Friday, January 09, 2004

Nissim Ezekiel - poet who toched with simple words

I am Alone

You are Alone

Let us be Alone together

Today, Nissim Ezekiel, marathi speaking Bene Israel Jewish community poet passed away.

During early 80's, I spent lot of time improving my english langauage fluency and would resort to reading articles on litearture in Times of India and Mid Day. Name Ezekiel often would figure on these pages where he penned his thoughts on various lierary work. He was one person whose english was easy to understand. What I liked about Ezekiel's poetry was his expression of simple aspects of life like love, loneliness, lust,human fallacies in simple and easy to read english. He defied my logic that your literary skills are judged by bombastic words you use. Only later, when i read his thoughts , I learnt his narration for his using simple indian english.

Quote : "It all started as a comment by a friend who said that you write in English no doubt and you write English well but you don't seem to even knowor realise that thousands of Indians speak what can only be called IndianEnglish, because you only meet people who are learning English Literature.So I said yes, it's true I have never thought in terms of writing what youcall Indian English. I have just thought it was bad English or wrong Englishand ignored it. He said no, no, no, you must listen to it. So from that timein all my train journeys from Mithibai College back home, I began to takesome interest in the way English was being spoken on the train. Every time Iheard an obvious Indian English phrase like, "I'm not knowing only", I wouldtake it down. When I had about a thousand of these, I thought now is the time to create a character, who will speak Indian English from beginning toend. A situation has to be created, you have to think of all those things. So several hours would pass before finally the poem would begin and perhapscome to an end. Then it had to be revised and cut down and the emphasiswould be on the Indian English that the character speaks. So naturally onewouldn't write a hundred Indian English poems either so if I would totalthem up, they would come to about six or seven. I think or maybe ten perhaps." Unquote.

This is another poem that brings so beautifully middle class indian ethos and feelings.

Remember me? I am Professor Sheth.
Once I taught you geography. Now
I am retired, though my health is good.
My wife died some years back.
By God's grace, all my children
Are well settled in life.
One is Sales Manager,
One is Bank Manager,
Both have cars.
Other also doing well, though not so well.
Every family must have black sheep.
Sarala and Tarala are married,
Their husbands are very nice boys.
You won't believe but I have eleven grandchildren.
How many issues you have? Three?
That is good. These are days of family planning.
I am not against. We have to change with times.
Whole world is changing. In India also
We are keeping up. Our progress is progressing.
Old values are going, new values are coming.
Everything is happening with leaps and bounds.
I am going out rarely, now and then
Only, this is price of old age
But my health is O.K. Usual aches and pains.
No diabetes, no blood pressure, no heart attack.
This is because of sound habits in youth.
How is your health keeping?
Nicely? I am happy for that.
This year I am sixty-nine
and hope to score a century.
You were so thin, like stick,
Now you are man of weight and consequence.
That is good joke.
If you are coming again this side by chance,
Visit please my humble residence also.
I am living just on opposite house's backside.

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