Blood – by Kamala Das

Kamala Das as a poet presents us with a powerful and, yet emotional poem, that plays with the emotional as well as cultural instincts of the reader. It is not merely a work with hundreds of lines, but is connected closely to the poet’s heart, dedicated to her grandmother and a promise that could never be fulfilled. Blood is a poem that promises the readers to think about the promises they make, and their failure to get them fulfilled. Also, reminds them to keep carrying the good qualities and cultural heritage, all along their generations, causing a failure of which can lead to a vas gap between the traditional customs and present generation.

Remembering all the fun and floric days of childhood, spent with her brother, back in the their grandmother’s home. She happily rediscovers – at the beginning of the poem – , that she would play in sand, draw birds and animals. But at the same time, she is envisaged with the ugly memory of her worried grandmother, about her falling home. She told her (the poet), the house is as old as, three hundred years, and now falling to little bits. The grandmother is helpless that she could not do, but repent, since all the things of the house are now cracking, whether Lord Shiva’s temple, or the doors with holes. She cries and worries so much for the house, that even her eyes have got reddend;seeing which, the little Kamala Das promises to repair it some day when she grow old, and very very rich. Hearing this innocent promise, made out of curiosity, her grandmother touches her cheeks and smile.

Further, the laureate speaks up about her grandmother, who was really a simple lady, with least desires in the world. “Fed on God for years”,her only espouse was God, for she had became a widow the next year of her marriage. Her grandmother was a princess, rode on elephant, always went to temple, she had a lot of jewel, and every kind of quality oil, perfume and sandal.

The poet is proud to be born in such a lineage, that “had the oldest blood”, the blood, in terms of heritage and traditional values. Unlike others, who either are new-richmen, or are always poor, having the hunch, “muddy as a ditch”. But, alas! one very poor day, she lay died in her eighty sixth year. The poet remembers her as –

A woman wearied by compromise
Her legs quilted with arthritis
And with only a hard cough
For comfort

She looked deep into her eyes, and prayed for her, that she always grieved for the house. Also, by now the poet herself has learnt how difficult it is to fulfill a promise, compared to making one. And once again, she saw “the house was crouching”, this time because nobody will be there to care of it, the way she used to have.

Here, the use if personification, beautifies the poem, and shovea more liveliness in the whole picture of the house, ruing, regretting, and repenting at the same time. When her grandmother was burnt into ashes, she looked at the house and thought, the house which was once loved a lot by her grandmother, its windows will be shut forever, like the closing of the eyes;pillars will groan;and the rooms sigh. And she set forward towards town, leaving the house, and all the good memories of her childhood.

Assuming the rats running around ever corner of the house, darkened halls, white ants covering the doors, one night, she fret, as the poet moved from one town to another. Since, it was nearest to her heart and grandmother, she felt as if the house is creaking and falling to sherds, also, she now regrets and seek forgiveness from the house, as was not able to fulfill the promise made to her grandmother. She quotes-

I have let you down
Old house,I seek forgiveness
O mother's mother's mother
I have plucked your soul
Like a pip from a fruit
And have flung it into your pyre

She had disappointed her grandmother and has destroyed her dreams. And therefore is asking her to either call her callous, or selfish, but do not blame her traditions and moral values given to her by her ancestors. Finally she assures her dead grandmother, even if she has not kept her promise, but she has not forgotten the good ethics, and morals taught to her by the grandmother.