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Aug 28, 2016

The Professor Condoles by Daruwalla

The Professor Condoles by Daruwalla
Bijay Kant Dubey

The professor condoles it not, but Daruwalla is condoling, thinking of himself being in the English language and literature classroom or reading the books for Tragedy special paper in M.A. or father N.C.Daruwalla is giving lessons in. The professor condoles it not, but Daruwalla thinking himself not as an Indian Police Service officer, but as a professor of English and that too of Greek and Shakespearean tragedies take it for a moment. What can he know of to whom the tragedy takes place which but Daruwalla cannot feel it? A tragedy is a tragedy. The family to which it occurs knows it how the loss, sorrow befalling. A passer-by, by-stander cannot feel it. Tragedy, accident, death and disease, how to describe them? We do not have any words to express them. A policeman will just tell it a mishap in terms of law and order; an army man as casualties. So again repeat to emphasize upon, a tragedy is a tragedy. Tragedy has the ingredients of own. Accident too is so; its causes cannot be explained.

It is also sometimes true we think over and over, how did it happen? Why had it to take place? What were the causes of it? How the situations? Who were there as witnesses? How to gather the evidence? Whose fault was it? Whose mistake? Why had it to take place?

Was it in destiny? Was it lotted? Has been truly said, what it is lotted that cannot be blotted. Human destiny, what to say about it? Nothing known, the paths of life lie it in the dark, where to lead to.

Is man helpless before? Lot and situations? Was it writ before or is it situational? This is the thing to be reckoned with.

Man is a puppet into the hands of Destiny, they say it and we peruse it. Thomas Hardy opined it, also added to it that happiness is but a bubble in man’s life. So said the great then how to contradict their statements? And if Daruwalla too says this then too we shall take into confidence.

Let us be going, take to discussion what it has happened. An accident. An eleven-year boy run over by a car is the scene of the incident and Daruwalla talking to the brother of the dead boy and thinking about and giving lectures to as gave he the geography department retired teacher of Nissim in stitched English, we mean added, tagged and made English. Daruwalla too here is using the archaic words to enrich his phraseology and syntax to show he knows English. But the reality is his English too appears to be bombastic and verbose, archaic and alien, close to Iranian, Persian English. A Parsi and that too from Lahore, he too is in search of his persona, protagonist, mouthpiece, spokesman, the quest for identity definitely claws for, whatever say we about his Indian themes and Indianness.

After hearing about the tragedy from his brother, the professor says that he is not merely sorry to hear it, but it is terribly unfortunate too. He is really very, very sorry to hear about the mishap. There are no words to describe sorrow, affliction. But what to be done? The professor quotes some words from Anouilh’s expression. In his opinion, tragedy is clean, flawless, restful. But this is an accident, a situation unwanted and unnecessary. The flaw is not of character, but the error of judgement, a depravity of situation. There is nothing as to talk of the design of the tragedy or air solemn to tell of the impending disaster or misfortune.

He does not understand why an accident takes place. Whenever it happens, he tries to take a look at him. People gather around, blood keeps clotting on the roads. But tragedy is something different. It has the aesthetic layer of its own. The catastrophe must have a specific reference. He can imagine his feeling under what situation he is, what it is going in. Yes, yes, of course, he was a brother. There was no sin, no guilt, no hubris, no hamartia, but he had to pay for with his life. Tragedy is itself a culture. The professor means to say that it has become a culture now-a-days.

Thereafter the discussion shifts to the analysis of catharsis, hubris and hamartia. What is tragedy? What the elements of it which but the scout and traffic guides and machinists will say about now-a-days if Daruwalla has to be answered?

We do not understand it whether Daruwalla is saying in the guise of a professor or not. An M.A. in English but a police officer by profession, ruminating over his studies is the thing of our deliberation. All these things are but a routine affair for a policeman. They have nothing to repent or complain over. Here he is taking it for the sake of his poetry. There is nothing to be sentimental. Verses come to Darfuwalla as the bombastic, archaic, verbose and monologued stanzas. Daruwalla is a gunman, a Parsiman of Indian English poetry and his is a Parsi view of life. Daruwalla is quite unemotional too. Sentiment, emotion, feeling, mean it not. The heart is not the centre of his creativity, the brain is all and he labours for and struggles too for expression while taking stock of words. One who is reading him for the first time may not like him as for different spaces, Iranian, Arabic, Persian and so on apart from being Indian, drawing from the U.P. and its society, trend and tradition.

