Friday, August 17, 2018

GOOD BYE V S NAIPAUL





                              

                                                                                  
                                                      ( Savitri or Savi Naipaul Akal )
                                                           ( Seepersad Naipaul )

                                                        ( Naipaul House .. Now a Museum )
                       ( Hotel Leeward In Dal Lake  Kashmir Where Naipaul stayed in 1962 )
                       (  V S Naipaul with  Mrs Nadira Alvi Naipaul )
                                  ( Seepersad with his wife and Children )
                                  ( With The then Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee )
                                                       ( Naipaul with his Mother )
                                             ( Naipaul And Patricia Hale )



GOOD BYE VS NAIPAUL....


V S Naipaul died at his residence  . His wife  Nadira Alvi Naipaul and Daughter    were at his bedside. His death brought him  to   spotlight once more. He was suddenly  alive  in  Newspapers , Television channels and   Social Media.
Yesterday's Wall street journal ( Newspaper published from New York)  wrote :
" Naipaul chronicled the colonial experience in haunting prose that contained a writer's lyricism with an anthropologist's scrutiny.He was a relentless and cool observor, unapologetic Maverick who resisted sentimentality yet prized History."
Author Salman Rushdie paid his  tribute to Naipaul, writing: 
“We disagreed all our lives, about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RIP Vidia.”


In the latest issue of Time Magazine published from New York,  London based Noted  Writer, poet and translator Meena Kandasamy writes :

" When V.S.Naipaul —who died at 85 on Aug. 11—stormed that exclusive literary bastion with his irascible portrayal of life in the former colonies, he irrevocably changed the landscape. As we marvel at his tremendous, formidable body of work in the wake of his passing, we inevitably have to contend with his polarizing, reactionary legacy."


I was barely 18  when i read his two books  : "An Area of Darkness"  and'  In a  Free state  '. I read his short stories like Mother, Aunt Gold Teeth, The Mourners and' A Night watchman's Occurrence Book' .  I have a long association with his books, essays, interviews  and Biographies.  For the last three days, I  read what  well known writers spoke about him and his style in their Tweets..I mean  writers like Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Reza Aslan and Hari Kunzru .Most of them  including Nobel laureate late  Derek Walcott  have disagreed  with some of  his personal   opinions ; yet  they were  all  in total agreement  about the brilliance and originality of his style, language and sentence. 
His opinions as they surfaced from some of his Books, lectures ,write ups and essays , created   a few  controversies  .  He  didn't change his stance  and was never ever  apologetic about what he wrote or said.
Interviewing him was not so easy. To his interviewers,he would always pose questions like:
"  Have you read my Books? Which book you have read ? Have  you read my essay on....so and so...?  "
Naipaul's ancestors were indentured ( sugar plantation)  labourers from India  shipped to British Trinidad and Tobago in mid 19th century.  Naipauls were Dubey Brahmins from  Gorakhpur area of Uttar Predesh . Seepersad ,  Naipaul's father got good education and became a journalist who worked as correspondent for Daily Trinidad Guardian.. He authored two books. Shiva  Naipaul ,  younger brother of VSN went to Europe  on a scholarship and ultimately became a brilliant  writer  who remained overshadowed by his  brother's colossal image. He married a European , wrote some books  and suddenly  died of a heart attack. He must have   been barely 40. I have read " Fireflies"   an absorbing book that Shiva  wrote .
VSN studied at Oxford and finally settled in London and married  Nadira Alvi in 1996  after his wife Patricia died of Cancer.   Nadira Naipaul is a Zambian of Pakistani ancestry.
For more than twenty years,  VSN   remained in an intimate relationship with Margret  Gooding,  an Argentinian woman whom he met in 1972.

VSN  received  Nobel prize and has been knighted. His Nobel Prize Citation read (  a , b , c and  d  )  :

                                                                          


  (a)
“For having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”.

(b) 

" V. S. Naipaul is a literary circumnavigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice. Singularly unaffected by literary fashion and models he has wrought existing genres into a style of his own, in which the customary distinctions between fiction and non-fiction are of subordinate importance."

(c) 

" Naipaul is a modern philosophe, carrying on the tradition that started originally with Lettres persanes and Candide. In a vigilant style, which has been deservedly admired, he transforms rage into precision and allows events to speak with their own inherent irony."

