An Old Woman

Topics: Sociology, Temple, Ageing Pages: 2 (744 words) Published: February 28, 2014
Arun Kolatkar

THE SUMMARY: The poem begins with the introduction of an old woman grabbing at the protagonist’s shirt sleeve and tagging along with him. She asks him for a 50 paise coin and in return agrees to show him the Horseshoe shrine. The protagonist has already seen the shrine. The protagonist narrates his experience of visiting a sacred pilgrim spot at Jejuri and vividly describes his encounter with an old woman. The old woman is instrumental in enabling Arun Kolatkar bringing out graphically the decay of our customs and traditions in today’s jet set world.

Even though the protagonist tells the old woman that he has already seen the shrine she refuses to go away. She hobbles along clutching even more tightly to his sleeve. She holds on for support as she is old and cannot walk steadily. The protagonist however finds her bothersome and compares her to a burr which sticks to clothing and animal fur and trying to remove them is tedious, similarly, trying to get rid of the old woman turns out to be tedious to the protagonist.

Finally, the protagonist loses his patience and turns to face her and tell her with an air of finality to leave him and go away. He realises that the old woman offering to be a guide is a farce which both are aware of. The old woman realises what the man was going to tell her and before any harsh words of rejection can issue from him, she says, “What else can an old woman do on hills as wretched as these?” Her question, shocking in its bluntness makes the protagonist stand rooted there and he then takes a good look at the old woman. It is here that the protagonist becomes aware of not just the poverty, neglect and wretchedness of the old woman but at the decay and neglect in the larger sense.

As the protagonist gazes into the wrinkled face of the old woman he realises that the wrinkles are not only a sign of old age but the woman herself has been neglected by her family for whom she may have wasted her...
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