Blessings: do we take them for granted?

An poetic devices/literary techniques analytical essay: “Blessing” by Imtiaz Dharker

Benjamin Franklin once said “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water”. This quote reveals the way in which humans take things for granted and then realise its value once it disappears. In the poem ‘Blessing’ by Imtiaz Dharker, a burst water pipe in the Dharavi slum of India causes great excitement for inhabitants as they are often lacking access to it. A theme that directly relates to the text is that of “We do not fully appreciate an item until it becomes rare”. In the arid conditions of Mumbai, water is viewed as a precious commodity and every single drop of the liquid is considered a miraculous blessing. Dharker uses a combination of literary techniques in order to make first-world readers wonder how much they take for granted in their daily lives.

In the first stanza, Dharker combines the use of simile and rhythm to introduce the problems that arise out of insufficient water. The poem begins with a powerful image; “The skin cracks like a pod” hooks the reader into wanting to know what the cause is of such intense agony. A statement is then made concerning the reason behind the pain, which is because “There is never enough water”. The author’s use of hard consonants in the first line creates an onomatopoeic effect, reflecting the hypothetical sound of a bursting seed pod. The simile further extends the comparison between the splitting of a seed pod and the painful cracking of human skin, and also between the gashes that appear on the ground of drought-ravaged countries. Dharker paints this despondent picture in the first stanza to contrast with the exuberance of the third and fourth stanzas, making the blessing of water seem more special because the reader is aware of the bleak consequences of not having it. The people of Dharavi have experienced life without the precious liquid, and Dharker uses these techniques to describe the implications of living without an essential component of a healthy lifestyle.

The poet’s choice of diction supports the extended metaphor of water being a gift from a celestial power. Dharker’s use of the words ‘congregation’, ‘blessing’ and ‘roar of tongues’, imply the idea that the residents of the Dharavi slum view the water as a godsend. A ‘congregation’ denotes a group of people assembled to praise a deity, and the author’s use of the word infers the high importance in which the crowd views the water. As the people are described as a congregation, the author suggests that the collecting of water is a sacred ritual for them. The title of the piece is named ‘Blessing’ and this infers that the precious liquid is a gift of grace given by god. By naming the poem ‘Blessing’, Dharker provides the first hint of the extended metaphor and also the basis on which the rest of the metaphor sits. Later on, an allusion to Pentecost and the descending of the Holy Spirit is made through the words ‘roar of tongues’. Pentecost was the Jewish festival on which tongues of fire alighted with a roar on the heads of the disciples. They were then able to miraculously speak in many tongues which they had been unable to previously. Dharker’s indirect reference adds an extra depth to the religious metaphor and further extends the imagery in the mind of the reader. The use of connotation, denotation and allusion in ‘Blessing’ reveal that the inhabitants of Dharavi slum do not take water for granted and instead revere it – just as they would a god.

Inhabitants of Dharavi slum do not take water for granted because there is so little of it; Dharker reveals just how little in the second stanza. The author uses enjambment to leave the word ‘echo’ on the end of a line. This re-creates the effect of an echo trailing off, indicating the drop of water is resounding in an otherwise empty container. After the word ‘imagine’ in the beginning of line three until the end of line five, single syllables are used to mirror the sound of dripping water and the echo it creates. The sequence of text ‘… the drip of it/the small splash, echo/ in a tin mug, ‘ is comprised of monosyllabic words and adds an aural dimension to the idea of there being so little water. Alliteration is found in line four through the use of the words ‘small splash’. This is also an example of sibilance; the author uses it because the ‘s’ sound slows down the reader (due to the sound being difficult to say quickly), drawing attention to the severe depletion of water in the land. These techniques serve the purpose of building up imagery of a community desperate for even a drop of the prized resource.

Chaos erupts as precious water gushes out in stanza three. The bursting of the pipe is met with sheer joy and the poet describes the way in which the crowd treasures the water. Later on in the stanza, the line of ‘silver crashes to the ground’ is used as a metaphor to compare the liquid with a valuable metal. Under the glaring sunlight, flowing water can resemble silver. The fact that this water is ‘crashing to the ground’ hints that the treasured water is being wasted as no-one is trying to contain it. In India, Pakistan and other parts of Asia, there is a custom where the wealthy throw silver coins on the ground for the poor. The ninth line mimics this charitable action and also reminds that this water from the pipe will not sustain them forever. Because the people know this is only a short-lived happiness and that the water will eventually stop flowing, they clamour to save as much as possible using their pots, buckets and hands. The author uses the metaphor to accentuate the value of the water, the temporary relief that the water brings and also the indescribable joy that overflows like running water.

While we – with our bathtubs, taps, flushing toilets and bottled water – use water everyday without giving it much thought, there are many who battle to live with an inadequate supply everyday. Residents of Christchurch never could have predicted the earthquake and the shortage of clean drinking water that would ensue. Now many of them are extremely grateful for any amount of the life-giving liquid. When asked about the conditions in India, Dharker stated “When a pipe bursts or a water tanker goes past, there is always a child running behind trying to catch drips of water. Water is like currency, it’s like money. In a hot country in that kind of climate, it’s like a gift. It really is very precious. When the water comes it’s like a god.” Through her use of literary devices, Imtiaz Dharker makes the reader think about whether they fully appreciate the gifts that the earth has presented to them. Aldous Huxley, author of ‘Brave New World’, once expressed that “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted”. Living in New Zealand, it is common for us to complain about the scorching heat in the middle of summer; during the rainy season of the June-July period, however, every warm and sunny day is greeted with smiles and plans of going outside to enjoy the sunshine. The question is, how many things do we take for granted, and under what circumstances will we learn to appreciate the things we have in abundance?


Long time no update ^^; neglecting max-leveled =-= Anywaaaays, mocks are coming up and English is the first exam. WHOOPTY DOO. So stressed rn for maths because ughhhh math. While writing up my V for Vendetta film essay, I found this on my SkyDrive. I THOUGHT I LOST IT WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. The feels when I found it were like ;~~~~~;
This was an essay I wrote for junior exams last year, ALLBAMASELF. Like seriously. The teacher gave us two completely random poems and didn’t even teach it because he probably wanted us to all write about the novel (The outsiders) that we studied instead to save him time and energy. LAZY AS. I learnt nothing last year ^-^ just spent a lot of time arguing with the teacher and chatting in class and doing other subjects’ homework. Ok this essay maxed out the marking schedule TT^TT 7+, it said. harhar I was pleased. First time I ever saw a 7+ on any essay, let alone on the essay of a deranged Chinese girl’s. But then it was pretty bad cos getting a 7+ was my main motivation to do well (well that, and the possibility of getting a trophy). Maybe this was the final plank on the bridge to that trophy, because I did end up getting the award I so coveted, striking it off my bucket list of keeping the top of the year English trophy (hehehe got contribution to debate award and 1 of 6 top scholar awards ^^). I don’t think this is a feat that I can repeat this year though, because I honestly feel as if my English is deteriorating (if you can even put it that way). And I’m getting dumber too; I’ve never seen so many Merits and I GOT MY FIRST ACHIEVED(s) IN MATH OH WHYYYYYYYYYY QAQ /cries a little. Maybe cos I haven’t touched a real book in soooooo long. harhar here I am procrastinating again when I should really be finishing that V essay or even better, heading to bed. ENJOY DIS OK COS I PUT A LOT OF EFFORT INTO IT OTL arigatou gozaimasu.