Nissim Ezekiel’s The Professor is a different one when compared with that of Keki N.Daruwalla’s The Professor Condoles. If the former is a caricature of the non-English departmental teachers with a base in their vernacular, somehow just carrying with English the latter is an Indian professor of English trying to go through Aristotle’s Poetics with regard to tragedy and its literary terms as for his study and expertise.

His style of starting the poem too is excellent, just modeled on a narrative format or dramatic enough to say it. The dramatic monologue suits it best. The poet has tagged the literary terms to turn the materials into an essay on tragedy.

If one goes through The Professor Condoles, we are sure of it that the discussion will turn one into a master of tragedies, the causes and elements of it, trying to understand it from every angle of study, palmistry, astrology, astrology, gemology and so on. That too is not complete. He will like to visit the hospitals to see the hands of the victims as Cheiro did or retaking lessons in prophecies and predictions as did Nostrodamus. Even the birds will tell about foreboding evil. The black owls, the cats and the lizards too will have a say in them.

Daruwalla after reading the poem it appears is a reader of Shakespearean tragedies, but classical tragedies, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Seneca and so on. So it is advisable to visit the fortune teller sitting with the card-picking pink-necked parrot in the cage and the man in dhoti and kurta before reading The Professor Condoles of Keki N.Daruwalla.

The whole poem appears to be a discourse on tragedy neither Shakespearean nor Galsworthyian, but Hardyian and Shawian. Had it been the Indian, we would have talked of karma and dharma, papa and punya, going by the records of Dharmaraja, the King of Religion, the Calculating Divine, the Upkeeper of Piety, the Registrar, the Record-keeper. Such a thing after the scorpion bite the masses gathered there discussed it in Nissim Ezekiel’s Night of the Scorpion giving lessons in Indian karma-dharma, papa-punya and their calculation, pluses and minuses balancing it which but was his seasoning with the question of Indianness put with regard to his quest for identity. But Daruwalla is a hard-hearted fellow using bombastic words to comprehend his notion of tragedy. Perhaps the law books he is feeling as for the rules and regulations. The accident itself contains in the elements of mishap.

Why does a mishap take place? Who can but say it? Even Daruwalla will not be able to answer it though he engages us in a discussion for which we seem to be partakers of that. There is nothing tragic than an accident. No tragedy can be a substitute for a real tragedy. Daruwalla’s heart is an Iranian heart, his myths heterogeneous.

We read Daruwalla not to be entertained, but to be taxed and laden. Daruwalla is but a poet curfew, bloodshed, death, disease and disaster. Cholera, typhoid, small pox, dengue, these are his code words. The tiger, the jackal, the fox, the wolf, the hyena, the protagonists of his poetry. Daruwalla is but Jim Corbett and Ted Hughes incarnated, the duke of Robert Browning’s The Duchess of Malfi.

As far as this poem is concerned, the professorly style of giving lectures, but following it not oneself is excellent when he keeps delivering with the words “Do you follow?” and the taught listening to him what he says, keeps hearing, contradicts it not.

The small boy’s fault was it not, but the car driver and this too cannot be ascertained. What can one about man and machines, times and situations? Who erred, whose flaw, how to say these?

As a poet he is Brechtian. The gun speaks the language of his poetry and poetry oozes out as the blood clots going out. Daruwalla is the most unsentimental of the modern Indian English poets. A hard-hearted poet, he is introspective, dramatic and peculiarly lyrical. The curtal rhythm speaks in his poetry, the thud adds to his sobriety.

Aug 23, 2016

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore
Bijay Kant Dubey

Where the mind is without fear and the
head is held high;
  Where knowledge is free;
  Where the world has not been broken
up into fragments by narrow domestic
  Where words come out from the depth
of truth;
  Where tireless striving stretches its arms
towards perfection;
  Where the clear stream of reason has
not lost its way into the dreary desert
sand of dead habit;
  Where the mind is led forward by
thee into ever-widening thought and
  Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake.

