Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Indian Literature in Desi English

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Indian Literature in Desi English

                       Indo-Anglian Poetry In Desi English

Sarojni Naidu
Sarojini Naidu

Nissim Ezekiel an Indian poet has ridiculed the manner in which English is used by Indians. Almost 10%  Indians know English as a second language. Naseem thinks that  one of the most common errors made by Indians is the use of Present Continuous Tense  instead of Simple present Tense. He thinks all who make mistakes in the use of grammar, syntax and use of idioms are half educated. Nissim had graduated from Bombay University in English Literature, so he had a right to think so. In his poems "Good-bye party to Miss Pushpa T.S". and  "Very Indian Poem in Indian English" explicitly speaks of his anti-Indianness.

The wives of India sit apart
They do not drink,
they do not talk,
of course,they do not kiss. (In India)

Kamla Das

Kamala Das another famous English poet of India has narrated her frustration in love and sexual relationship through her semi-autobiographical poems viz."In Love" and "An Introduction".

She was discarded by many critics for use of English Language. Her frustration is reflected in her following 

I am an Indian, very brown, born in
Malabar, I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one. Don't write in English, They said,
English is not your tongue..... ("An Introduction")

Despite felicity of diction she has been accused of wrong and confused syntax due to perverse omission of the use of commas and inverted commas. A critic, though full of appreciation for my book Maya suggested that the book should have been written in Hindi. In words of Kamala Das:

Why not leave
me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousines,
Everyone of you ? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like?.....("An Introduction")

 R. N. Tagore  was awarded Noble Prize in Literature (1913) for his collection of poems "Gitanjali" . He composed his poems in his native language, Bengala and later translated them in English. He is primarily considered as a Bengali writer rather than an Indian English Writer.

Sarojini Naidu, who is popularly known as "Nightingale of India" was said to lack quality (intellectualism) in her poems.
'Two souls with but a single thought,
Two hearts that beat as one"  .... ("Humayun to Zobeida")

According to Nissim Ezekeil "Sarojini knew nothing of the of the literary revolution taking place in English Poetry in the twenties and the earlier".

Taru Dutt who died at the tender age of 21 is said to be a poetic genius and is known as "The Keats of India". She spent many years in France and wrote poems and novels in French language also. Her poems viz. Savitri  and Lakshman are based on mythological stories of ancient India and sometimes lack universal human predicament.

In Post-Independence poets Jayant Mahapatra has used landscapes of  his native state of Orissa in his poems. He is Physicist turned into celebrated poet, confesses "You can see, I haven't read much poetry in my life. As a matter of fact, I haven't read any poetry until I started writing myself".

Sri Aurobindo is not only an eminent Indian English Poet but also a famous Guru and Yogi. In his poem "Life and Death" he says:

Desi English
Life, death, - death, life; the words have led for ages
Our thought and consciousness and firmly seemed
Two opposites; but now long-hidden pages
Are opened, liberating truths undreamed.
Life only is, or death is life disguised, -
Life a short death until by Life we are surprised.

Unfortunately, he too has been accused to use the English Language not as creators but as manipulator.

T. S. Eliot believed that the impersonality of poetry has its roots in value of traditions. I. A. Richards employed unique methods for textual and verbal analysis in his Practical Criticism  and The meaning of Meaning.

We can use their work to evaluate Indian English Poetry. However best thing would be to avoid any comparison and have more faith in desi English.

Soon we will cast a glance on the  prose written in Desi English.
Meanwhile, read two related posts

(Poetry Blog "This is about if")
Advocate, Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur, India

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