18 January, 2021

It's Dusk In Khasak

Malayalam literature's most potent vat, Vijayan's lines brewed a heady, visionary broth

It's Dusk In Khasak
O.V. Vijayan wrote fiction in Malayalam, but drew cartoons mostly in English. I asked him once if he was ever tempted to write in English like some Marathi writers. Usually tentative, Vijayan was firm in his reply: "For me, fiction can only be written in Malayalam, however underexposed the language is." This was at his house on Delhi's Satya Marg. Vijayan was sitting with Pooh on his lap. The Siamese cat, the only pet he is known to have kept, was looking more philosophical than her master. But secretly I felt that a tamed zebra would have been a more suitable companion for him. Ink on paper, whether to draw or write, Vijayan at his best choreographed mesmerising moments in black and white.

When did Vijayan first break into the Malayalee mind? My guess is it was with a cartoon and not one of his stories. In 1966 (he hadn't come out with a novel yet), India was experiencing a food shortage, and the historically cereal-deficient Kerala suffered most. Malayalees, overly dependent on ration shops for their daily diet, were numbed when they heard the government had reduced the...


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