Ram Kumar's paintings of the 1950s are a direct reaction to the events he witnessed around him upon his return from Paris. His figurative paintings from these years capture, "the world of the city with its slums and squalor-ridden bastis, its wage slaves and desk slaves, its grinding routine and of the baffled, beaten, and lost being caught in it." (J. Swaminathan, 'Ram Kumar - A New Stage', Lalit Kala Contemporary 40, New Delhi, March 1995, p. 42.) Having been brought up in the city's middle class, he was particularly sympathetic to the feelings of disillusionment and alienation he sensed in those around him.
Most of his works show male figures that represent the disenchanted bourgeois laborer. His women are often depicted surrounded by several figures, including children. Hence when shown isolated and alone, as in the current painting, the effects of these emotions are heightened. Her solid form is placed monumentally in the foreground and serves to emphasize the angular, looming forms of the cityscape in the background. Yet, she is a "sad, drooping figure, rendered with childlike directness, lingering like shadows in gloomy surroundings of gaunt and empty streets and houses." Her eyes have "lost their animation, and are windows opening into nothingness." (J. Swaminathan, op. cit., p. 39.)
The work is not meant to depict a specific person. Rather she is symbolic of the general malaise that had enveloped Ram Kumar's contemporaries in the 1950s. "The presence of feeling, the province of thought, the existence of a world within is evident in their intense expressions and the spectator felt that the private and personal existence, the life of the mind that each of these persons embodies, was more terrible and remorseless than the physical and environmental condition." (R. Bartholomew, 'Attitudes to the Social Condition: Notes on Ram Kumar, Lalit Kala Contemporary 24-25, New Delhi, September 1977 - April 1978, p. 32.)
For a similar work, see Sorrow from 1957, published in Ram Kumar, A Journey Within, New Delhi, 1996, p. 62.