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FATHER RETURNING HOME

How does Dilip Chitre describe his fathers train journey in Father Returning Home?
Father Returning Home is a short and appealing poem about an old man in a cosmopolitan city where his own
sons and daughters treat him as an alien. He himself is estranged from the man-made world. Through this poem,
Chitre has denounced the urban rootlessness and alienation. The poem, Father Returning Home focuses on
the theme of alienation or estrangement experienced by the aged in their twilight years. Dilip Chitre talks about
his own father and through the poem, we get to know the alienation, isolation and misery experienced by elderly
people, especially in cities.
The first stanza of Father Returning Home describes the train journey of his father while returning home one
evening. The father stands among commuters in the yellow light of a local compartment. The poet describes his
fathers reaction against the sights of the suburbs that pass by. His father remains unmoved by the sights
because they are too familiar to him. That is quite normal, isnt it? We hardly pay attention to those places
where we travel every day, unless the place has something interesting to offer. Same was with the poets father.
The poet then describes his fathers pathetic condition, as he travels during the rainy season. His clothes become
damp and dirty. The black raincoat that he wears becomes stained with mud. His bag crumbles with the heavy
load of the books.
Due to old age, the poets fathers eyesight has become poor and therefore he finds difficulty to move about in
the dark. The poet says that he can see his father getting down the train like a word dropped from a long
sentence. The sentence is highly unique and it provides an evocative image of an old man who gets down from
the train as if he is no longer relevant to it. The poet then sees his father hurrying through the long, grey
platform. The man seems to be as old as the platform, who has been using it as a part of his routine. He crosses
the railway tracks and hurries home through muddy lanes on a rainy day. This is indicated by
his chappals which are sticky with mud. This stanza portrays the monotonousness of the old man, who sustains
the vagaries of weather as well as the estrangement from the man-made.
The second stanza, the poet represents the alienation of his father that he experiences in his own dwelling. The
poet tells us that his father drinks a weak tea and eats a stale chapatti when he comes back home. This shows
that the even his basic requirements are not properly carried out by his family. A sense of pity for the poets
father arises in us, what do you think?
The father is then seen going into a contemplative mood after reading some kind of a philosophical book. He
goes to the toilet and contemplates over mans alienation from the man-made world. This exhibits that the man
is visibly upset with his predicament. He is terribly shaken when he comes out of the toilet and trembles while
he washes his hands at the wash basin. It seems that he trembled not only because of the cold water but also due
to the thoughts that came into his mind while he was thinking in the toilet.
The father finds himself all alone in his room as he is written off by his children. The children do not interact
with their father; they do not share their joys or sorrows with him. To compensate their company, the father
listens to the radio. Then he goes to sleep. In his sleep, he dreams about his ancestors and grandchildren. It
seems that he is trying to communicate with his ancestors who had entered the subcontinent through the Khyber
Pass in the Himalayas in the past. The dream mirrors that the old man is either thinking about his past (his
ancestors) or his future (his grandchildren). It is a kind of relief to him from his mundane routine, devoid of any
human contact.
Father Returning Home is a poem written by Dilip Chitre. The main idea of this poem is
'Man's estrangement from a man-made world'. Here the father comes home late tired with his
pants are soggy and his black raincoat is stained with mud and his bag is falling apart-He never
cares the scenes of the outer world when he travels. Because he is always musing about his
family. He is so true about his family, yet no one in his family realizes his care for them.