Where The Mind Is Without Fear or call it Heaven of Freedom is one the lyrics taken from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, Song  Offerings written in 1910 and collected from different Bengali works of his own and thereafter translated by him or in consultation with others. We all know it that the work Gitanjali for which he got the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 with a nice Introduction by William Butler Yeats which but served as a greater recommendation too at the same time as well as an admirable piece of criticism on him is a devotional work reminding us of the bhakti-tradition of yore which still does the rounds. Even Indira Gandhi too used to love this poem as Nehru Robert Frost’s Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening. Whatever be that, almost all the poems written and included in Gitanjali are in the form of prayer reflective of our age-old tradition of submitting to the Divine. Here the prayer is to deliver from the shackles of bondage, is to liberate the self from the yoke which it hinges upon. The desire of being free from is the inherent thought and idea of the poem.

The poet dreams of a heaven of freedom where there will be no suffocation of thought, no outward influence exerted upon or unnecessary pressure given. There will be co-ordination between what we say, what we do, between our karma and dharma, what we dream, what we execute or put into reality. Words will come out of the depths of truth. A world free from anxiety and dismemberment, he envisages here in this poem. If the situation is devastating and distraught, how will peace come to? The things quintessential of world citizenship, internationalism, humanism and liberalism have been incorporated in to add to poetic verve and strength. Without being a world citizen, how can one dream of? None but a humanist of the first order can write in such a way.

The mind will be free from fear and the head will hold high. Where knowledge is free and imparted to all, where there is no restriction in getting it freely, he thinks of that land and the imagery connected with. If knowledge is not free, things will not be achieved and ignorance will mar it everything. Knowledge opens our eyes, broadens our world-view of life, widening its spectrum and range of delving. Knowledge is power. Education is light. If light is not shown to all, how will the countrymen prosper? They will languish and lag behind in darkness. Lead us from darkness to light, is the Upanishadic thing to be felt here. Satyameva jayate, truth only prevails lies it inscribed on the Ashokan pillars.

If narrow domestic walls keep damaging the spirit of the nation, its unity, solidarity and integrity then how to think of its unification, the confederation in totality? Fissiparous tendencies must be checked. The people will have to be united and nationalistic if they want to achieve freedom or free atmosphere, but to be a nationalist is not to be a hater of man and others. In nationalism lies it the understanding of internationalism, universal love and brotherhood. If the wars continue to wreak havoc, can peace be attained? The narrow walls which divide humanity should not be encouraged and entertained. The narrow will remain narrow if they want it not to widen their horizon of thinking. Broad-mindedness is the need of the hour. The world needs a humanist, a thinker who can at least think about it, the betterment of our human society.

The poet says that we must always stretch our arms towards perfection. We cannot be perfect if we devote not our heart and soul, if we labour not wholeheartedly for attaining it. So, what to be done for perfection? We need to be karmayogis. We need to be activists. Our thought and action have to be inconsonance with each other. Our karma is dharma. What we do, we shall be accountable for that. There should not be any gap in between what we do and what we dream. There must be a co-ordination in between the two. Work is worship should be our ideal. Service to man is service to God should be our philosophy of life without any discrimination on any ground, be that racial, ethnic or any divisive prejudice or reckoning. We should not stick to any narrow thinking. To be of a narrow mentality is not good for any healthy thinking.

Apart from good idea and thought, reasoning is a must for constructive thinking and developmental works. If the world is to be reconstructed and rebuilt, it will require a lot of logical idea and thinking free from medievalist and superstitious thoughts. We have to be logical and reasonable. Logic gives the power to reason, debate and discuss as we cannot accept it all blindly, adhering to conventional things. Tennyson has rightly said it, ‘The old order changeth yielding place to new.’ Things need to be explained in the right perspective. Reasoning widens our faculty. If we fail to reason or have no right to question and ask then fatalism, soothsaying, hocus-pocus and inaction will take over and our reasoning faculty will die and dry down ultimately. So, what we must be doing is this that we should keep the clear stream of reason flowing, without obstructing its natural flow. If the clear stream of reasoning flows and falls into the desert sand of dead habits then the rivulet will lose its existence. So the dead thoughts and habits must be discouraged and abandoned if society has to develop.

