Can English be a medium of expression for Indian sensibilities? Discuss with reference to one Indian poet writing in English.
As we talk about the use of language, I am reminded of something that my mother once told me. She has a Hindi speaking background but her education was in English. As such, she thought in Hindi but wrote in English. This wasn't so much of a problem because writing for a news bulletin required more factual than creative skills. But when it came to creative writing, this didn't work. It created a block in the flow of thoughts onto paper, whether it was in Hindi or in English. There was a discrepancy in what she thought and what she wrote. She then switched to thinking' in that language in order to be able to put across her thoughts lucidly, absolutely. To be able to write in English, she had to start thinking in English and not in Hindi and vice-versa.
The English language came to India with the British and influenced a small, miniscule section of the population. It was in this pre-independence period that Indian poets started writing in English albeit creating a dichotomy. Though they were writing in English, they were thinking in their traditional Indian languages. English was still an alien, foreign language. Their lack of familiarity with and fluency in this new language made Indian-English poets in the pre-independence period largely unoriginal. They derived most of their work by imitating models in English and in their effort to pick up this new language, focussed on the language-English rather than content and style of poetry. Thus, they contributed little or nothing to any literary tradition, thereby limiting the scope of Indian-English poetry in the pre-independence period. .
The post-independence scenario emerged different. Admittedly, Indian writing in English is a very urban-India phenomenon. Urban India has seen a whole generation grow up on English as a medium of thought, communication, and expression.