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The Patriot -- Nissim Ezekiel

Guest poem submitted by Suresh Ramasubramanian:
(Poem #516) The Patriot
 I am standing for peace and non-violence.
 Why world is fighting fighting
 Why all people of world
 Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
 I am simply not understanding.
 Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct,
 I should say even 200% correct,
 But modern generation is neglecting-
 Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.

 Other day I'm reading newspaper
 (Every day I'm reading Times of India
 To improve my English Language)
 How one goonda fellow
 Threw stone at Indirabehn.
 Must be student unrest fellow, I am thinking.
 Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am saying (to myself)
 Lend me the ears.
 Everything is coming -
 Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception.
 Be patiently, brothers and sisters.

 You want one glass lassi?
 Very good for digestion.
 With little salt, lovely drink,
 Better than wine;
 Not that I am ever tasting the wine.
 I'm the total teetotaller, completely total,
 But I say
 Wine is for the drunkards only.

 What you think of prospects of world peace?
 Pakistan behaving like this,
 China behaving like that,
 It is making me really sad, I am telling you.
 Really, most harassing me.
 All men are brothers, no?
 In India also
 Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs
 All brothers -
 Though some are having funny habits.
 Still, you tolerate me,
 I tolerate you,
 One day Ram Rajya is surely coming.

 You are going?
 But you will visit again
 Any time, any day,
 I am not believing in ceremony
 Always I am enjoying your company.
-- Nissim Ezekiel
Nissim Ezekiel, a Jew who lives in Bombay, is possibly India's greatest living
poet [1].

He's most famous for his wry commentaries on contemporary India - often written
in an exaggerated 'Indian English' - note, for instance, the overuse of the
present continuous tense in today's monologue. (Or is it that much of an
exaggeration? I meet people who talk like that all the time...).

Today's poem is in many ways typical of Ezekiel: a wry view of patriotism mixed
with some fairly sarcastic political commentary. It appears to have been written
around the time of the infamous Emergency in 1977 (which was invoked by the then
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi - to suppress her political rivals, according to
some).

That particular Indira regime was marked by lots of corruption, a '20 point
program' for regeneration, the forced sterilization of people (to implement a
'one family, one child' rule mooted by her power hungry and vicious son Sanjay
Gandhi)...

... all as seen through the eyes of an old pedant gossiping over a cup of lassi
(sweetened yoghurt) with his neighbor.  Also, note the dig at the 'unity in
diversity' which is official Indian policy.  India is a huge mix of several
races - most of which speak different languages, wear different clothes ...

All in all, though, a refreshing change from blood and thunder jingoism.

Suresh.

[thomas adds]

[1] Suresh goes on to ask, "Is the man still alive? He turned eighty a few years
ago"; to which I reply, yes, he's alive, but he suffers from an advanced case of
Alzheimer's disease and is in institutional care.

[Note on Indian English]

Like most hybrid dialects, Indian English [2] has its own curious set of
syntactical structures and odd coinages [3]. Usually, these result from
over-generalizations of rules that hold in the vernacular; for example, many
Indian languages use doubled verbs to indicate an ongoing action, hence phrases
like "world is fighting fighting" in today's poem.

[2] The usual compound form is 'Hinglish', a portmanteau of 'Hindi' and
'English'. Truth to say, though, there are almost as many forms of Indian
English as there are Indian languages, which is why I've chosen not to be more
specific in my nomenclature.
[3] Odd, that is, to native speakers of English. To Indians, they sound
perfectly natural: witness my astonishment on finding out (just a few months
ago) that 'black money' [4] was not a phrase in currency [5] elsewhere in the
world.
[4] That is, money made on the black market. Who'd have thunk it?
[5] Pun fully intended. Need you ask?

