Dev’s e-mail a couple of days ago revived memories of the strong impression Nissim Ezekiel’s poems made on me in school and prompted me to find out more about him on the internet. And I found, in an obituary of him, two lines from one of his poems that I felt spoke to me. Or rather, to the ambivalence I feel as someone who chooses so far to live outside her native environment yet wonders about the rightness of it.
“……..Ezekiel once described India as too large for anyone to be at home in all of it. However, after tenures as visiting professor at Leeds University (1964) and Chicago (1967), plus lecture tours and conferences, he always gravitated back to his native city. Though a natural outsider, he still felt Indian, albeit “incurably critical and sceptical”. As he wrote in Background, Casually: “Others choose to give themselves/ In some remote and backward place./ My backward place is where I am.”