Post Colonial Impact in Anita Desai’s in Custody
The aim of the two characters is to save great Urdu language in the postcolonial era but both of them have experienced in a negative way. The novelist linked the middle class rural Hindi lecturer and the yesteryear famous poet Nur in connection with the love of Urdu language.
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Life of Deve and Urdu Langauge Deven Sharma is a Hindi lecturer in a college at Mirapore, a small town. He is the central character of the novel. He is from middle class family. His father was a school teacher and also lover of Urdu language. Due to the influence of his father, he learned Urdu language.
Deven married to Sarla who is simple and away from her husband’s literary taste and caliber. He is very much interested in reading Urdu poems written by the famous Urdu poet Nur’s and also fan of him. He considered Nur as a great hero and Sovereign of Urdu language. He was very much impressed by Nur’s verses. As a teacher, Deven is not a capable person in handling the classes. Anita Desai portrays “a boring teacher, who could not command attention, let alone the regard of his unruly class” (In Custody. , 13). Deven leads mediocre life. His marriage is matchless and as a husband, he does not fulfill the family desires.
He is very much interested in establishing the endangered language Urdu instead of living present life with his wife and son Manu. His behavior towards his wife makes thing unpleasant in all circumstances in his life. In the midst of his wife, he feels as if he is a stranger, an interloper. He suffers very much in fulfilling his duty of marriage as a shameful failure. He has a little son who is very often querulous with hunger and sleeps when Deven returns from work. Once, his wife pointed out his inability of buying anything for his son. When he asked “ Where is Manu? I don’t see him. Manu! his wife arrogantly replayed “He has gone to the neighbors to show them his new clothes…. My parents have given him… (194). The novel begins with an unexpected meeting between two childhood friends Deven and Murad. Both of them have contrasting personalities and different family backgrounds. Deven is requested by Murad to interview the famous Urdu poet Nur for a “special issue” of his journal Awaz . Murad flatters and insists Deven to revive the glorious past of Urdu language and limelight the poet whom Deven loves very much by conducting the personal interview. Murad says keep alive the glorious tradition of Urdu literature.
If we do not do it, at whatever cost, how will it survive in this era of—that vegetarian monster, Hindi? ” … “That language of peasants,” Murad sneered, picking his teeth with a matchstick. “The language that is raised on radishes and potatoes … it flourishes, while Urdu—language of the court in days of royalty —now languishes in the back lanes and gutters of the city. (15) However, Deven denies Murad’s request due to some practical reasons but Murad accuses him betraying his mother- tongue by selling out his professional caliber to a rival language Hindi.
Murad mocked Deven ‘Can you serve a language by taking it up “only as your hoppy? Doesn’t it deserve more? Doesn’t it deserve a lifetime’s dedication-like mine? (16). Finally, Deven accepts the assignment and says “of course I will, Murad. (18) Meeting with the great Urdu Poet Anita beautifully portrayed how he reached Delhi to meet the great Urdu poet. He has a great imagination about the poet’s life style and he expected good reception from him. But in contrary to his expectations he was unwelcomed by the poet. He shouted “who gave you permission to disturb me? ” (41).
Deven explained that his friend Murad asked him to interview the great poet for the special issue on Urdu poetry. He said “It is a great honour for me sir, a great privilege” (41). Nur gets angry and says: “Urdu poetry?… How can there be Urdu poetry when there is no Urdu language left? It is dead, finished” (42). Nur criticizes Deven’s job as a Hindi lecturer. He mocked that the Hindi is given more important than Urdu in the postcolonial era. He says “Those Congress- Wallahs have set up Hindi on top as our ruler” (42). Deven explained his love for Urdu language.
He says “I studied Urdu, sir, as a boy, in Lucknow. My father, he was a schoolteacher, a scholar, and a lover of Urdu poetry. He taught me the language. But he died …I was sent to the nearest school, a Hindi medium school, sir (43). Anita metaphorically, described how Urdu has been replaced after independence. The dead of Deven’s father is symbolically represents the decay of Urdu language. Further, Deven explains how he is trapped into his disinterest job as Hindi lecturer. He says “I took my degree in Hindi, sir and now I am temporary lecturer…it is my living sir. You see I am a married man, a family man.
But I still remember my lessons in Urdu… If it were not for the need to earn a living, I would- I would” (43). Desai revealed that the strong aspiration of Deven is to save endangering language in any form. The poet does his routine work with hearing Deven and shouting his assistant and nobody cares Deven, “he felt reluctant to leave without seeing Nur once again and making one more sincere and positive effort to arrange the interview” (50). Deven finds Nur’s merciless wives and their behavior towards the poet. Nur’s wife says to Deven “Aren’t you willing to do that for your-your hero?