Nissim Ezekiel is one of those Indian poets writing in English who creates an authentic flavor of India, by his use of Indian English - Pidgin English on Bazar English, as it is often called. In this poem, the Indian flavor has been created by stressing the various mistakes which Indians commit in their use of English, by bringing in the hopes and aspirations of free India, and also the attitudes of her two hostile neighbors, China and Pakistan.
Poetic Inspiration for the Poem:
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 know or realise that thousands of Indians speak what can only be called Indian English, So from that time in all his train journeys from Mithibai College back home, he started to take some interest in the way English was being spoken on the train. Every time he heard an obvious Indian English phrase like, "I'm not knowing only." he would take it down. When he had about a thousand of these, he thought of creating this present poem.
The Indian Living Conditions:
Ezekiel presents that the new generation is going after 'fashion and foreign things.' He presents the typical Indian make - up. The Indian living conditions are sought to be portrayed. The India of yester years is no longer to be seen here, as modernization and industrialization have speeded up the process of change.
The regrettable thing in the modern world is the act of violence and anti – social tendencies proving to be a menace. Still the positive aspects like regeneration, remuneration and contraception could be thought of as a way out of the present muddle. One can certainly hope for the better and propagate the best that is thought as unique.
Ancient Indian Wisdom:
In the second stanza, the readers get a peep into things - Indians as Gandhi's heir, he would opt for peace and non - violence. He is puzzled why others are not following Gandhi's advice - while in this estimate, the ancient Indian wisdom is correct, contrastively the modern generation takes it to whatever is western and fashionable - like other Indians, he too has to improve his English language. The student interest and petty agitations make him feel sickening line Antony's appeal to the Roman mob, he will call upon the fellow citizens to think of the past masters.
Thus in the third stanza, he pronounces, In order to get away from that which is disgusting, he wants to have a cup of lassi which is very good for digestion. It can be taken as equivalent to the western wine if only a little salt is added to make it a lovely drink. The poet confesses that he is the total abstainer from drinks while it is taken by addicts to gunch themselves, he for his part would turn to simple drinks like lassi. Thus, the poet tries to receive the old Gandhian days.
The World Situation Today:
In the fourth stanza, the poet is able to think aloud and offer his comments on the world situation today. The present conditions all over the world speak of a bad trend that give an edge to the production of dangerous weapons and try to be superior to others. The countries of the world often tie with each other in keeping themselves ahead of others in this mad competitive world. This retrace often leads to conflicts resulting in loss of precious human lives. If only one considers the other as the brother; the trend could be changed.
Unity in Diversity:
India is a land where the principle of 'unity in Diversity' is practiced. Here many communities live together even though there are some problems. This ideal situation in which one Co-exists with the other is described as Ram Rajya by the poet. He gives the hand of friendliness to the visitor and expects him to come again. The poet is optimistic when he says that he enjoys every moment of good company. So, he ends the poem by saying that he does not feel the necessity of celebrating ceremonies.
Common Mistakes ‘highlighted’ in the Poem:
Substrate influence on grammar is quite common. It is often frowned upon as "wrong", but eventually becomes a regular part of the new language variant. "The Patriot" contains a number of Indian English examples: the reduplication of verbs in "fighting fighting", the lack of indefinite and definite articles in "threw stone at Indirabehn" and "all people of world", the use of one instead of the indefinite article a in "one glass lassi", the excessive use of the definite article the in "not that I am ever tasting the wine", the excessive use of the continuous tense (the -ing form) in "I am standing for peace and non-violence", the omission of an obligatory object pronoun in "modern generation is neglecting" (instead of "neglecting this") etc. Again, this is a satirical poem rather than a genuine example of Indian English, but the phenomena exemplified are genuine enough.
Nissim Ezekiel occupies a unique position among Indo-Anglian poets of post-Independence era. Nissim opposed the idealism and romanticism of the earlier group of Indian writers in English, and tried to look at any typical Indian situation with an Indian attitude, with a novel and dynamic Indian insight. He cleverly manipulated Indian English to bring out the Indian worldview.
Thus Ezekiel uses 'Indian English,' or 'Babu Angrezi' in his poetry to depict the characteristics of Indian attitude. He used irony as a weapon to depict the characteristic features of Indian attitude.
The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel: About the poem
The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel is particularly remarkable for its depiction of Indianness in a satirical tone.
The poem is written in very simple language and in prose-poem style. No particular metre or rhyme scheme has been followed in writing the poem The Professor.
The poem The Professor can be classified as a dramatic monologue. In its abrupt beginning, one-way conversation and the presence of a silent listener, The Professor qualifies the basic requirements of a monologue.
The Professor: Line by line Explanation
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.
The poem begins with the professor’s question: “Remember me?” Then he himself gives the identity that he is Professor Sheth. It is clear from his speech that he is talking to one of his past students whom he taught geography. He goes on to tell his student that he is now retired but his health is still good at this age. He also mentions that his wife is no more.
By God’s grace, all my children
Are well settled in life.
One is Sales Manager,
One is Bank Manager,
Both have cars.
The professor is thankful to God that all his children are well-established in their life. One of his sons is a Bank Manager, and another one is a Sales Manager. Both his sons own cars.
Other also doing well, though not so well.
Every family must have black sheep.
He now talks about his third son who is not doing so well as the other two. He regards him as the ‘black sheep’ of the family. “Black sheep” here means that the son is probably immoral, unprofessional and somewhat reckless. Even then, the professor protects his son by saying that every family generally has such a member.
Sarala and Tarala are married,
Their husbands are very nice boys.
Now it is his daughters’ turn. Professor Sheth says that his two daughters Sarala and Tarala are married to good husbands. They are ‘very nice boys’ according to him.
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.
The professor also proudly declares the unbelievable fact that he has eleven grandchildren. And for the first time, he now gives his student a chance to speak. He asks his student how many issues he has. It seems that the professor is mocking at his student on hearing that he has only three children. He also assures his student that this is not so bad. Nowadays people are more conscious about family planning. And he is not against family planning. He accepts the change that time brings.
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.
The professor now speaks of the changes that the whole world is facing. He feels that the Indians are also keeping up with the change. We are progressing with time. Old conceptions are going and new ideas are coming. Everything is changing at a fast pace.
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.
Now the professor says that he rarely goes out, as he is a retire person. This is also due to the old age that he can no longer walk or travel much. But he is proud that he is keeping good health with only occasional aches and pain. He has no diabetes, no blood pressure, and no heart attack.
This is because of sound habits in youth.
How is your health keeping?
Nicely? I am happy for that.
The professor continues to speak of his health. He is still keeping his good health because of his good habits in youth. He then asks the student about his health and he is happy to hear that he is keeping it up well.
This year I am sixty-nine
and hope to score a century.
Mr. Sheth then talks about his age. He is sixty-nine years old now, and hope to live for a hundred years.
You were so thin, like stick,
Now you are man of weight and consequence.
That is good joke.
Now, the professor reminds the student that he was so thin, comparing him to a stick. But now he (the student) has gained some weight and power. The professor perhaps indicates the social position of the student, as well as his physical growth. And he also mentions that it is a good joke, in case the student doesn’t get it properly.
If you are coming again this side by chance,
Visit please my humble residence also.
I am living just on opposite house’s backside.
In these lines the professor requests his student to visit his residence if he comes this way again in future. He also tries to point out the location of his house, that is, the back side of the house on the opposite side of the road.