The poem “The Professor” by Nissim Ezekiel is a satire on typical Professors of India. In this poem which is a Dramatic Monologue, a Professor namely Professor Seth meets a person who was once his student.
The professor begins boasting about himself and about his sons and sons-in-law. He mispronounces various words and also uses the wrong phrases. The poem seems to be like Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa TS in which also the poet mocks at the Indian tradition.
The poem consists of a single stanza having 35 lines. There is no particular rhyme scheme and the language is simple, direct yet satirical.
The professor asks his student, “Remember me?” and then he replies that he is Professor Sheth who once taught him geography. It was long ago. Now he is retired, yet his health is quite fine. The very first lines give detail about the nature of the professor. He rather seems to be a friend rather than a leader.
His wife died some years back. Narrating that, the professor begins boasting about his children. According to him, all his children are well-settled in life now. He describes each of them separately in terms of their position, One is Sales Manager, One is Bank Manager.
Having said that he tells his student that Both have cars. The car is a token of richness in India. Thus he wants to say that they are quite rich and well-settled now. Next, he describes his 3rd son, who according to him is not so well.
Every family must have black sheep meaning that there is always a spoilt person in every family and in his family it is his third son. Abusing one’s children is also a tradition in Indian society.
Next, he describes the success of his daughters both in a quite orthodox Indian way. He says that Sarala and Tarala are married. Rhyming names are very common in India. We have Ram and Sham, Geeta and Seeta, Athar and Azhar, Diksha & Divya, etc.
Rather than talking about which they have done by themselves, he says that both his daughters are married and their husbands are very nice boys. The sentence is fundamentally wrong. However, this is the Indian version of English.
The professor then talks about his grandchildren who according to him are 11 in number. These lines depict the mindset of a typical Indian father who feels proud by the achievements of his sons but daughters are just a commodity for him ad their identity is defined by the status and achievements of their husbands.
After that, for the first time, he asks his student how many issues you have? Issues here refers to children. In India, children are often called are issues. This sentence is also quite wrong.
His student replies 3 but it has not been described in the poem. The professor then says that it’s good because these are days of family planning- a wrong sentence. He says that he is not against family planning as he believes in changing with the time.
The lines depict the hypocrisy of the professor. On one hand, he proudly tells that he has 11 grandchildren which is a big number and on the other hand he supports family planning as well.
He adds our progress is progressing meaning that we are progressing. Old values are going, new values are coming. Again, quite humourous lines used by most of the Indians. According to the professor they are doing well and progressing with leaps and bounds.
The professor then says that he is going out rarely, now and then because he is old. Yet his health is O.K. There is no Usual aches and pains, No diabetes, no blood pressure, no heart attack because he has healthy habits which he follows regularly.
Again, after boasting himself again, he asks his student how healthy he is. The student replies that he is quite healthy. The professor says that it is nicely i.e. quite good.
Again he reverts back to himself. According to him, he will turn 69 that year and hopes to cross 100 years. He then says that the student was very thin those days but now he is healthy.
Now he (student) is a man of weight and consequence. In the last lines, the professor offers his student to visit his humble residence which is just on opposite house’s backside and the poem ends.