He gets only the weak tea and stale chapati. (Look, he is the only one who works hard for his
family yet he does not get even good food.) The lines like 'The cold water running over his brown
hands, A few droplets cling to the greying hairs on his wrists' are used to add to the effect of the
life and the world of poor father. His children are not ready to share jokes with him-their
sullenness shows the unspoken resentment. And finally, even when he goes to bed the story is
not different. There he receives only noised receiving, not even a good program from the radio.
In short the father has no joy in his life; there is no closeness between the father and the
children. The only thing that changes the mood of the poem is when he thinks about his dead
yesterdays (ancestors) and unborn tomorrows (grand-children and nomads) -Here one thing must
be noted that he dreams about these people not about his own children. Patel wanted to convey
the idea of unseen sincerity of millions of fathers who strive hard for their family and their
people.
About the Author
Dilip Chitre (1938-2008) is a Marathi writer. He is both a poet and essayist. He has published six
collections of poems. As Is Where Is (2007) is one among them. He also translated the poems of Tukaram
the Marathi Bhakti poet. His main theme is Mumbai life. He also deals with the discrepancy between words
and thoughts as a theme in poetry.

Summary
Alienation(loneliness) is a prominent theme found in many of Chitres works. The pathos of an old father
returning to a gloomy house late in the evening is well addressed in the poem. The insignificance of the
father is brought out through minute details like soggy, mud-stained clothes and vacant eyes. The father
is relegated to the background by his family. The monotony and meaninglessness of his life is expressed in
the smile like a word dropped from a sentence. The triviality of his actions is amusing. He ponders over
mans estrangement from a man-made world in the toilet. His actions are all sordid, mechanical and
divorced of human contact. His eyes are unseeing and dimmed by age.

At the outset the poet describes his father coming home in an evening train. Father is silent and is
unmoved by the sights of the suburbs because they are too familiar to him to catch his eye. His clothes
are damp and dirty, his bag is disintegrating with the heavy load of books. Being old, he has lost the
brightness of his eyes. The poet visualizes him getting out of the train and hastening along the platform.

At home, the alienation is not lessened. He is written off by his children. Even his tea is weak and the
chapatti he eats is stale. His children are gloomy and do not interact with him. He has to be content with
listening to the static on the radio. His life, having lost its charm, music fails to interest him. Yet his
dreams are on a grander scale. They revolve round his ancestors and grandchildren. He dreams of Aryans
entering Afghanistan through the Khyber Pas and the very thought makes him ecstatic.

What is the message in Dilip Chitre's poem "Father Returning Home"?


The main message of the poem is that of individual alienation in modern society, as illustrated in the father of
the title who appears as a tired, poor, shabby old man. In this way the poem taps into a common theme of
modern literature the world over. Much of the poem is taken up with a visual description of this man, all of
which emphasises his loneliness and world-weariness. We first see him among other commuters on the train
journey home where he sits with his wretched belongings, alone in a crowd. In a particularly striking image, he

is described as 'getting off the train/Like a word dropped from a long sentence. This gives a sense of his
irrelevance in this society, which like the train goes on unheedingly without him. Yet, although so downtrodden
and so easily ignored, there is a hint of an indomitable spirit within him when it is said that in spite of his
muddied chappals, or sandals, he still hurries onward.
Significantly, it is not only the outside world but also his own home which appears as a wholly unsympathetic
environment; he is given stale things to eat, and his sullen children seem to largely ignore him. Devoid even
of family companionship, it is little surprise that he retreats to contemplate/Mans estrangement from a manmade world. This is the one time that the poem directly states its central message. The depiction of this mans
estrangement not only from society at large but also from his own family lends the piece a double piquancy.
The poem, then, conveys an overwhelming sense of the sordidness and bleakness of one mans life. There
seems to be little route of escape for this unfortunate character except, it seems, in the inner recesses of his
own mind where he can dream himself away from the present time, into the refuge of the far past or the distant
future, with his ancestors and his grandchildren. The poem thus plays up the contrast between this mans frail
and shabby exterior and the rich, teeming inner life that still pulses within him. Despite all external setbacks, it
seems as though the mind can never be quite conquered. In fact, the final image of the poem is that of
conquerors; the man dreams of the hordes of the ancient invaders of India, coming down through the Khyber
Pass. This rich, romantic, inner life is what continues to sustain him through his uninspiring day-to-day
existence in the modern world.