Can someone explain the summary of the poem "Grandfather" by Jayanta Mahapatra?

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In this poem, the speaker is reading the "yellowed pages" of his grandfather's diary and asking the grandfather a lot of questions about his life. We can assume that these are questions he never had the opportunity to ask his grandfather out loud. Reading the diary makes the speaker remember his grandfather's voice as he remembers it, but he also knows that the grandfather writing in the diary is not quite the man he remembers.

He asks how old his grandfather was when he left his "family behind" due to a famine which forced him to leave his home in order to survive. The speaker notes that reading this diary makes him think of his grandfather as he was when "young," something which seems to break down the distance between them. The "glory" his grandfather once enjoyed in the speaker's mind, due to being in a privileged position because of his age, is now changed somewhat because of this new perspective. An "invisible" figure now, the speaker ponders the interesting fact that it is the move his grandfather made which has shaped his own life and that of his children; but at the same time, he does not really know who his grandfather was.

Toward the end of the poem, the speaker directly expresses his wish to have known his grandfather better. He also states that the "social order" of his country forces people to behave in a way that they might not otherwise have done, something he seems to regret.

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This poem is about an old man who suffered through a famine The old man is the speaker’s grandfather. The speaker starts out reading the grandfather’s diary, for he says:

The yellowed diary’s notes whisper in vernacular

This means that he is reading the grandfather’s diary, written in his native language (vernacular). By reading the diary, the speaker can experience what his grandfather went through during the famine because it is described in the diary, which is so old it has “yellowed” pages. If you read through the rest of the poem, you will see some of the things the grandfather suffered – starvation, weakness, despair. The grandfather had to leave his family behind, probably burying many of them. The speaker states that no doubt, faith was unimportant to a man that was starving.

What did faith matter? What Hindu world so ancient and true for you to hold?

The speaker asks the grandfather many rhetorical questions: Did you see your own death? How old were you?

The poem ends with the speaker bemoaning the fact that he didn’t know his grandfather enough. He is looking at his grandfather’s picture – “you are an invisible piece on a board”.

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