Ezekiel enumerates the city sights focusing our attention on the poverty of the people represented by the beggars’ hawkers, pavement sleepers, and the dwellers in the slums. The poet draws our attention to the burning of women who did not bring enough dowry and to the virgins who are frightened of being molested by rogues and ruffians. Children lose their innocence and purity while animals get no respite from the brutality of men. Noise and pollution fill up the major space of living. Suffering is all-pervasive and the entire canvas of the city imparts commotion. In the poems related to India and especially city life, Ezekiel appears more as a critic and a sensor than an admirer or champion of those conditions of life. The human souls choked by immense misery and gods afraid to tread such a horrible landscape, the poem would but seek an escape from the suffocating atmosphere of an Indian metropole. In another poverty poem, Ezekiel depicts the inhabitants as sick people and sickness seems to be having a death wish.
In fact, he self-confronted the fallen world and stood in ironic contrast to the ideal world. The poem refers to his personal disgust in having to witness these sights. At the same time, Ezekiel tries to explore the labyrinths of his own mind as well as the minds of others in order to achieve a feeling of stability and comfort. He presents the beggars and the pavement sleepers but he also examines his own plight, saying.
“I ride my elephant of thoughts
A Cezanne slung around my neck”.
Many of his poems ridicule the follies of the Indian people and his chief weapon of attack is irony. He does not feel shy of poking fun at the Indians for their hypocrisy and their pretense of piety. People belonging to different religions secs indulged in all sorts of cheap and nasty deeds but never missed their prayers. The Roman Catholic boys confessed their amorous games but hastened to prayers. The Anglo-Indian Christian faith cherished a strong hatred for the Jew but never hesitated in drinking whiskey in their den in the company of the Muslim boys for whom carousal is a cardinal sin. The biting of sarcasm becomes more ludicrous when the poet sees them creeping in slowly before or after their prayers in the Jewish hideout.
Life in the city maintains its own way of entertainment and excitement. Party hopping is one of the prime hobbies of these people who exude global bonhomie on such occasions. Women with semi-bare bosoms bring charm and glamour to these celebrations. But the wines of India cut a sorry figure, the shy women are a complete mistful in the jovial Jamboree. But husbands make the most of the merriment because they have learned the art of flirtation. There is also the intellectual Indian girl who thinks and talks big. Art and literature are the subjects of discussion regarding the English loss. She also highlights the necessity of progress that India needs. In the background, there are bottles of beer and a music system. Her great expectations are suddenly frustrated when she finds her relationship with the boss finally reduced to the basic level of a man-woman connection. The girl leaves the courteous British boss after possessing the gift of a safety pin. These people can at best be described as men of straw, having no direction or sensibility.
As a matter of fact, Ezekiel hates the many unpleasant and disgusting aspects of city life in India yet he feels tempted to improve the condition of life which confirms his commitment to this country. In another poem, he speaks that the city remains within him wherever he goes.
Ezekiel’s aim has been to write clear and direct poetry. “In India” show the harmony between the lifeline and the poem written. In the poem, he adopts a conversational style. The poem conveys pictorial quality and therefore shows an affinity with the visual arts. He has given us concrete and vivid pictures of a city of sick people. The poet speaks ironically about the physical environment and mental sickness of the metropolis, which gives an abiding interest in the poem in Ezekiel’s direct and simple style.
Also Read, In India poem by Nissim Ezekiel Click here