The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe

 Church Going
by Philip Larkin

 Frost at Midnight
by Samuel Coleridge

 I sit & look out
by Walt Whitman

 The Lady of Shallot
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

 Telephone Conversation
by Wole Soyinka

 Going Places
by A.R. Barton

 Village Cricket Match
by A. G. Macdonell

 The Night Train at Deoli
by Ruskin Bond

 Growing Up
by Joyce Cary

 The Castaway
by Rabindranath Tagore

Page 2

Telephone Conversation
-by Wole Soyinka

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(Continued from Page 1)

The land lady's effort in seeking clarification in something quite irrelevant that is, his skin colour, in the course of the conversation is emphasized. She repeated her question, reinforcing the racist overtone in the English society. The lady's pushy, unequivocal stance in pursuing the answer rendered the man speechless. He suddenly seemed confounded.

'Button B, Button A.'

The automation imagery shows the man's temporary conclusion and implies the rampant racial discrimination taken for granted in the western society.
Shock changes to disbelief that transforms itself quickly into sheer disgust and utter indignation.

'Red booth. Red pillar box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar.'

The narrator is jolted back into reality from his trance like state and he makes a frantic attempt to ascertain the situation. The revelation comes with the repetition of the question by the land lady with varying emphasis.

'ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT? You mean-like plain or milk chocolate?'

It was soul shattering to the narrator that the land lady could so insensitive to his feelings. Fuming with anger, the man decided to inflict similar humiliation on the racist woman choosing a superior vocabulary and replying in an acutely sarcastic tone.

"West African sepia-and as afterthought, 'Down in my passport.'

He quickly forces her into submission and exposes the ignorance of the lady clearly illustrating that beneath the lady's glossy and lavish exterior, she was just a shallow judgmental racist. Paying no attention to the land lady's disrespect for him, he took a firm control over the conversation defending the dignity and integrity of his ethnic identity from the ruthless onslaught of the land-lady. He goes on to describe the various colors one could see on him;

'Facially, I am brunette, but, madam, you should see the rest of me.'

Unabashed he goes on to state that the palm of his hand and the soles of his feet are peroxide blonde and that friction by sitting down had turned his bottom -raven black. With a slow but furious realization the lady began to set the receiver down. 'Sensing.... ' the man rushed to ask sarcastically:

"Madam", I pleaded, "wouldn't you rather see for yourself?"

The quasi politeness of the tone of the poet can hardly conceive the ultimate insult inflicted on the land lady and shows how indignant the man was, also ending the poem with a tremendous sense of humor , apart from the obvious sarcasm.
'Telephone conversation' is a favorite, both for its excellent use of rich language and the timeless message it conveys, that is to avoid silent resignations to such policies of the racist society and also that Intellectual superiority is not determined by racial color.

Page 2

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