The poem “Bosom Friend” is a critical and a sarcastic remark against the hypocritical caste-ridden society. The poet here articulates the pain she has suffered at the hands of the upper class. The experience of constant subjugation, separation and marginalization are expressed in a tone which is both vehement and sarcastic.
The title of the poem has an ironic under tone since her guests do not in anyway live up to her expectations. The narrator in the poem plays the role of hostess to some upper-caste guests. Her treatment of the guests is unconditional and unpretentious. She appreciates her guests for their gesture of magnanimity since they have shed their feeling of cast superiority. She finds it surprising as the gap between low class and upper class was too large to be bridged. But the age old problem has been effortlessly remedied by her guests with the mind as large as the sky.
The devotion showed by the hostess has been compared to that of Shabari of the Ramayana. But unfortunately her devotion was short lived, when she started to serve. The feeling of caste- superiority suddenly found expression in her guests’ insolent remarks on the table etiquette of the hostess. One of them even says, “You folk will newer improve”.
The hostess is terribly offended and breaks in to a sense of nostalgia. She recalls her days of poverty and painfully expresses her impoverished circumstances when she had no access to milk or yoghurt. The expectations of the guests can not be fulfilled since the hostess has been brought up in utter poverty. Her only source of luxury was chutney on coarse bread. The hostess also says that shrikhand was not part of their language. The hostess who was so happy at the arrival of the guests now sounds like a liberated women and defends her ignorance of table etiquette since it was the society which made her.
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- ▼ April (7)