Central theme of poem ‘My Grandmother’s House by Kamala Das

 Q. Central theme of poem ‘My Grandmother’s House by Kamala Das


Central theme of poem ‘My Grandmother’s House by Kamala Das "My Grandmother's House" is a poignant and evocative poem written by the celebrated Indian poet, Kamala Das. The poem is a beautiful portrayal of the speaker's nostalgia for her grandmother's house and the memories associated with it. Through vivid imagery and introspective reflections, Kamala Das conveys the central theme of the poem - the enduring power of cherished memories and the transformative impact of the past on the present.

Kamala Das was born in Malabar in Kerala in 1934. Both her mother and grandfather were Malayalam poets. Kamala Das started writing poetry while at school, but before contributing to Indian poetry in English, she had won fame as a Malayalam writer. Today she is hailed as one of our significant poets writing in English. She is pre-eminently a poet and has truly made a mark with her poems rather than her prose writing. What strikes a reader in her poems is her compelling originality and freshness as also her command over the verse technique and the English language.

Nostalgia and Sentimental Value

Kamala Das’s reminiscences of childhood are associated with Nalapat House, her family home in Malabar, and her grandmother whom she loved dearly. These recollections are always linked with feelings of nostalgia and wistfulness. In My Story she writes, “from every city, I have lived I have remembered the noons in Malabar with an ache growing inside me, a homesickness.” Her family home and its presiding deity—her grandmother, symbolize for the poetess “love”, “innocence”, “respectability” and “traditional values”. In this poem the house is presented with concern and pathos and the poetess expresses her poignant feelings of yearning for this house. She wishes to go back to it.

The poem opens with the speaker reminiscing about her childhood visits to her grandmother's house. The house becomes a symbol of nostalgia and sentimental value, where the memories of her younger days are preserved like precious treasures. Kamala Das employs vivid imagery to paint a picture of the house, highlighting its emotional significance.

The Passage of Time and Change

As the poem progresses, Kamala Das explores the theme of the passage of time and the inevitable changes it brings. The contrast between the past and the present becomes apparent, emphasizing the temporal nature of life and the impermanence of everything, including the house itself.

Through her memories of her grandmother's house, the speaker revisits her past and grapples with the concept of identity. The house acts as a repository of her roots, connecting her to her cultural heritage and familial ancestry. The poem delves into the idea that one's sense of self is deeply intertwined with their past and the places they have called home.

"I am now / A mother and wife, and the sky is high / And the August clouds are moving in / With thunderstorms and rain / I cannot come down."


Blood shows an admirable restraint in tone and tautness of language. The remorse that Kamala Das feels at having failed to abide by the values associated with the old house and the grandmother is more clearly expressed in the poem “Blood” which runs at two levels literal and allegorical.

At the literal level it describes the remote ancestry and the old blood of her family of which her great grandmother was the living example. The great grandmother was deeply religious having been “fed on God for years”, and proud of the purity of her family’s blood. She was, however, greatly concerned about the threatened ruin of the old house.

The poetess promised her that she would renovate the house when she grew up and became very rich. However, as she grew up, she failed to honour her words and retrieve the house from ruin for she “had learnt by then/most lessons of defeat”. Towards the end of the poem its allegorical significance becomes apparent when the poetess substitutes the fall of the old house with the fall of her own old values and blames herself for the damage done to the proud family.


In My Grandmother's House  Kamala Das masterfully weaves together themes of nostalgia, the passage of time, identity, loss, and the longing for belonging. Through evocative imagery and introspective reflections, she illustrates the enduring power of cherished memories and how our past experiences shape who we are in the present. The poem resonates deeply with readers, inviting them to explore their own memories and the profound influence of their roots on their lives. Just as the house stands as a symbol of the poet's past, "My Grandmother's House" reminds us all of the timeless significance of our own cherished memories and the emotional connections that tie us to our heritage. Central theme of poem ‘My Grandmother’s House by Kamala Das


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