“Father Returning Home” -by Dilip Chitre

My father travels on the late evening train
Standing among silent commuters in the yellow light
Suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes
His shirt and pants are soggy and his black raincoat
Stained with mud and his bag stuffed with books
Is falling apart. His eyes dimmed by age
fade homeward through the humid monsoon night.
Now I can see him getting off the train
Like a word dropped from a long sentence.
He hurries across the length of the grey platform,
Crosses the railway line, enters the lane,
His chappals are sticky with mud, but he hurries onward.

Home again, I see him drinking weak tea,
Eating a stale chapati, reading a book.
He goes into the toilet to contemplate
Man’s estrangement from a man-made world.
Coming out he trembles at the sink,
The cold water running over his brown hands,
A few droplets cling to the greying hairs on his wrists.
His sullen children have often refused to share
Jokes and secrets with him. He will now go to sleep
Listening to the static on the radio, dreaming
Of his ancestors and grandchildren, thinking
Of nomads entering a subcontinent through a narrow pass.

The poem speaks about the inner loneliness of the poet’s father, the utter alienation he is experiencing in the twilight years (man’s estrangement from a man-made world) as he ceases to matter to his children who no longer share anything with him. All the while he is trying to evoke, through the racial conscious, the invisible connection with his ancestors who had entered the sub-continent through the Khyber Pass in the Himalayas in some distant past (the allusion is perhaps to the migration of the Aryans to the Indian subcontinent from Central Asia). The poet uses some fine imagery to describe the pain and misery lurking in the old man’s soul as he travels in the local train .His bag stuffed with books is falling apart refers to the state of the old man’s mind which has turned senile after all that knowledge it has acquired through years of dedicated study.

A wonderful image is used to describe his getting down from the train: Like a word dropped from a long sentence .The uniqueness of the image lies in the highly evocative visual picture of an old man dropping off from the train as though he is no longer relevant to the train which will now move forward with other people to their destinations .The old man is just a word in the syntax of life. The sentence that is long enough to carry several words forward each contributing to its overall meaning now drops off one stray word, which is no longer required.

The other interesting image is the eyes and vision, which occurs in the poem again and again. The suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes is a pretty image. The second one is his eyes dimmed by age fade homeward.

Above all we may look at the dexterous use of words to convey the “twilight” atmosphere in the poem : evening train, yellow light, unseeing eyes , his eyes dimmed by age fade homeward ,gray platform.

26 comments on ““Father Returning Home” -by Dilip Chitre

  1. manjit says:

    this is one of my favorite poems. i liked the silence in the verses which is created by simple words. the poet’s father is the principle character which binds us to think about grave digging process of common man. use of hindi words are possesive.

  2. nisheedhi says:

    Thanks ,Manjit for the comments.

  3. Nisara says:

    I love this poem…………….very intresting……

  4. […] “Father Returning Home” -by Dilip Chitre […]

  5. Vishal says:

    Artistically touching poem!

  6. surekha gurupad Mandi says:

    sir i am doing m. phil. My research is on dilip chitrei have taken his collection “Travelling in a cage” for research if u have any material on his ciy poems pls send me on my email my subject name is cityscape in the poetry of nissim ezekiel dilip chitre and manohar shetty

  7. sanjupardeshi says:

    Its a poem which tells the feeling of lonliness in crowded city

  8. It deals harsh reality of life

  9. channappa katti says:

    really a heart rending poem about a common man in a cosmopolitan city where men like him are estanged from a man made world in which his own sons and daughters treat him as an alien. the poem narrates the epic tragedy of a middleclass man who looks like a word dropped a long sentence.

  10. channappa katti says:

    thank you

  11. nisheedhi says:

    @channappa katti :thanks for your comments

  12. ammu says:

    characteristically,this poem is totally devoid of sentimentality despite its tender subject.

