Small Scale Reflections of a Great House

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Small Scale Reflections of a Great House

By | October 2005
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Ramanujan's poem, ‘Small Scale Reflections on a Great House', with it's antithetical title is a catalogue of memories combining comedy and pathos while bringing out the truth that life is a journey comprising o joy, sorrow, success, failure, good times and bad times all stored in one's memories

The poem begins with the poet stating that the house retains everything that comes in. "Sometimes I think that nothing that ever comes into this house goes out." Trivial things that would come in would only "lose themselves among other things lost long ago among other things lost long ago." Giving the impression that the big house was filled with lost objects into which other lost objects would merge. A hint of irony is seem when the poet speaks of borrowed library books that were never read which are long over due and still remain in the house. He mentions little eggs that have been laid in ledgers by insects in the "old man's office room" where silverfish "breed dynasties among" succulent legal parchments dating back to the Victorian era which speaks of how old the house really us

The poet mentions servants, who went on to stay in the house for generations and whose children too did the same, the phonograph that was never sold as well hereditary diseases such as "epilepsies in the blood" that were passed on in each generation and never quite left the house. With tongue-in-cheek humour, the poet scoffs at "son in laws who forget their mothers" as they have become so comfortable in their wife's home and being inept, do petty tasks around the house like "check accounts or teach arithmetic to nieces."

The poet then mentions how other south Indian women would come to the house as wives to sons ‘from houses open on one side to rising sons on another to the setting," a characteristic feature of homes in southern India where women are "accustomed to wait and to yield to monsoons in the mountains' calendar." This draws up vivid imagery of typical a south Indian home where...

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