brilliant spark of fire. So also happens with a woman whose heart is already burning with the constant nagging of her in lose. She has been burned by her in lose. She realizes that her faith could never have been any different. It was the only choice that she had ever known. She was just another woman. It was in her fate to keep burning and remain surrounded by darkness. The poet says ’we shield our face from the heat’. In other words, the society remains unconcerned about the terrible fate of the uncomfortable woman.

Key Points

• Metaphorical language is used by the poet to depict the pitiable state of women in Indian society.

• The poem shows patriarchal Indian society.

• The poet details inhuman manner in which women are treated in our society.

• The more pity is that the society remains unconcerned by the terrible fate of these unfortunate women.

Word Meanings

Extravagance – excessive spending

Curse– expression of anger

Crouch- to sit on one’s heels

• Dark looks- hostile looks

Hiss-up – burn with a sharp hissing sound

Q. What does the title Another Woman suggest?

Ans. The title ‘Another Woman’ suggests that there are so many women who are ending their lives because of the domestic violence. It suggests that one more woman has lost her life.

Q. What made the woman’s hand yellow in the poem another woman?
Ans. The poem starts off with the Protagonist buying her usual grocery for her family. She buys ‘methi’, choosing the freshest bunch available. She cut the ‘methi’ that she had bought and chopped them, turning her hands yellow in the process due to the juice.

Answer the following questions in 200-300 words

1. Comment on the issues related to gender oppression as analyzed in the poem.

Ans. Another woman is a poem about social evil and it narrates a personal saga of victim lady. In a simple and sympathetic language, the poem details the inhuman treatment of society on women.

Specifically, it deals with the evil of dowry.

The purpose of poem is to raise awareness about the increasing number of ‘bride burning’ and dowry deaths, taking place in our society. It suggests that the women portrayed could be any women. The poet takes up a little incident in the life of a married woman of a middle-class family and through this little incident projects the fate of all women.

This poem presents the stark picture of a woman belonging to a traditional lower-middle-class Indian family. She went to market this morning and brought green Methi. She picked up white radish which she wanted to buy. She imagined the sweet-sharp taste of the crunch it would make between her teeth but put it aside thinking it an extravagance to spend money on that radish. She counted the left coins after paying for methi and tied them into a small bundle at the edge of her sari. When she came back, her mother-in-law looked at her angrily. The women showed no reaction at all and sat down silently to chop the methi leaves. Her hands got strained with yellow juice from the methi. While cooking over the stove, she had to keep facing the dark looks of her mother-in-law. She tried to shield her face from the heat of the stove.

READ ALSO:  Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes Summary, Analysis and Solved Questions

Using a highly metaphorical language, the poet gives an image of women’s terrible tortured state. At the physical level, she is watching the flames of stove and beating against the cheap old pot. The flame of stove is beating her blacken cheeks. Metaphorically poet presents that her blacken chicks is the women youth and beauty that has been eaten by her husband whose is an offshoot of that very flame. The green methi seems to sing her simmering sighs. ”This is the house she had been sent to. This was the man she had been bound to. This was the future she had been born into. In this way poet projects the reality of Indian women.

2. ‘Gender oppression and politics is the central theme of the poem.’ Discuss.

Ans. In her poem Another Woman Dharker voices her humanistic and feministic concerns at the ever-increasing number of bride burnings and dowry deaths taking place in the country. Dowry is a social evil that has brought pain and misery to many families. Many lives have been lost because of this hideous monster that seems to have taken a permanent place in our culture. The youths of today have a greater role to play in extirpating this evil from our midst. A girl is not a commodity for sale and a boy is not a commodity to be acquired by the highest bidder.

