Monday, 3 September 2012

Meera – A poem by: Arun Kolatkar – Analysis

Meera is a very imagistic poem where one can almost see the actions of a young sweeper woman as she cleans the streets in the morning. The footloose coconut frond is a dropout much like the young woman but the coconut fond has the choice of dropping out from the top while she is forced due to economic circumstances to give up schooling.

The coconut frond had nothing to do and so while on the lookout for something more interesting and useful it decides to join the young lady and help her sweep. This is a contrast to her own feelings of the job where she aspires for life at the top for she is almost at the bottom rung of the social scale. The frond has befriended the lady which is rather interesting in itself considering her isolation and lack of friends. Kolatkar uses the metaphor “Our Lady of Dead Flowers” for her as she is probably sweeping dead flowers away though to a remote extent it does remind us of Christian divinity where the holy mother many a time is given such a name.

“the sad-eyed feminine half
of the municipal street-cleaning team
in this part of town.”
 
The young woman is not happy with her job and though she innovates and uses the frond for sweeping, she cannot derive as much pleasure from the job as the frond does. The only thing in her life that she has absolute control of is the frond.
However, in the second part of the poem there is a twist, she now has fun in being the person who takes some decisions and using the frond makes a boring job seem a bit fresher. The frond is more suited to her and is more fun to use as well as more effective. This in a way shows the breaking of gender barriers, she breaks through and uses her own sense to see what will be more comfortable to her. Just as the novel’s language was masculine and hard in the hands of the Bronte’s; and later became more pliable under Jane Austen’s pen; so the frond makeshift broom sits with more ease under her command.

The fan-tail broomstick is a masculine preference but she doesn’t want to deal with a set down tradition and through this discovers that her new broom is better than what her male counterpart is so content with. ‘Meera’ the name reminds us of the poetess Meerabai who just like this lady defied tradition and took to writing, singing and dancing though the society took had dictated a place for her.  
What is so fascinating about the poem is its simplicity of topic. Across India there are thousands of such women though not every one of them can be a Meera. To the eyes of her male companion, the sweeper woman with the frond may appear to be “clowning around” as much as the frond is doing when actually she is doing a better job. She is bending as she sweeps just as a woman or people who are oppressed must bend but even though she has stooped she is not been conquered.

Though the woman is sad and probably wishes to have a more better paid job, she is able to transform her work into a thing of joy at least momentarily and so she too is as innovative as any human being though circumstances have been harsher to her than to others.  

1 comment:

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