Our mind should be led forward by Him, the Lord-God of all, into an ever-widening horizon of thought and action.  If our thought and action are co-ordinated nothing can hamper the development of the country. Who can better lead than Lord-God if He leads us not? He is the Creator, the Destroyer. Everything is but into the hands of His. Let us approach Him with utmost humility.

Into that heaven of freedom, the poet prays to let it be aroused, into that spirit of freeness, let us awake and arise from our slumber. Though the poem has not been titled, the first line serves as the right title for it. Some pick up the last line words to tile it as Heaven of Freedom which is but an ideal concept of the poet who thinks of the liberation and freedom of India as per the ideal lines. The poem is inclusive of the ingredients and kernels of the karma-marga, the gnan-marga and the bhakti-marga as mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita. In a prayerful tone of own, he thinks of the linkage of action with knowledge. Where The Mind Is Without Fear is a song of karma and of dharma and we need to be karmayogins if we really want to reconstruct and rebuild. For it we need ideas and thoughts; our dreams need to be converted into reality. The Over Soul, the Over Mind whatever call we helps those who help themselves. With God in our hearts, we must keep doing and dispensing with. Inner spectrum needs to be widened in consonance with our vision and mission.

In Bengali it is actually Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo transcreated or rendered into English as Where The Mind Is Without Fear, one among the series of poems unified into a whole). The poem seems to have been written in 1900 and was included in Naivedya collection titled as Prarthona. Tagore himself once titled it Indian Prayer. Whatever be that story of making or unmaking of the draft, the poem definitely awakens and arouses us from deep slumber of inaction to a dawn of new thinking and light.

Aug 18, 2016

Silent Steps

Silent Steps by Rabindranath Tagore
Bijay Kant Dubey 

Have you not heard his silent steps? He
comes, comes, ever comes.
  Every moment and every age, every day
and every night he comes, comes, ever
  Many a song have I sung in many a
mood of mind, but all their notes have
always proclaimed, `He comes, comes,
ever comes.'
  In the fragrant days of sunny April
through the forest path he comes,
comes, ever comes.
  In the rainy gloom of July nights on
the thundering chariot of clouds he comes,
comes, ever comes.
  In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps
that press upon my heart, and it is the
golden touch of his feet that makes my
joy to shine.

Silent Steps is one the most lyrical poems of Rabindranath Tagore included in Gitanjali for which he receives the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. What it is remarkable in the poem is the devotional intensity of feeling and the mood of surrender seconded by an inner desire to merge into the Supreme Soul, the Greater Self. Rarely do we come across such a feeling of self-surrender as it is here in Gitanjali, a sublime work of an illuminated mind and soul which he has inherited archetypally. Waiting for Godot not, waiting for the Divine and its realization is the central theme of the poem and above all is the music of the line, the rhythm of thought and idea and reflection, He comes, comes, ever comes, repeatedly adding to the alliterative beauty of the poem. Three seasons, summer, spring and rainy have been referred to as to stress upon the coming. In Indian philosophy, especially in classical love poetry, where the element of devotion is so strong, God has been envisaged as friend, brother, sister, mother and father. God is the guest, maker of fate and destiny, God the boatman sailing away the boat of life in the midstream. All joys and sorrows are the things of His. Such a thing one says it in every household during the seventh day of the Durga Puja when it is said She comes to visit the world. Even in one of his poems, Aurobindo while dwelling upon sadhna and its experiences refers to the passing of a supernatural figure.

The poet enquires about if the steps of His coming have been marked or not. His presence is everywhere in this universe. The whole universe, cosmos is the creation of His and nothing as hidden from His eyes. He comes, comes, ever comes. Every moment and every age, every night and day, He comes, comes, ever comes. The whole world is resonant with His steps.

Many a song he has sung in many a mood of mind, but all their notes have proclaimed, thudded with the rhythm of His ever coming and ever going. He comes, comes, and ever comes. When does He not? The world is vibrant with His coming and going.

In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path, He comes, comes, and ever comes. Actually during the sunny days of April, leaves come out and flowers hang by though the sun may be strong. The imprint of spring may be marked.

