Dilip Purushottam Chitre (1938 – 2009) was an Indian poet writing after India's independence from Britain. During this time India was beginning its transition from a primarily agricultural nation to one participating in an industrialized global economy. The travels of the father in a sense echo the journey of India herself, trying to bridge her precolonial cultural and religious roots with her current position as part of a globalized modern world.
The father in the poem has roots in this older, precolonial natural and agricultural world, but has been displaced from it by the forces of modernity. He works in a city and travels by train past suburbs. He wears a black raincoat and carries books, but still wears traditional chappals on his feet despite the rain. He is literate and educated and reads when he gets home. He lives in modern housing with an indoor toilet and running water, and thus is a member of the middle class, perhaps a writer, teacher, or government official, but not particularly well-off as:
His shirt and pants are soggy and his black raincoat
Stained with mud and his bag stuffed with books
Is falling apart.
As well as being surrounded by books, he listens to a radio, albeit one that receives static rather than a clear signal. Thus he is completely embedded in a man-made world. Despite this, his children are sullen and he does not share their jokes or secrets, signalling his alienation from a modern generation.
Although the world the father moves through in the poem is man-made--he is not a peasant or sadhu or sannyasin and is firmly embedded in the created modern postcolonial world--he is not happy within in and dreams of his ancestors, who lived in a more natural world, and of his grandchildren, who will be natives of the man-made world. His lack of connection with nature is expressed in the lines:
...His eyes dimmed by age
fade homeward through the humid monsoon night.
He himself is caught between the two worlds, not really at home in either.