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.