In the rainy loom of July nights, He comes, comes, ever comes on the thundering chariot of  clouds. In the months of Shravana, it drizzles, downpours, thunders and rains and the sky overcast with floating clouds looks pleasant. Especially the hanging  clouds look enjoyable.

In sorrow after sorrow it is the Divine Steps which press upon his heart. It is the golden touch of His feet which makes his joy to shine. Joy is His, sorrow is His, everything but the creation of the Almighty, the One Omnipresent, Omniscient. In the world of day to day affairs, the trivial and trivia of it, we almost forget Him. We try to remember Him only in the times of sorrow, this is how Kabirdas says in one of his dohas.  Mirabai got enlightenment when she saw Him through the pains and aches of her heart, saying her all to Lord-God. Such a thing George Herbert says it when he mentions that this heart is the temple of God wherein He dwells in.

Silent Steps is a song of Divine illumination. Here the bhakti-tradition can be traced back from the days of Rashkhan, Jayasi, Mirabai, Tulsidas, Vidyapati, Surdas and so on. The influence of Vaishanavism hangs heavy over the poet and he is under it no doubt. The Indian thought and content is almost the same. India the land of saints and singers flashes upon the mind’s eye as and when we read this poem.

Only these have been recast into a new garb. The poems may be new to the West, but it is actually the same handed down from generation to generation, age to age. The poet as a singer of heart is the cardinal aspect of this poem. The aesthetic quality too is quite admirable and is sensuous too. The lyrical flow is noticeable. As the poem has not been titled, so it may be called, ‘Have You Not Heard His silent Steps?’ too. When does He come to? In every atom is God, the whole creation is His. Such a  thing it is there in G.M.Hopkins’ Pied Beauty and God’s Grandeur. To find its answer, we may turn to Kabirdas with the the things as such, where do you search me, I am near you. What it needs to referred to in this context is this that Tagore himself has translated the poems of Kabirdas.

Aug 13, 2016

Goodbye Party For Miss Pushpa T.S.

Goodbye Party For Miss Pushpa T.S. by Nissim Ezekiel
Bijay Kant Dubey

A lover of Pushpa here speaks in as the protagonist of the poem and he is none the else but the poet Nissim Ezekiel himself unable to contain in the feelings of his heart, expressing the unputdownable on paper. Let us see how he is receiving or taking her to the airport as for going to foreign and Pushpa a distant acquaintance of his relative taking tips from a London returnee. As an announcer the poet starts the poem, friends, ladies and gentlemen, our dear sister Pushpa is going to foreign in two to three days, wish her Godspeed, have a nice journey.

Addressing the friends, the poet says it we all know it how sweet is Miss Pushpa, what sweetness is it her, we do not mean to say only external, internal sweetness in her and lo, hearing it, Pushpa is smiling and smiling. Perhaps Nissim too is smiling, saying and smiling. He is chuckling from his within.

Pushpa is from a very high family as we know it. Her father is an advocate which he fails to remember it now. But he knows it not exactly, seems to have forgotten.

Pushpa has never known to say no. She accepts it all whatever say you to do she will do it without minding it. Nissim knows it how to make one climb up the tree. One can feel it in the praise he is doing.

It is neither a birthday party nor a farewell party, but a goodbye party slotted for Miss Pushpa, a Gujaratgi girl leaving for foreign, but for what purpose we know it not, as can’t say all about the hushed matter of Nissim. Nisiim is a very cunning and crafty fellow as suppresses he the love story of his life. Who is this Pushpa says he not, keeps us in the dark, saying this or that. Who she is? How has he come to know? Where is she now? A sister or just an acquaintance of his relative? Who will say it on Nissim’s behalf searching his dead letters?

Miss Pushpa is but the ironical Lucy Gray of Nissim Ezekiel whose identity know we not, can never reveal it to. As ask we out of curiosity, who Lucy was so is the case with, who Miss Pushpa T.S. is ?

Lastly, the speaker asks other members to say something, but what do they know more of Pushpa? Nissim actually even though may be an Indian Maharashtrian Jew is trying to express like a convent boy arranging the showy goodbye party in emulation of the British natives. Pushpa will sum up finally when everybody says it.

