The poem Amalkanti has been written by famous Bengali poet Nirendranath Chakraborty and has been published in Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry, New Delhi 1994. The poem is originally written in Bengali language but has been translated to English by Sujit Mukherjee and Meenakshi Mukherjee. Nirendranath Chakraborty is a Sahitya Academy Award winner and has written several famous books like Ulanga Raja. Apart from this, he has also been awarded a Doctor of Science degree.
The term “Amalkanti” means pure radiance and in the poem, is the name of the main protagonist. Amalkanti’s name suits his character very well as he wants to become sunlight, which here refers to the source of inspiration. Nirendranath Chakraborty has used the literary device Irony to express whether Amalkanti is successful in becoming sunlight or not. Irony is a device or a statement in which the meaning that the speaker implies differs strongly from the meaning that is expressed visibly.
“Amalkanti is a friend of mine,
we were together at school.
He often came late to class
and never new his lessons.
When asked to conjugate a verb,
he looked out of the window
in such puzzlement
that we all felt sorry for him.”
Amalkanti Summary: Here the speaker says that Amalkanti is his childhood friend and was with him in the same school. Amalkanti was a weak student and was not bright in studies. He often came to school late and never completed his class lessons. When asked to conjugate a verb, he could not complete his task and stood speechlessly. This is maybe because he never listened to his class lessons and was always gazing out of the window. The poet further says that his whole class felt sorry for him.
“Some of us wanted to be teachers,
some doctors, some lawyers.
Almalkanti didn’t want to be any of these.
He wanted to be sunlight-
the timid sunlight of late afternoon,
when it stops raining
and the crows call again,
the sunlight that clings like a smile
to the leaves of the jam and the jaamrul.”
Amalkanti Summary: In this extract, the poet is explaining everyone’s ambitions and how focused they were to achieve them. Some of them wanted to be teachers, some doctors, some lawyers etc but Amalkanti didn’t wanted to be any of those. His goal was to become the sunlight that even lights up the setting sun’s dusk and is responsible for the fresh beginning of summer. He wanted to be that sunlight that brings a smile on the faces of jaamrul leaves after heavy rain, he wanted to be the sunlight which will act for others as the source of inspiration.
“Some of us have become teachers,
some doctors, some lawyers.
Amalkanti couldn’t become sunlight.
He works in a poorly lit room
for a printer.
He drops in now and then to see me,
chats about this and that
over a cup of tea, then gets up to go.
I see him off at the door.”
Amalkanti Summary: All of them have grown up and have become doctors, teachers and lawyers but Amalkanti is the only one who couldn’t become the sunlight that he always wanted to be. He works in a dark room for a printing press and according to the speaker, could not even light up his own life. The speaker further says that sometimes Amalkanti visits him and they both drink tea and chat. The speaker himself couldn’t help him and just sees him off the door as he leaves.
The one among us who’s a teacher
could easily have become a doctor.
If the one who’d wanted to be a doctor
had become a lawyer,
it wouldn’t have made much difference to him.
All of us got more or less what we wanted,
all except Amalkanti –
who used to think so much about sunlight
that he wanted to become sunlight.
Amalkanti Summary: Nirendranath Chakraborty says that the people who wanted to become teachers could have easily become doctors, doctors could have become lawyers and if they had then it really wouldn’t have mattered them much. They all got what they wanted, some more and some less but Amalkanti is the only who couldn’t become the sunlight that he always wanted to be.
In the poem is hidden great irony without which it is impossible to understand the poem. Amalkanti becomes a worker for printing press and works in a dark room. According to the speaker, he could not become the soure of inspiration (sunlight) but the speaker is not noticing the fact that by becoming a worker for press Amalkanti has become the sunlight that he always wanted to become by publishing books that have always inspired people and always will.
Amalkanti Summary: Question and Answers
Q: Is Amalkanti’s desre to become sunlight unrealistic or foolish? Explain by providing examples in your answer.
A: In Nirendranath Chakrobarty’s poem “Amalkanti”, Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry, New Delhi, Amalkanti is the main protagonist of the poem and wants to become sunlight. The idea of becoming sunlight is not foolish but is a little unrealistic.
Our real world is driven by ambitions and dreams but greed is the power that has overcome them. The idea of becoming sunligh is unrealistic in real world but as becoming the source of inspiration, it is not foolish. Everyone in the world is inspired by someone, some from a singer, writer, doctor so some from their parents. Although, most of the people do not intentionally want to become that inspiration but end up becoming one, for example, a singer does not want to become inspiration for someone but still he unkowningly inspires many people. In this way, the idea of becoming sunlight is not foolish and upto some point is also not unrealistic.
Q: What do you think is the speaker’s attitude towards Amalkanti?
“Amalkanti” is a poem written by Nirendranath Chakrobarty in the year 1994. Amalkanti is the name of the main protagonist who wants to become sunlight. As speaker thinks that Amalkanti couldn’t become the sunllight he always wanted to be, he is sympathetic towards him and feels sorry for him. Although, this feeling of speaker continues from his childhood where he has seen Amalkanti as a weak student who could not even learn his own lessons.
Q: “If the one who’d wanted to be a doctor had become a lawyer, it wouldn’t have made much difference to him.” What does these lines mean and tells us about Amalkanti’s classmates?
A: The lines given above have been taken from Nirendranath Chakrobarty’s poem “Amalkanti”. These lines show show that unlike Amalkatni, whose ambitions were driven by his creativity, his classmates’ ambitions were driven by greed. All of the Amalkanti’s classmates were better than him in studies and were focused on achieving their goals but these lines mean that even if the one who wanted to become a doctor had become a lawyer, it would have been fine for him because of the equal income that is provided in both these professions.