Another Woman by Imtiaz Dharker gives expression to many such gender issues. According to her many Indian brides either burn themselves or are burned in the name of dowry. Statistics show that 80% of the bank loans availed by the poor in India are to meet the wedding costs and dowry demands. Another issue is malnutrition. For the woman in the poem even a white radish is an extravagance. She can only dream its crunch between her teeth and its sweet sharp taste. Then we see the issue of the rights of women. The woman in the poem does not even have the right to speak to her husband. She has no space of her own and she has to spend her time sitting in the kitchen amidst the heat and fumes. It is a shame that even in the 21st century, woman is just a commodity to be bought and sold in the marriage market and ill- treated at home. She gives a typical portrait of a woman in the kitchen:

……. Cut an onion, fine, and cooked

————————shielding her face from the heat. (Dharker: 14-18)

Imtiaz Dharker presents the submissive role of a wife who is always forced to watch the ‘flame hiss up and beat against the cheap old pot’. She presents the pathetic picture of a woman in her husband’s house.

Answer the following questions in a word/phrase/sentence –

Q. How does the poem bring out the fact that the woman is poor?
Ans. The woman buys only a bunch of methi to cook for her family.

Q. How is the woman in the poem insulted and humiliated by her in-laws?
Ans. The woman’s mother-in-law curses her parents for sending her out to darken their lives.

Q. Why does the poet say that ‘Nothing gave her the right to speak’?
Ans.The poor woman has to suffer silently and has no right to complain even.

Q. What do you think is the woman’s attitude towards her husband?
Ans. The woman has no hope of any support or sympathy from her husband.

Answer the following questions in 20-30 words each-

Q. ‘……shielding her face from the heat.’ Who is referred to in the line? What makes her feel uncomfortable?
Ans. The woman who is cooking methi over a kerosene stove is referred to in this line. The heat of the stove makes her uncomfortable. But more than that, it is the mother-in-law’s abusive taunts.

Q. How is the woman in the poem insulted and humiliated by her in-laws?
Ans. The woman’s mother-in-law accuses her of spending too much. She curses her parents for sending her out to darken the lives of other people. Her husband remains indifferent and shows no sympathy for her.

Q. Why do you think the woman in the poem is unable to find a space of her own?

Ans. The woman’s case is no exception. She is just another woman living in the same state as the other women in the society are living in. That is why she is unable to find a space of her own.

Q. Why do you think is the woman’s attitude towards her husband. Explain.
Ans.The woman has no hope of any support or sympathy from her husband. He is totally indifferent to what happens to her in the family.

Extra Questions

1. The woman thought of buying a white radish but later on decided against it thinking it an extravagance. Do you think it is an extravagance? Support your answer.

Ans: Usually buying a white radish is not an extravagance. But it is an extravagance for the woman in the poem. Firstly, her mother-in-law always rebukes her about their expenditure. Secondly, they are very poor. So the woman thought that it was an unnecessary expenditure.

2. What does the phrase ‘mother-in-law’s dark looks’ suggest?

Ans: The phrase, ‘mother-in-law’s dark looks’ suggests that she is angry with her daughter-in-law. She never treats her daughter-in-law with love and affection. She thinks that her daughter-in-law is her natural enemy.

3. “The usual words came and beat…..”(line 19). Where did the words come from? Why?

Ans: The words come from her mother-in-law. Mother-in-law scolds her saying she expends extra money. She also blames daughter-in-law’s parents. Her abusive words beat the young women. Yet she suffers in silence.

4. Why did the woman crouch on the floor? (line 24)

Ans: The woman crouches on the floor. That reflects her modesty. It also shows her obedience and submissive nature. She also tries to convey to her mother-in-law her position in that home.

5. Why do you think the woman bent her back a little more when her husband came home? Was her husband helpful? Support your answer quoting from the poem.

Ans: The woman bent her back a little more when her husband came home. This shows he was not supportive to her. He was not concerned about her feelings. He listened to his mother’s harsh words. Yet he didn’t say a single word. So she did not have faith in him.

READ ALSO:  The Solitary Reaper: Summary, Analysis and Question Answers

6. What does the phrase ‘as usual’ suggest?

Ans: The phrase ‘as usual’ suggests that the mother-in-law’s scolding her is common. It is not new and there is no hope to change it.

7. The last line of the first stanza talks about the woman shielding her face from heat whereas the last line of the poem talks about people shielding their face from the heat. How are they different?

Ans: In the first stanza, the woman shielding is her face from heat. She tries to protect herself from the heat of the stove. The last line of the poem suggests that the people are turning their faces away from the harsh realities of our society. Though the people know about the sufferings being faced by the women, no one dare to come forward to act against it.

