Dilip Purushottam Chitre was one of the foremost Indian writers and critics of the post Independence India. Apart from a being a writer, he was also a painter and a filmmaker. Father Returning Home is a short and appealing poem about an old man in a cosmopolitan city where his own sons and daughters treat him as an alien. He himself is estranged from the man-made world. Through this poem, Chitre has denounced the urban rootlessness and alienation.
The first stanza of Father Returning Home describes the train journey of his father while returning home one evening. The father stands among commuters in the yellow light of a local compartment. The poet describes his father’s reaction against the sights of the suburbs that pass by. His father remains unmoved by the sights because they are too familiar to him. That is quite normal, isn’t it? We hardly pay attention to those places where we travel every day, unless the place has something interesting to offer. Same was with the poet’s father. The poet then describes his father’s pathetic condition, as he travels during the rainy season. His clothes become damp and dirty.
The black raincoat that he wears becomes stained with mud. His bag crumbles with the heavy load of the books. Due to old age, the poet’s father’s eyesight has become poor and therefore he finds difficulty to move about in the dark. The poet says that he can see his father getting down the train ‘like a word dropped from a long sentence.’ The sentence is highly unique and it provides an evocative image of an old man who gets down from the train as if he is no longer relevant to it. The poet then sees his father hurrying through the long, grey platform.
The man seems to be as old as the platform, who has been using it as a part of his routine. He crosses the railway tracks and hurries home through muddy lanes on a rainy day. This is indicated by his chappals which are sticky with mud. This stanza portrays the monotonousness of the old man, who sustains the vagaries of weather as well as the estrangement from the man-made.
The second stanza, the poet represents the alienation of his father that he experiences in his own dwelling.