Wole Soyinka - My favourite

Saturday, January 12, 2008 , 0 Comments



Noble Laureate Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian poet, playwright, novelist is my favourite. "Telephone conversation" is one of his best poetry where he uses irony to show the absurdity of racisim...

Just a brief on this poem.

A dark African man searching for a new apartment, narrates his telephone conversation with a land lady, who outwardly looks well bred and polite, but a racist to the core. She questions the gentleman about his colour. Being an intelligent guy and quick witted he answers her question in a subtle and wry humour. Though outwardly the poetry makes you smile, one can find the pain behind those words. What is their in a skin colour after all?

"Telephone Conversation"

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. "Madam," I warned,
"I hate a wasted journey--I am African."
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled
Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was foully.
"HOW DARK?" . . . I had not misheard . . . "ARE YOU LIGHT
OR VERY DARK?" Button B, Button A.* Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis--
"ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?" Revelation came.
"You mean--like plain or milk chocolate?"
Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,
I chose. "West African sepia"--and as afterthought,
"Down in my passport." Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness clanged her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece. "WHAT'S THAT?" conceding
"DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS." "Like brunette."
"THAT'S DARK, ISN'T IT?" "Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but, madam, you should see
The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blond. Friction, caused--
Foolishly, madam--by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black--One moment, madam!"--sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears--"Madam," I pleaded, "wouldn't you rather
See for yourself?"
* Buttons to be pressed by caller who has inserted a coin into an old type of British public pay phone.
Let me complete this post by Soyinka's famous words from his play " The Road"... "...A guy is gorra have his principles. I'm a right guy. I mean you just look arrit this way. If you gonna be killed by a car, you don't wanna be killed by a Volkswagen. You wanre Limousine, a Ponriac or something like that. Well thas my principle..." :)

viji suresh

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard. Google

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At one, I learnt crawling was fun. At forty one, I still feel crawling is fun #blamemykneesnotme