Tribute to Papa by Mamta Kalia

Tribute to Papa which is written by Mamta Kalia. She was an Indian poet and belonged to both Hindi and English poetry she wrote in both language and she's very popular on autobiographical poetry. 

She lives in Allahabad and recognized as a poet and short story writer in Hindi.
                     Tribute to Papa Video Analysis

Tribute to Papa Text Analysis

Ironic, and considerably layered in texture, "Tribute to Papa" by Mamata Kalia explores the complex relationship between parent and child, but equally intense in the poem is the critical sense with which the speaker looks at the various ways in which expectation and stereotyping determine the shaping of social perceptions. 

The interrogative mode is used to great effect in the poem to highlight the ambiguities that exist is social discourse and the hypocrisies that condition understanding in modern Indian society. 

The subject of the poem concerns the way womanhood is seen and approached both within the domestic space and the world outside. 

It is also interesting to see how the mother figure is kept under erasure in the poem, and whether the mother is really absent from the household or her voice and expectation does not matter in the way the father's does, the fact that only one parent is addressed shows how the gender question is mired in complexities.

The poem begins with a series of questions: all the lines in the first stanza are presented in the form of queries. 

The word "care" is chosen to highlight the lack of regard for the views of the speaker's father, so that, in effect, what we have here is a man whose ideology, attention to detail regarding hygiene and health, and cultured bearing are shown to be of diminished value in a changed society. 

The first two lines of the poem uses the word "care" to negate the clean priorities of the speaker's father: each word preceded by the word clean is loaded with double meaning. 

The father is said to be a man of "clean thoughts, clean words, clean teeth" and then such attention to cleanliness is presented as being irrelevant in the social environment where the daughter has to conduct herself. 

At one level, there is a contrast between what the father considers important and necessary and what the world now sees, and quite clearly there is a difference in how perceptions have changed over time. 

Father's way of looking at things, his priorities, and his points of view seem to have been superseded by another kind of paradigm that he cannot quite understand or accommodate. 

At another level, however, there is the indication that he has not been able to adapt
himself to the changing circumstances, and that is why he now has to confront this transformation that is affecting life and society. 

The speaker says that her father is an "angel" but asks at the same time, is such an individual in demand? She suggests that the angelic attribute of her father has become obsolete because people prefer to follow other principles in life. 

The nature of the first stanza draws attention to the changed priorities in society, it also highlights how values have undergone a rapid transformation in the context of contemporary culture. 

The choice of words, the focus on the interrogative mode, and the devaluation of positive terms compel the reader to look at the issues the stanza raises with a critical eye. 

What has changed so much in society, so much that forms of cleanliness are now no longer wanted? 

The second stanza extends the same perspective to examine the idea of "success": she says that her father is "unsuccessful" because he could not make things materially as comfortable as others did. 

This insistence on material gratification shows that success is measured in terms of how much one possesses or can acquire in life. And to be able to indulge in unfair practice to enhance one's wealth is considered to be the sign of courage. 

The speaker points out that her father lacked the daring to "smuggle"-which is ordinarily a negative act, but here it is situated as an indicator of bravery and it is something for which she is unable to proclaim to the world how proud she is of her father.

In the following stanza, the idealism of Papa is questioned, for instead of "doing" what others are indulging in, he takes recourse to prayers and spends time in the temple. 

The reference to prayers is significant, use it is something which involves contemplation, and while an idealist would be expected to followed the path of values, that is what those pursuing the materialistic route would consider "useless." 

The speaker refers to her father's expectation of her, as he wants her to emulate the path of a heroic figure like Rani Lakshmibai, who fought for her principles and did not compromise, but such a view regarding achievement in life is no longer considered important. 

She says that such idealism cannot take an individual very far, for the very idea of "sacredness" that he holds so dear is fast losing its charm for the current generation. 

She says that she is even considering "disowning" him, for she finds it difficult to acknowledge him as his father because she cannot identify with what he cherishes and values. Just a clerk, that is how she perceives her father, thereby being judgemental when it comes to assessing his importance as an individual and situating his worth only in terms of his professional assignment. 

As the poem comes to the close, she points out that there is a "clash" between her and her father, as they both have very different priorities. 

A man who values tradition and is idealistic by nature, he is not one to welcome a pre-marital sexual indulgence, and that is where the speaker, as a daughter, questions her father. 

She says that she has the right over her body, and will not follow the principles with which her father conducted himself in life.

As a father, he does not actually intervene in her life, and as the speaker points out, he is "too shy" to ask her is she is having an affair. 

Of the many vital issues that the poem raises, the one of generational change in perspective and worldview is perhaps the most striking. While the idea of an unwed mother is unthinkable to her father, and may even push him to take his own life, she has no qualms about it. 

She is aware of how sensitive he is as a person and as the poem ends, she says that she would take precautions so that his name is not sullied for any action of hers. 

The ironic tone with which the subject of the poem is presented cuts both ways. It points to the growing incidence of materialism and freedom, a diminishing of traditional values in the name of a more liberal outlook and the persistence of a culture of acquisition. 

The father-daughter relation also shows strains that affect them both. While as a daughter she is conscious of what she wants, she is also aware that the values he considers necessary are no longer important for the current generation. 

In a way, then, The Tribute to her Father is paid for his ability to hold on to a way of life that is hardly in vogue. 

The world has moved ahead, and though there is a "clash" as she points out, how far is the new approach to life the suitable alternative to the one epitomized by her father, that issue remains open at the end of the poem. 

When she says that she'll be "careful," it suggests that there is an element of her father's idealism in her as well, for she respects his honour and does not want him to be affected by her actions. 

In spite of the fact that she is liberal-minded, she is always conscious of what her father stood for, and that is why the representation of both the worldviews makes the poem so poignant and relevant in terms of the subject and its treatment.

[ Book Name:- Palimpsest (an anthology of writings by women) edited by BIBHASH CHOUDHARY. Rs. 225/- ( You can buy this book from your local book store). Watch the video for the batter understanding. ]
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