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A Poem for Mother by Robin S. Ngangom - autobiographical elements

A Poem for Mother by Robin S. Ngangom

A Poem for Mother by Robin S. Ngangom - autobiographical elements

Write an illustrative note on the autobiographical elements in the poem, ‘A Poem for Mother’, by Robin S. Ngangom.

Answer: A Poem for Mother is a fairly personal poem about Ngangom’s own childhood days and experiences of life. 

The poem, a tribute to his own mother, individualized through naming, ‘Palem Apokp’. The poem is a sort of invocation to her as the ‘mythic woman’ in her traditional role as a housekeeper, homemaker, and especially ‘toiling as all mothers do’. 

The poem also supplies personal details about Ngangom’s childhood, growing up and then finally abandoning his homeland and migrating to Shillong and settling there.

In this poem, the poet invokes his mother as a sort of the spiritual power to stand stable and faithful to her family, comprising her aged husband, growing and unsteady sons and ‘liberated’ daughter-in-law. Though this poem is not one of the political poems of Ngangom, it traces the advancement of a society in transition by looking at its three main character portraits: the mother, the son and the daughter-in-law

The mother symbolizes the traditional an ancestral values of the land. She is remained a mute and silent spectator who continues to unquestioningly witnesses and changes both within the family as well as the changes that shock her land. Even when the times are changing and the sons are leaving their homeland, the figure of the mother continues to surface as a powerful rock, who manages to withstand public, political and private upheavals.

The mother has a dearly cherished memory for the poet who remembers how she loved and even gave indulgences to his boyhood irregularity. She allowed him to eat solely from her dearly stocked stores of food, during her absence from the house-

“The boy who lost many teeth

By emptying your larder

When you are away…” 

He was her “dreamy eyed lad/ who gave her difficult times/ during his school days, running/ after every girl he met, even/ when he still wore half pants”.

The poet remembers yet her Advice to her children to pay the proper attention to money and time.

“Money and time do not grow on trees”

 And the poet failed to remain true to his mother’s love and saying. He abandoned the homeland and his dear mother in a mood of desperation, though he strongly hated his action. He senses up deep regret for not having done anything worth–while for his mother and motherland is heard in his lamentation.

A Poem for Mother by Robin S. Ngangom - autobiographical elements

The poet’s self-deprecatory tone, the note of apology that the son offers to his mother and the repetition of the word ‘small’ belittled the existence of the son outside the ‘motherland.’ The poet no doubt shared with the mother the happy memories as her ‘dreamy eyed lad’. While acknowledging his own selfish decision of his land and family, he respectfully admits her patient through painful endurance of the upheaval, public, private and political, all around. The mother continues to manage her family and tradition against the heavy odds of changing time. What is left to the unworthy son is to offer a pathetic apology for his own failing to her:

“Only I deserted much and left

So little of myself for others

To remember me at home”

Thus, in this poem we succeed to find every elements of a sincere son. However, as a part of the poet’s autobiographical details, against a rapidly changing situation, the poem is an unconditional tribute to his mother, an open, sincere eulogy to a genuinely motherly portrait by an unhappy and unsuccessful son.



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