Nissim’s modernity lies it in saying please and thank you, see you, hi-hello, goodbye; bidding good morning, good evening, good night. He likes to say, nice to meet you, hello, how are you, love you, hi, see you. The cinema hall, the library, the theatre, the party, the park, etc. are the things of his stock.

our dear sister
is departing for foreign
in two three days,
we are meeting today
to wish her bon voyage.

You are all knowing, friends,
What sweetness is in Miss Pushpa.
I don't mean only external sweetness
but internal sweetness.
Miss Pushpa is smiling and smiling
even for no reason but simply because
she is feeling.

Miss Pushpa is coming
from very high family.
Her father was renowned advocate
in Bulsar or Surat,
I am not remembering now which place.

Surat? Ah, yes,
once only I stayed in Surat
with family members
of my uncle's very old friend-
his wife was cooking nicely…
that was long time ago.

Coming back to Miss Pushpa
she is most popular lady
with men also and ladies also.

Whenever I asked her to do anything,
she was saying, 'Just now only
I will do it.' That is showing
good spirit. I am always
appreciating the good spirit.

Pushpa Miss is never saying no.
Whatever I or anybody is asking
she is always saying yes,
and today she is going
to improve her prospect
and we are wishing her bon voyage.
Now I ask other speakers to speak
and afterwards Miss Pushpa
will do summing up.

People say it that Nissim herein is mocking at the use of English which the Indian use and apply in speaking. It is but a Gujarati girl’s Gujarati English he is mocking which but the convent boys and girls do it everywhere in India. Nissim’s fun and cleverness everyone knows it, can understand it how he befools, outwits others. To keep the readers in doubt and suspense is the job of the poet.

The poem though written in praise of Pushpa and the goodbye party given to her is but a deviation from the central theme and hinges towards faulty English, our weak sentence construction, unknown use of words and poor word-stock. Nissim, you accept it or not, keeps the comments secret.

Nissim though writes with clarity is but a simple English using writer. His English too is one like that of his geopgraphy department professor friend’s and Pushpa’s though she has listened to it all, has not said anything else in response and instead of it, Nissim is caricaturing her, showing his convent-school learnt English, a boy in ironed shorts and shirt and polished boots and necktie going to school and returning back with the sweet words of courtesy, manner and etiquette.

Aug 8, 2016

Background, Casually by Nissim Ezekiel

Background, Casually by Nissim Ezekiel
Bijay Kant Dubey

Background casually, not seriously, but lightly is the point of deliberation; the autobiography of a poet rascal in verse, who is but never a Shylock though may be a Maharashtrian Jew born and reared up in Bombay; a Shanwar Teli, a type of Saturday oil-presser by caste, this is but how he introduces himself in the poem titled so. Had he been an announcer, it would have been great. The poem is a caricature of his own. He is regaling here and hilarious enough to be put in words. To crack jokes, recreate humour, laugh and smile, chuckle and comment is his job. Taking recourse to the ironic mode, he often plays with dual meaning. Irony, comics and tonal presentations are the features of his poetry.

A poet rascal clown was born luckily, into the family of a science department professor figuring in Night of the Scorpion, destined to be a poet, an arts faculty boy ready for getting his education in England, going like Parthasarathy and Jussawalla and returning back to like them, feeling the identity crisis and putting it down on return journey back home. The child who used to brag and nag from taking food, one of meager bone was he initially who never learnt to fly a kite, but used to borrow the tops as for rotating, spinning.

The poet as a schoolboy went to Roman Catholic school, a mugging Jew among the wolves he thought of himself, not at that time, but during the writing of the poem he thought of and recollected it himself. Even then they used to tell him that he killed Christ, but that year he got the prize. A Muslim sportman boxed his years.

A boy in the presence of the undernourished strong Hindu lads, he used to feel terror-stricken, who but spelled the prepositions wrongly. After being repelled by passivity, he thought of going tough, even could have taken out a knife.

On Friday nights during the prayer time, he could never say the prayers held in strong faith and belief as lay deviating and digressing from. He had not been so much devout and holy enough. His morals had quite declined by then and side by side he had also heard of Yoga and Zen. Though he intended to be, but could never a Rabbi. The more he searched the less he found.