8. “So when the kerosene was thrown…..” Who threw the kerosene? Why? Support your answer quoting from the poem.

Ans: It was the woman herself who threw kerosene. She suffered a lot in her mother-in-law’s home. She was in complete despair and had no hope of relief. She had one and only one choice. That was ending her life. So she burnt herself.

9. What does the title suggest?

Ans: The title ‘Another Woman’ suggests that the women is only one of many women who suffer. It shows that the problem is much larger.It is common problem in the society .The woman in the poem is a typical example of the women who are imposed to the domestic violence.

10. Words do not have wings, but the author used them as if they had wings (…..the usual words came and beat their wings against…..) This is a literary device called personification. Find out the other instances of personification in the poem.

Ans: The poem has some examples of personification. They are: She watched the flames hiss up and beat against the cheek of the old pot. Here flames are lifeless. Yet they ‘hiss’ like a living being. Similarly ‘the pot’ is personified as having a cheek. And in ‘a wing of brightness’, brightness is personified as having a wing.

Long Answer Questions

Q. Discuss how ‘Another Woman’ is about social evil and personal traumas.
Ans. Another Woman by Imtiaz Dharker gives expression to many such gender issues. According to her many Indian brides either burn themselves or are burned in the name of dowry. Statistics show that 80% of the bank loans availed by the poor in India are to meet the wedding costs and dowry demands. Another issue is malnutrition. For the woman in the poem even a white radish is an extravagance. She can only dream its crunch between her teeth and its sweet sharp taste. Then we see the issue of the rights of women. The woman in the poem does not even have the right to speak to her husband. She has no space of her own and she has to spend her time sitting in the kitchen amidst the heat and fumes. It is a shame that even in the 21st century, woman is just a commodity to be bought and sold in the marriage market and ill- treated at home. She gives a typical portrait of a woman in the kitchen:

……. Cut an onion, fine, and cooked

—————————
shielding her face from the heat. (Dharker: 14-18)

Q. Describe the suffering of women as depicted in ‘Another Woman’.
Ans. The woman in the poem does not even have the right to speak to her husband. She has no space of her own and she has to spend her time sitting in the kitchen amidst the heat and fumes.

Q. Discuss the end of the poem Another Woman.
Ans. At the end of the poem, the woman dies as the kerosene was thrown over her and her death is also not discussed which was the only choice made for her. The end is very suggestive where the poet uses repetition figure of speech by the line ‘Another Woman’. The words suggest the repetitive deaths of women incurred due to inhuman treatment given to women.

In her poem, Another Woman Dharker voices her humanistic and feministic concerns at the ever-increasing number of bride burnings and dowry deaths taking place in the country. Dowry is a social evil that has brought pain and misery to many families. Many lives have been lost because of this hideous monster that seems to have taken a permanent place in our culture. The youths of today have a greater role to play in extirpating this evil from our midst. A girl is not a commodity for sale and a boy is not a commodity to be acquired by the highest bidder.

Theme of the poem

Another Woman by Imtiaz Dharker gives expression to many such gender issues. According to her many Indian brides either burn themselves or are burned in the name of dowry. Statistics show that 80% of the bank loans availed by the poor in India are to meet the wedding costs and dowry demands. Another issue is malnutrition. For the woman in the poem, even a white radish is an extravagance. She can only dream its crunch between her teeth and its sweet-sharp taste. Then we see the issue of the rights of women. The woman in the poem does not even have the right to speak to her husband. She has no space of her own and she has to spend her time sitting in the kitchen amidst the heat and fumes. It is a shame that even in the 21st century, woman is just a commodity to be bought and sold in the marriage market and ill-treated at home. She gives a typical portrait of a woman in the kitchen:

……. Cut an onion, fine, and cooked

—————————
shielding her face from the heat. (Dharker: 14-18)

Imtiaz Dharker presents the submissive role of a wife who is always forced to watch the ‘flame hiss up and beat against the cheap old pot’. She presents the pathetic picture of a woman in her husband’s house:

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter

x
%d bloggers like this: