Friday, March 13, 2015

“The Invitation "by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

The Persona’s Bitter-Sweet Memory of a Sexual Experience

The persona in the poem recalls her experience of the sexual act with a lover. (The persona is most probably the poetess herself). On a certain day, she felt as if a man’s fist was alternately tightening itself and then loosening its muscles. It seemed to her that the man were forming some firm resolve and then becoming somewhat uncertain. In other words, the poetess was feeling tortured by her memory of her experience of love-making with a lover of hers. The lover had gone away after making love to her, and had not returned. The woman (who, as we have already indicated, could be the poetess herself) knew that her lover would not come back, but she could not forget her experience of love-making with that man because the experience had been a most delicious one. The bitter-sweet of the memory of her sexual experience continued to haunt her.

The Sea’s Suggestion to the Woman to Jump into its Waters and Perish there.

Standing on the seashore, the woman got the feeling that the sea was inviting her to jump into its waters in order to perish there and thus put an end to her life. The sea seemed to say to her that she would lose nothing except her miserable life while it would certainly gain something by swallowing her body and thus adding to its conquests. The woman, however, told the sea to mind its own business and to go its own way, leaving her to go her way.

The Woman’s Effort to Dismiss Her Memories from Her Mind

The woman then recalled how her lover used to come to her in the intervals of his office-work in order to make love to her. He used to come to her to refresh himself after his tiring office-work, and he felt warmed in her embraces, remaining silent all the time. The woman then tried to dismiss this memory from her mind by telling herself that her lover had gone for good, and that it would be foolish on her part to entertain any hope that he would return.

The Sea’s Repetition of its Invitation to the Woman

The sea seemed to repeat its invitation to the woman to enter its waters in order to put an end to her life. But the woman replied that she wanted to be left alone, and not to be pestered by the sea. Her thoughts again turned to her lover; and she realized that she wanted no other lover but the same who had been sleeping with her and who had now gone away. In bed with him, she used to feel as if she was in paradise. The bed, six feet in length and two feet in width, was heaven for them; and, it was only when they left the bed-room and walked together in the open that they exposed themselves to the much wider space outside where the city was situated.

The Sea’s Invitation, Made to Appear More Attractive

The sea spoke to the woman again, urging her to end her life in its waters. The sea told her that, if she waited for her death to come naturally to her, she would have to be cremated; and her dead body would then be placed on a funeral pyre to be consumed by the fire. The sea said that, if she jumped into its waters, she would meet a cool death, and that she would be able to stretch her limbs on the cool sand at its bottom and would be able to rest her head on the flowers growing there.

The Woman, Unable to Shed Her Memories of Her Lover

The woman, turning away from the sea, thought again of her experience of love-making with that lover of hers. Throughout the summer they had been meeting in the afternoons to make love to each other, and, at the end of the sexual act, their bodies would lie listlessly on the bed, with their minds rendered incapable of thinking by the heat of the sun.

The Woman’s Rejection of the Sea’s Invitation

The sea spoke once more, urging the woman to put an end to her memories of her past love-making and the heartache which those memories were causing her. The sea went on to say that it had waited for a long time for the right person, who would also be a bright person, like her, to come and enter its blue waters. But this time the woman replied to the sea that she was still young, and that she still needed that lover of hers to reconstruct her life and then to destroy it. In other words, she had a vague hope that her lover might come back to her even though he might again forsake her. So she told the sea to leave her to herself.

The Woman’s Final Decision

Then, once more turning away from the sea, the woman said that the sea could wait and that she was not yet prepared to drown herself in it. And next she spoke in her imagination to her absent lover and told him that the sea-waves were rushing violently towards the seashore, wanting to drown her. She had been resisting the sea’s invitation but she could not go on resisting it forever. Thus, the woman’s monologue ends with her intention soon to give a practical shape to her desire to commit suicide.