(d)

 "He took a giant stride with A House for Mr. Biswas, one of those singular novels that seem to constitute their own complete universes, in this case a miniature India on the periphery of the British Empire, the scene of his father’s circumscribed existence. In allowing peripheral figures their place in the momentousness of great literature, Naipaul reverses normal perspectives and denies readers at the centre their protective detachment. This principle was made to serve in a series of novels in which, despite the increasingly documentary tone, the characters did not therefore become less colourful. Fictional narratives, autobiography and documentaries have merged in Naipaul’s writing without it always being possible to say which element dominates."

Apart from Savitri , Mira and Nalini are  his two living sisters .

The old family house in Trinidad built by VSN's father  has been converted to a Museum by the family.

KASHMIR CONNECTION
VSN  stayed in kashmir for about five months in 1962.. He stayed  at  Hotel Leeward ( Liward at that time )  in Dal Lake  located  behind Nehru Park.His popular book “ An Area Of Darknesss ” was written in this Hotel. Half of the Book covers his Kashmir stay.A  closer version of  travelogue full of  his keen observations  .Many names find mention in  this book. Ali Mohd and Mr Mohd Sidiq Butt were from this Hotel only. Aziz the clever helper ( as he appears in the book)  , Ali Mohd the person who brought guests from Tourists Reception Centre and Mr Butt the owner . Ali Mohd and Mr Butt are no more . Aziz is alive and an old man who owns the Hotel at the moment . He has diversified his business.Mr Aziz told me that he had preserved a letter, photogrphs and the  hand written comments of Naipaul on visitor' s register.
He also   met Sri kanth Kak ( IAS ) .He met the proprietor of Hind Book shop Residency Road , a sikh gentleman and had tea with him. In 1979, this gentleman told me :
" Yes he came to this shop three times. I didn't know him. He had already written one or two books . He said he was writing a book. He sought some information and purchased a couple of books on kashmir.Unassuming but fluent in English he was at that time. I never knew that one day i would be selling his books."

I also met Mr Soni the proprietor of  Premier Hotel cum Bar (since closed) The Bund Srinagar . I told him what Naipaul had written about the Hotel in the book. He simply  smiled.
Late Sri Kanth kak ( IAS ) told me:
" I vividly remember him. He would come to speak for the owner of the Hotel where he stayed. They needed some approval from Government. The proprietor would be always Accompanying him. He spoke English with a British accent."
Naipaul  visited kashmir again in 1988.
Let me say  a little  about what  he wrote .

Naipaul wrote about 30 books . I must have read  25.Out of all these books , I rate " A House For Mr Biswas"  as amazingly beautiful and impressive. After reading the novel and   after reading what Savitri Naipaul has written about her parents and brother,  i am convinced that VSN has skillfully made the novel's story revolve around his own father.
In the Novel, Mr. Biswas, a downtrodden Trinidadian journalist wants his independence: “a place of his own”. It’s not easy.
A few years back, In Jaipur literary festival, Naipaul broke  down  after Paul Theroux praised his  book  "A House for Mr Biswas "  and compared the author to Charles Dickens.
I have every reason to say  that  Naipaul was a master writer of  his age. His  story telling style had an eye for tragedies of  mankind that had unforgiving comic crispness. This  comic crispness is starkly  visible in his  travelogues.
His books like Enigma  Of Arrival ,  Mimic Men and A Bend in the River are again master creations of his crafty pen.
He had a few personal friends. They   have  commented that to those who never knew him closely  , he   appeared a little  haughty but in reality the man was  profoundly  affable.And Khushwant singh  once  played host to Naipaul, his sister Savitri  and his mother Droaptie Naipaul   when they visited India. 
VSN is the only   every time   readable  writer that we have around . His  sentence construction is fantastic.  The   Paragraphs that he creates keep you focussed. Through his fiction ,  He makes you to believe  something  that may not be always true . And he was the greatest supporter of fiction.He  would often say that  Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life. For him, Fiction was  the platform where writers come to reveal truth. 

I quote him: 

"An autobiography can distort, facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies. It reveals the writer totally."

In his Nobel Prize speech ,   VSN defined his style as under . I Quote him :

 "Both fiction and the travel-book form have given me my way of looking; and you will understand why for me all literary forms are equally valuable. It came to me, for instance, when I set out to write my third book about India – twenty-six years after the first – that what was most important about a travel book were the people the writer travelled among. The people had to define themselves. A simple enough idea, but it required a new kind of book; it called for a new way of travelling."

I am sure even his  Critics / detractors   will  continue to read his books .
Good bye VSN. 


(Avtar Mota)
15.08.2018




Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

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