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An Old Woman - Arun Kolatkar

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The poem is highly symbolic and very common placed in it's subject matter. The poet was impressed by the temple of Kandoba at Jajori and the poem is thus against this setting. "An Old Woman" is a graphic picture of a beggar woman. Having lost the promises of her past, she is reduced to her present state. As the speaker views her squarely, he, in a sort of 'revelation', becomes aware of the decay which has set in her person and which is extended to the decaying tradition symbolized by the hills and the temples.

Without using many words, the old woman forces the narrator to look at her from closed quarters. It is then that he realizes the hypocrisy of society and the decadence of the social system that has ruined the old woman to a beggar. he finds that the social fabric is destroyed, architectural features go into ruins. Human values are forgotten. The old woman's condition reduces the narrator to a small status when he feels as insignificant as that small coin in her hand.

This poem humbles us to remember our responsibility to society. It reveals the callousness, a failure on our part to take care of the elderly, protect our heritage and preserve our values. In the rush of materialism and the desire to achieve, one takes all that one can from society, but giving the same back is largely forgotten. So the cracking hills, crumbling temples, crumbling of social order is directly a result of our negligence, our failure to act responsibly. Somewhere, the materialistic world has made man selfish, trapping him in a race to accumulate. When society has to face this onslaught, cracks appear, but selfish man forgets to repair the cracks, forgets to salvage lost values, thereby creating a dilapidated social fabric.



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