Other often-seen idiosyncracies include the following:

"I am simply not understanding" - as Suresh pointed out above, the misuse of the
continuous tense is rife in India. And in this poem.
"modern generation is neglecting" - another common mistake, the omission of the
object of a transitive verb.
"Too much going for fashion" - 'too much' is by way of being a universal
modifier in Indian English; I use it very often myself <grin>.
"Other day I'm reading newspaper" - Hindi doesn't have articles; hence either
their complete omission as in this sentence, or their replacement by numbers, as
in "You want one glass lassi?".
"To improve my English Language" - This one's a classic: the use of the phrase
'English Language', where just 'English' will do, is widespread.
"One goonda fellow" - Nouns are often used as adjectives, as also in "student
unrest fellow".
"Lend me the ears" - when articles _are_ used, they're as likely as not to be
used incorrectly; as also in "Not that I am ever tasting the wine".
"All men are brothers, no?" - The interrogative 'no?' at the end of the sentence
is common to many non-native speakers of English.

Please note that I'm not trying to pick holes in the language of today's poem,
nor am I poking fun at Indian English; rather, I'm trying to point out how
brilliantly Ezekiel has managed to capture the essence of the latter in the
former.

Incidentally, linguaphiles and/or Indophiles might be interested in
Hobson-Jobson, the definitive reference on words of Anglo-Indian origin,
available online at http://www.bibliomania.com/Reference/HobsonJobson/

Also, the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary has a supplement on
Indian English; sadly, it isn't available for public access online (as far as I
know; I would be happy to be corrected on this point).

[Moreover]

Both Martin and I first read Ezekiel's poem in an anthology titled 'Panorama: A
Selection of Poems', which we had to study in high school. The choice of poems
is astonishingly good - there's a lovely mix of the famous and the obscure.
Highly, highly recommended.

thomas.

249 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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Adhitya Rachman said...

This is line is my favorite that is published in tis poetry My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit
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This is line is my favored that is released in tis poetry My excellent religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser compared to the intelligence. We can fail in our minds. However what our blood really feels and thinks as well as states, is constantly real. The intellect is just a bit as well as a bridle.

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el dosoky said...

شركة بيوتي المثاليه
- لجميع خدمات التنظيف بجازان والاحساء
-تعد شركه بيوتي المثاليه افضل الشركات في مجال التنظيف لانها تعتمد علي الثقه
والامانه في مجال التظيف والمجالات الاخري بلا منافس لانها الاقوي والافضل
وتحرص علي تقديم افضل الخدمات باقل الاسعار وافضل الخدمات والامكنيات
-تاكد دائما ان التميز مجالنا الحقيقي


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el dosoky said...

تعد شركة الماهر من اكبر الشركات في خدمات مكافحة الحشرات وتركيب المكيفات وتنظيفها وجعلها كما كانت
ويجب عليك ان تتوجه علي الفور للاتصال بشركتنا لاننا الشركة الافضل في خدمات المنزليه ولا يوجد شركة تملك
نفس العمالة التيس تملكها شركتنا المتخصصه في نفس مجالنا فنحن الشركة الاولي التي يمكنك الاتصال به فتوجه الان علي الفور للاتصال بشركتنا شركة الماهر لتنفبذ جميع الخدمات المنزليه التي يطلبها العميل
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة تركيب مكيفات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مكيفات بالرياض
شركة فك وتركيب مكيفات بالرياض
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el dosoky said...


تعتبر النظافة أحد أكثر الأمور أهمية في حياتنا لأن النظافة تمنحنا صحة جيده وتبعد عن الكثير من الأمراض المختلفة لذلك وصي الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بالنظافة وجعلها من الأمور الدينية التي يجب علي كل مؤمن الاهتمام بها لذلك يجتهد الكثير من أصحاب المنازل في تنظيف المنازل الخاصة بهم أو شركاتهم أو الفلل الخاصة بهم ويسعوا في هذا الأمر ولكن بعد فترة يجدون أن الأمر مرهق ويجدون صعوبة بالغة في الاستمرار بعملية التنظيف ولكن مع شركتنا سهلنا كل الصعب ووضعنا طرق الامان لك ولعائلتك ومنزلك وهذا بوسائل الخبره والمعدات الحديثه الجاهزه تماما




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