  13. nisheedhi says:

    @ammu: True.There is no place for sentimentality in a poet’s vision

  14. This poem actually leaves a lump in your throat.

  15. it is a heart full reading poem which tells about our grand parents

  16. nisheedhi says:

    Yes,Vishnu.Thanks for the comment

  17. Sonu Kumar says:

    plzz give me this poem on hindi language

  18. […] I’m going to look at this from my perspective, which I think is a rather positive interpretation of the poem and the life of the father. However, if you’d like to read a concise take on the other interpretation I mentioned, try here. […]

  19. Father Returning Home by Dilip Chithre analysed by shanika paul
    The poet addresses a true life situation of the lack of attention, at times respect and love that the elders of society are engulfed in. In the poem “Father returning home” a typical ;working, aged father is seen as he journeys back home from workman’s estrangement from a man-made world
    In the first stanza one notes the typical silence that envelopes the exhausted” travelers Standing among silent commuters in the yellow light Suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes” Even though he the father has nothing much to look forward to when he reaches home ;yet the connoted atmosphere which home may have first represented lingers as he loks forward to his journey home “His eyes dimmed by age fade homeward through the humid monsoon night…”
    Dillip creates a strong sense of imagery with the words ”now I can see him” as if though the action is witnessed by him thus enabling the reader to create such an evocative visual “ The well worded line Like a word dropped from a long sentence .as if though him getting off has no relevance to anyone.
    The poet adopts the colour grey to indicate loneliness and age “He hurries across the length of the grey platform,’ He rushes home even though his chapals are muddy .
    In the second stanza the poet takes us to see the persona in his home yet treated shabbily “Home again, I see him drinking weak tea, Eating a stale chapati, reading a book” He doesn’t seem to complain but maybe misses the company of family since no one seems to give year to what he has to say.. “He goes into the toilet to contemplate” a typical place where he is left to think of the isolation he is imprisoned in his age is seen further as Coming out he trembles at the sink, The cold water running over his brown hands,” and then a typical day ends with him going to sleep thinking Of his ancestors and grandchildren, thinking Of nomads entering a subcontinent through a narrow pass.”

    Copy rights : Teacher Shanika Paul
    • U/graduate BA English(OUSL),ADIE(UK),ACIE(OUSL),DIP;AMI/PSY(CAMBRIDGE)Trained Teacher(IMSD)
    .

  20. nisheedhi says:

    Thanks for your fine analysis

  21. styleinwords says:

    Father Returning Home is a heart touching poem which actually connects to people living in fast life high end cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai. It is poem where we see the sacrifice of an aged working father that although allows him to fulfill his duty as the provider of the family but steals away his joy of enjoying a family life. This poem shows how the mundane life of a man working in a crowded city has left him lonely…

  22. nisheedhi says:

    Thanks for your nice comment

  23. […] I’m going to look at this from my perspective, which I think is a rather positive interpretation of the poem and the life of the father. However, if you’d like to read a concise take on the other interpretation I mentioned, try here. […]

  24. Very well analyzed. Thank you so much for sharing this. Helped me a lot!

  25. Bijay Kant Dubey says:

    Father Returning Home by Dilip Chitre is in the form of a memoir, a reflection, an image, an idea; a remembrance, a recollection, a memory; a picture, an anecdote, a penetration ever green, ever fresh, so lively, so picturesque that the images and ideas of his conjure up naturally on the mind’s plane haunting down the memory lanes. Written as an introspection made or done over, the poem is a picture of a father returning home from the town or the city just like a pedestrian. This is his life. This is his routine. Just as a commuter he goes and keeps commuting, leaving for in the morning and returning back by late trains one among the commuters in the train compartments lit by yellowish lights burning dimly.
    This is his daily affair, to come and go and barring it, what there? The humdrum and monotony of living, living in a city, going to for bread and butter, this is the scene of modern day society as we cannot without it too. What time has he got to share? What bonding to strike with? What about the emotional sharing between father and son? Boarding the train returns he, boarding the train goes he to the workplace to earn a living, to maintain the family. And a commuter, a daily comer and goer, he too by his schedule, time clock hurrying down to maintain it, sometimes on time, sometimes late all through the year. Sometimes the train delayed and postponed and that is rarely, off and on. But the monsoon time with the imagery of own.
    The poem as it is refreshes the memory of our father and the poem has the quality what it is there in W.H.Auden’s The Unknown Citizen. Really, Dilip Chitre is adept in commonplace pictures and images as Ezra Pound reflects in the platform scenery. Just through simple statements he places before us the whole poetic truths. A daily passenger has a different life to tell, different experiences to share and his life spends as thus in coming and going which none but a daily passenger can only tell. But he has to go, go for his commitment, for his job, duty and assignment leaving his family and the requirements and expectations of job places the house members know it what pains does it give to in addition to sweetest memories and passing of time too.

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