Tamil writer of short stories, novels and poetry, Perumal Murugan has decided to give up writing altogether. “Author Perumal Murugan has died. He is no god, so he is not going to resurrect himself. Nor does he believe in reincarnation. From now on, Perumal Murugan will survive merely as a teacher, as he has been,” the author states on his Facebook post.
The elaborate post has been made by Murugan as a last means effort to end the controversy over his book and for sanity to prevail in his home town of Tiruchengode in Tamil Nadu. Murugan’s novel ‘Madhorubhagan’ was under attack by right wing activists who claimed that the novel not only insulted women devotees but also portrayed the Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode in bad light.
Set nearly a century ago in Tiruchengode, “Madhorubagan” is the story of a childless couple whose efforts to conceive go in vain, until one festival night when consensual union between any man and woman is sanctioned during the car festival, can put their marriage to the ultimate test.
Translated and published in English as One Part Woman by Penguin India, the idea of “traditional free, consensual sex rituals” held in the past, did not go down well with Hindu right wing outfits like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP.
Since December. the author was threatened and forced to flee from the town. Copies of his book were burnt and several local protests were undertaken to demand an arrest of both the author and the publisher. Murugan offered to settle the matter amicably but the negotiations on January 8 failed due to uninformed absence by one group.
Monday night, Murugan and the Hindu outfits finally signed a peace agreement whereby the author agreed to issue an unconditional apology, delete controversial portions in the book, withdraw unsold copies from the market and not to write on controversial subjects hurting sentiments of people. In return, the Hindu outfits agreed to withdraw from all forms of protests with immediate effect. Both parties also decided not to press for FIRs on complaints against each other.
Following which Murugan made the detailed post on his Facebook page in which he has requested all his publishers – Kalachavadu, Natrinai, Adaiyalam, Malaigal, Kayalkavin not to sell his books. “He will compensate them for their loss,” the post clarifies. None of his works written so far that include his short stories, novels, essays and poetry will be on sale again.
The post also stated that all those who have bought his books so far are free to burn them. “If anyone feels they have incurred a waste or loss in buying his books, he will offer them a compensation.” While requesting to be left alone and not invited for any events in the future, he has urged “caste, religious, political and other groups not to engage in protests.”
The death of a gifted writer in his own words, marks the death of ‘freedom of speech’ in the country. Despite the writer being ready to alter his book, the uninterrupted harassment has driven him to this extreme measure.
Image credit: The Hindu