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It is like a deserted old playhouse having no life of its own. It has almost become non-functional and inert due to the disastrous physical-cum-mental strains. She has lost all her value as a woman in this life of confinement and suffocation. Both are in a state of neglect and have lost their functional value.
The image of mirror is very relevant because it faithfully mirrors the loneliness and anxieties of her face. It is an open protest against her egotistical husband who does not think beyond the gratification of his sensual desires. The female persona accuses her husband for domesticating her like a swallow after marriage in a well-planned manner.
He has intentionally done it so that she cannot only forget the fury of the winter and autumn seasons but also snap all her ties with the life before marriage. He has spared no efforts to make her forget her colourful past in which she enjoyed perfect freedom and distinct identity. He wants to make her forget her true nature as well as the very desire to move about freely in the infinite spaces of the sky. This first section of the poem points to the disastrous fate of the mismatched marriage.
Marriage is not an institution limited to the gratification of the sensual desires only. It is not a unilateral but a bilateral relationship based on mutual-trust and mutual understanding. There is no place for the exploitation and dehumanization of any partner in love.
In this second section, the woman is critical of her feeling less husband for shattering her romantic dreams of the married life. She has realized that she is merely an object of physical entertainment meant for satisfying the lustful desires of her husband only. She has lost all her identity as a woman and is systematically alienated from her happy and contented past life. The woman, in the poem, then explains the reason of marrying the man and the intention behind forming this relationship.
She had come to him not to be enlightened about him but to learn about her true self. She thought that the marriage would give her an opportunity for self-growth and self-discovery. But all her hopes were belied because of the egotistical nature of her husband.
She found highly selfish and self-centred who could not think beyond himself. In this third section of the poem, the woman had a very horrifying experience of the marital life. It marked the sudden end of the life of romantic aspirations and dreams. She was almost overpowered by the monstrous ego of her husband. She lost the very will to live in this hostile environment. She had also lost the chance of self-growth and self-discovery. She was treated like an object of sexual-gratification only.
Kamala Das always felt terrified by the dreadful ego of her husband. She was meant to please her self-conceited husband against her wishes to preserve this relationship. It is in this process of unnatural appeasement she had lost her al individuality and self-respect. She was almost reduced to a dwarf and lost all her will to think and act in an independent manner.
Being mentally disturbed, her responses and reactions were always illogical and inconsistent. She had lost all her identity as a dignified woman and felt totally dehumanized in this caged existence. She is denied all the needs of a woman for self-growth and self-discovery. She is neglected by her husband who treats her as an object for the satisfaction of his lust only. In this fourth section, the female persona has suffered both physically and mentally at the hands of her self-centred and selfish husband.
She has lost all her freedom, self —respect and identity as a woman and is reduced to the level of a dwarf. She has to work like a caretaker to satisfy his daily needs. She is almost crushed under his unchallenged monstrous ego. It was a period of winter in her life. For Kamala Das, life has come to a stand-still. All her romantic dreams of the marital life are shattered and she faces a complete vacuum in her life. There is no space for singing or dancing in her colourless and meaningless life.
Her life is like an old playhouse filled with impenetrable darkness. She is all fed up with the stereotyped and mechanical technique of love-making of her husband. He offers love in fatal dozes which will ultimately kill his wife. Dharmender is a writer by passion, and a lawyer by profession.
Dharmender is awesomely passionate about Indian and English literature, and continuously read poems of many different poets. Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. Read more.
The Old Playhouse by Kamala Das
You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her In the long summer of your love so that she would forget Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless Pathways of the sky. It was not to gather knowledge Of yet another man that I came to you but to learn What I was, and by learning, to learn to grow, but every Lesson you gave was about yourself. You were pleased With my body's response, its weather, its usual shallow Convulsions. You dribbled spittle into my mouth, you poured Yourself into every nook and cranny, you embalmed My poor lust with your bitter-sweet juices. You called me wife, I was taught to break saccharine into your tea and To offer at the right moment the vitamins. Cowering Beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and Became a dwarf.
The Old Playhouse
Back to: Kamala Das Poetry. The poem is not divided into stanzas. The Old Playhouse is also without any rhyme scheme. According to the poet, her husband has planned to domesticate a bird the poet by holding it in the fake love so that she may forget the seasons spring, summer, autumn or in other words the joys of her life and her home which she left behind her for him. Not only this, but he has also made her forget her nature, her desire to fly or freedom, and to explore the opportunities were also crushed.
The old playhouse and other poems / Kamala Das.