“Still another for Mother”

The poem “Still another for Mother” comments on how the memories of past time cause restlessness, and how their existence is inevitable in human life. By using the private world of experiences, especially the inner world of memories, Ramanujan explores the dimensions of human relationships. The poem depicts an event that took place at Hyde Park. The poet finds that even the casual events have the potential to cause disturbance to the human mind. He states:

And that woman
beside the wreckage van
on Hyde Park street: she will not let me rest
as I slowly cease to be the town’s brown stranger and guest.

The word ‘slowly’ suggests that after much trouble and struggle, his Indian identity as ‘town’s brown stranger and guest’ has been accepted by the natives. Slowly he has ceased to be a foreigner. However, very soon the poet realizes that what he thought was the deceptive reality. He is not mentally settled in the foreign land. The sight of the woman reminds him of his mother.

He sees the buxom, large woman and handsome, short – limbed man who have perhaps fought with each other. He is not sure about it, but he can speculate it from their appearance. The poet knows that the man’s straight walk away from a woman, his proceeding forward without a pause even at signal, woman’s fumbling at keys, her despair, all these events hurt him. He can’t ignore them easily though he attempts to walk on as if ‘nothing has happened’. The events make him aware of his own case, where he had left his own land and mother, and came to live in a foreign land. His memory peeps into the past and he expresses:

Something opened

in the past and I heard something shut

in the future, quietly,

like the heavy door

of my mother’s black – pillared, nineteenth – century

silent house, given on her marriage day

to my father, for a dowry.

He becomes restless by the knowledge that the same feeling of rejection and despair must have been shared by his mother when he left the house. The awareness of this feeling brings discomfiture to his otherwise quiet stay in the foreign land.

In this way, both the poems, namely, “Snake” and “Still another for Mother” reveal Ramanujan’s intense personal world engrossed in his native past. It confirms Ramanujan’s view that “The past never passes. Either the individual past or historical past or cultural past. It is with us…”

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