Adigopula Venkatratnam’s Telugu poem “Jasmine Creeper Under a Banyan Tree” is a poem that depicts the humiliation of a Dalit boy. The poet recounts moments of tremendous suffering in the young protagonist’s life. These events introduces the reader to the disparity that exists between the wealthy and the poor.
The metaphor of the creeper not being able to grow beyond a point in the title has its own ideological basis. Maintenance and nourishment are meaningless in this context; instead, they convey a story of gradual death. Simply surviving is not a smart approach in any event; it should show the potential of awareness, if not a specific concept of development. Whereas the word “jasmine” conjures up images of beauty and smell, the word “creeper” conjures up images of suppleness confined by a weak and powerless trunk. These ladies have a lot in common with women who don’t have a regular career. The banyan tree, on the other hand, is a protective umbrella that shields, covers, and shelters. It’s worth noting that the banyan tree’s three characteristics all relate to a superior, if not arrogant, attitude. The feeling of being deeply important, far reaching, and mature is concealed in the banyan tree. When taken as a whole, the title may point to a structure that humanity built to live beneath and be comfortable in due of the building’s solidity. The title of the poem alludes to the benefits of caste system, which assigns particular occupations to each caste. The shudras must make the life of the higher castes pleasant if Brahmins are to offer thinking and perspective. The lower and higher castes complement one other in the hierarchy, allowing the system to endure for a long period. The poem, on the other hand, contradicts this title and criticises it for its shallowness and unreliability.
Critically analyse the poem Jasmine Creeper under a Banyan Tree.
The line “no lack of experiences” appears at the start of the poem. Torture and neglect have occurred on many occasions. The brutality of repeated tortures is not hidden by any “famine.” Suppression produces its own kind of insult, and if left unchecked for a long period, it becomes a lethal chemical. Make a note of the mother of the kid rushing from one home to the next in order to obtain a glass of milk for her son. Her only job is to feed the kid so that he may grow into a promising young man in the future. In the poem’s harsh environment, the kid needs more than just a body. He is unable to attend school until he is properly dressed. The reader is informed that farming and education are out of the question since he is unable to properly protect his body. The teacher must preserve decorum at school and must send him back since he is missing his knickers. The silence is deafening when it comes to “the teacher’s ruling.” The child’s only purpose is to knead the mud in the hopes of making it suitable for the bricks that will be hardened in a fire. A few elements are concealed from the reader’s perspective because they seem to be too graphic to be seen. As a result, we only know that he was “imprisoned/ in a cow shed, like a cattle/ for two whole days!” for some reason. The abuse continues, and the kid is turned over to the police, who accuse him of committing larceny. In this case, the master wants to be the owner of the bonded laborer’s kid.
The next element is that of the father, who was discovered dead in his cabin or in the fields. This was subsequently discovered to be a suicide attempt by the father. These events are described as a “river of humiliations” by the narrator, but they are obviously more than that. The reader is informed towards the conclusion of the poem that the master’s shelter for sheltering the father and son is best represented as a banyan tree. The father-son team will be able to “survive while not dying” as a result of this. The child’s last words are directed to the master, who should brag to the world that he kept the father and son alive by providing them with shade and food.
The poem has large gaps, with numerous half-sentences amplifying the effect. The small distinction between “living” and “growing” adds to the poem’s impact, which becomes a harsh condemnation of societal hierarchy that denies freedom to those who are so vital to its maintenance and sustenance. The poem has a powerful charge of feeling under the surface of words that will not be satisfied with just recognising the reality of the arrangement. The story depicts a complete rejection of the refuge and its well-established providers.
The poem is structured around a character speaking in the first person singular and refers to various events in his life in order to share his feelings with the reader. The character’s narrative includes a store that starts with his boyhood, which was shielded by his mother. The kid is aware that his mother works around the clock to raise him, providing for food and other needs. He knows she’ll go to any length to enlist the assistance of her neighbours, her sole goal being to ensure that he matures. There’s also mention of his mother’s wish to send him to school. The scenario clearly dates from India’s post-independence period, when schools opened their doors to the lower classes in order to encourage people to pursue education. However, this was just at the policy level; the policy’s purpose did not permeate into the schoolteacher’s mind and awareness. It was not the teacher’s responsibility to persuade the impoverished student to sit in class and feel at ease while studying his teachings.
In the case of the kid, a broken slate would not be a big deal; nevertheless, it becomes the reason why the instructor sends him home. His torn shirt and “no underwear” are also on the list of the shattered slate. In the poem, it is implied that the instructor was unconcerned with the dalit child’s plight. At this point, the child’s voice and the writer’s merge into one. Note the usage of the word “governed” throughout the poem. The instructor declared, much like an established court, that the kid would be unfit for “farming or schooling!” in the future. The poet’s voice is unsettled by the teacher’s statement. This is supported by the usage of the word “governed” just after they mention farming and education. The first rule is about what the kid is not allowed to do. The second is about what he’ll do, which is “kneading the muck.” This description highlights the arrogance of a well-equipped upper-caste instructor who can foresee the future in the case of the socially disadvantaged. The teacher’s words has the weight of destiny: it is the child’s fate to knead the mud for the rest of his life. From this, the poem leads us to a kid who is forced to stay in a cattle-shed for two days since it is suspected that he has stolen something from his master’s home. Even though the child’s confessional position is preserved in the following narrative, the master is the landlord. The poet has greater and more direct influence over the language. The poet makes a comparison between the landlord and God, “Eswara,” and discovers what the landlord can do and what God cannot. The satire is sharp and revealing, and the bitterness that it emphasises matches the mentality of the poet, who is full of rejection and, indeed, a feeling of condemnation.