Thereafter the time came as for moving overseas, going to foreign. Perhaps a friend helped him pay the fare. In London it was difficult to sustain oneself. Poverty, philosophy and poetry seemed to be the three basement friends.

The London years passed by all alone and he spent it singly. Though could have, but took to not to his liking to be brought home. His affair with an English girl failed it or might be it he could not succeed in. Here Nissim hides in the fact, suppressing and curtailing it to be divulged, a top secret which his father could have. But we cannot believe it, one will go to England and will not have a rendezvous, déjà vu, face to face, vis-a-vis, tete-a-tete with a beautiful English blonde, belle, this cannot be, cannot be. Nissim too fell in love, loved her and left marking the futility of relationship. This we could guess from, presume about. Nissim does not make it clear who that goggleswalli; prem-pujaran is in reality.

Again he lay returning back strugglingly on the ship doing even the menial work to be back home. The homecoming thoughts overpowered him and he longed for after a sojourn. The final line of Enterprise strikes us, Home is where we gather grace.

The poet returned to the place wherefrom was he, back to Bombay. The family had the same opinion about the Hindus which his father held about and believed in. Speaking loudly and knocking at the door with a bang, they never liked it. But with it there came the marriage proposal, the negotiations doing the rounds and Nissim readying himself for seeing the face and being glued to the bride as he says in the poem Marriage.

He prepared not for the worst, but for marriage, assignment and his positioning. Marriage worked as a catalyst and with it the plane of dream and imagination with great flying aspirations came down it striking the ground.

Nissim as a lover is a failed romantic, he proposes, but keeps it not up the words of promise. The oath of love keeps it not up. He likes to write love letters, but not to his liking.

He will stay where he is, where his home is even though it is backward and remote. There is nothing as that gives so much of being at home. Nissim is a failed romantic, a failed lover, but an interesting ironist no doubt whose sleight of hand is his ironic mode and who is but the uncrowned master of art. Rarely a poet has mastered which is his feat and forte.

Nissim overcame his alienation, days of exile, frustration, anguish after homecoming, striking the chords of nativity, going for another innings, marriage, professional assignment and other likely things so on. The quest for identity which he felt it earlier malign it not his self later on as he found comfort, ease and grace in being here, not overseas. Though he wished to be, but Israel too could not snap his emotional ties.

A Jew in the midst of the Hindus, the Muslims and the Christians he was initially, but not the Buddhists, the Jains, the Parsis, perhaps he forgot to include them in this drama of his life. A lean and thin bony boy he was at that time going to school as the one mentioned in Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man.

Thereafter the same Jew moved to England, took to the things not, returned back to settle and take up an assignment. Comics, laughter, irony, fun and humour add to the poem just like the spices and the bits of salt given.


A poet-rascal-clown was born,
The frightened child who would not eat
Or sleep, a boy of meagre bone.
He never learnt to fly a kite,
His borrowed top refused to spin.

I went to Roman Catholic school,
A mugging Jew among the wolves.
They told me I had killed the Christ,
That year I won the scripture prize.
A Muslim sportsman boxed my ears.

I grew in terror of the strong
But undernourished Hindu lads,
Their prepositions always wrong,
Repelled me by passivity.
One noisy day I used a knife.

At home on Friday nights the prayers
Were said. My morals had declined,
I heard of Yoga and of Zen.
Could I, perhaps, be rabbi-saint?
The more I searched, the less I found

Twenty-two: time to go abroad.
First, the decision, then a friend
To pay the fare. Philosophy,
Poverty and Poetry, three
Companions shared my basement room.


The London seasons passed me by.
I lay in bed two years alone,
And then a Woman came to tell
My willing ears I was the Son
Of Man. I knew that I had failed

In everything, a bitter thought.
So, in an English cargo-ship
Taking French guns and mortar shells
To Indo-China, scrubbed the decks,
And learned to laugh again at home.

How to feel it home, was the point
Some reading had been done, but what
Had I observed, except my own
Exasperation? All Hindus are
Like that, my father used to say,

When someone talked too loudly, or
Knocked at the door like the Devil.
They hawked and spat. They sprawled around.
I prepared for the worst. Married,
Changed jobs, and saw myself a fool.

