It is very “painful” to receive an award on behalf of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, who has given up writing following attacks by Hindu rightwing groups, his publisher has said.
In a moving speech after receiving the literary award ‘Samanvay Bhasha Samman’, publisher Kannan Sundaram said on Saturday that under the given circumstances, receiving the award on behalf of Murugan was painful.
“If he had asked me to receive an award on his behalf under normal circumstances, I would have considered it a great honour for me,” Sundaram said.
“Today, even if it is definitely an honour, it is a painful reminder. A reminder that I now have to say Perumal Murugan ‘was’ even as he very much ‘is’.”
Murugan was conferred the award for his novel “Madhorubhagan”. He declared himself ‘dead’ as a writer after protests by Hinduvata outfits this year against the book.
The author, who did not turn up for the award function, sent a message signed as P. Murugan, which stated that he was now acting as the shadow of writer Perumal Murugan.
Sundaram, founder of the publishing house ‘Kalachuvadu Pathippagam’, said: “If P. Murugan himself is now a shadow, I feel like a phantom limb. It itched while I watched majoritarian mafias in action but restrained myself in the absence of Perumal Murugan.”
The publisher, a close friend of Murugan. said it saddened him to see the statements from Murugan since last year.
“Living in a country where people with hurt sentiments outnumber book readers, I feel, my status, both as a publisher and a citizen, is being undermined.
“I can be a complete publisher only when I can publish the unself-censored writings of Perumal Murugan and many other gutsy writers,” said Sundaram.
The publisher said his friendship with Murugan dated back to the 1990’s and he had published most of Murugan’s works since then.
“Murugan was a prolific writer, poet, research scholar, literary critic and chronicler. I have read him with pleasure and admiration for the last 25 years.
“After reading some of his early writing I wrote him a letter 20 years ago. We became good friends soon after. I have had the privilege of being his publisher for nearly a decade now,” said Sundaram.