The song of my experience sung,
I knew that all was yet to sing.
My ancestors, among the castes,
Were aliens crushing seed for bread
(The hooded bullock made his rounds)


One among them fought and taught,
A Major bearing British arms.
He told my father sad stories
Of the Boer War. I dreamed that
Fierce men had bound my feet and hands.

The later dreams were all of words.
I did not know that words betray
But let the poems come, and lost
That grip on things the worldly prize.
I would not suffer that again.

I look about me now, and try
To formulate a plainer view:
The wise survive and serve to play
The fool, to cash in on
The inner and the outer storms.

The Indian landscape sears my eyes.
I have become a part of it
To be observed by foreigners.
They say that I am singular,
Their letters overstate the case.

I have made my commitments now.
This is one: to stay where I am,
As others choose to give themselves
In some remote and backward place.
My backward place is where I am.

After coming back from England, now his heart wants it not to go anywhere. This is his land of birth and schooling; his karma and dharma. Where to move away? He feels within. The ancestral, paternal link can never be shaken off. He has become an indivisible part of it.

A background casually not, seriously too not, but lightly, jokingly is the point of our rehearsal. Poet Nissim is in the theatre of poetry and is rehearsing the drama of his life just as a convent boy does. None but he himself is introducing and none but he himself is admiring with claps and bravos and well-dones. Nissim the showman, the artiste is the thing, just a disco jockey not, but as a hotelier, a hosteller he is introducing.

A poet rascal, bloody-bastard, tomnoddy, idiot, how silly, whatever he knows he is using to start the poem and this is but convent style of gossiping, joking, introducing oneself which but Nissim is following. As after the break the convent school boys and girls in ironed shirts and shorts and canvas shoes come out with the badges, looking modern, smart, frank and bold, talking and gossiping., bidding hi-hello, bye-bye, see you so is the case here with Nissim. Nissim is trying to speak in English, thinking himself an Englishman, but with whom to talk and joke in India if the circle is not like-minded?

Let see what the poet rascal is saying, who the poet rascal abusing himself?  This is just a technique of introducing oneself in a comical style whose master is he definitely as he knows the art as how to recreate and do the jokes. The word means a cruel or annoying fellow. It also means  a mean, unprincipled, or dishonest person; a mischievous person or animal. After reading the poem, we feel it within to look up the words stupid, silly, idiot and so on in the dictionary used in sentences. The word stupid means lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind, dull, inane, pointless, silly, unwise, showing poor judgement or little intelligence.

When the poet says that he has some commitments to make, he makes us remind of Robert Frost and his lines relating to the dark and deep woods and the miles to go and that he has some duty and obligation to fulfill as he is committed to his family, society and the nation before he goes away finally.

When he talks about his family and the setting of their foot on India and one from his them participating in the Boer War, the context reminds us of the shipwrecked brothers of H.W.Longfellow’s A Psalm of Life.

The jokes of the convent boys he recreates and regales them, the talks, gossips and tidbits of the going to be Englishmen in India to our amazement and astonishment, how could the Europeans be on Indian soil.

This is his introduction by the way, just by the way which he wished to introduce, none but he himself telling about his identity, race, ethnicity and tradition and coping up in the midst of multi-lingualism and culturalism.

Background, Casually is a poem of race, ethnicity and family background, personal, confessional and anecdotal, dramatic, ironic, poetic and philosophical. Herein lies it the philosophy of life; the poetic narration of the self, the personal. A master poet of the ironic mode he caricatures, jokes and comments upon the ways of life and the world seen through personally. A Jewish persona lived and brought up in India he tells of the shipwrecks and the missing links. One of his uncles went to participate in the Boer War who told about the sad stories of war. His forefathers used to press oil and the hooded bullocks used were used in to extract it.

Let the people call it a backward place if it is, but he as a man has many commitments to execute from here. The place where he is now is it all. He belongs to it and has nowhere to go. The casual and clownish background is interesting indeed, rarely has been given in such a way he is giving. The wise make placed in different situations of life may even play the fool to study the inner and outer storms which is but a type of introspection. The song of experience tells him that where to move out, this is but India where lived the ancestors or yours.

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