Plowed a lonely furrow, a loosely used phrase, suits writer SV Venugopan Nair more than most.
The teacher-writer, who died aged 77 following a brief illness in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday morning, refused to align himself with any cliques or literary movements.
Known for leading a simple life and with a calm demeanor, he barely threw himself into the literary boxing ring for recognition, except once when he criticized critics for paying attention only to writers with a link with Delhi.
An affable teacher and university principal who moved around in a simple mundu shirt while always chewing betel quid, Mr. Venugopan Nair inherited southern Travancore’s linguistic assets directly from the legendary CV Raman Pillai.
Hailing from Dhanuvachapuram in southern Thiruvananthapuram, he brilliantly used colloquialisms and imbued his short stories with the dry sense of humor and deadpan sarcasm of the southerner.
Writer Chandramathi remembers him as someone who eschewed mainstream literary groups in a bold and uncompromising manner. Derrida’s concept of “difference” suited her stories with their delayed text and the way they differed from regular stories, she said.
At the request of the poet-scholar-teacher Ayyappa Paniker to translate the story of Venugopan Nair, Adisheshan, published in 1982, in English, she hesitated at first because several others had tried in vain to do so. “I was young at that time and when Mr. Paniker asked me to use my young brain, I went to meet Mr. Venugopan and understood the story, which is very poetic, up close. It’s as well as I was able to translate it,” Ms. Chandramathi said. The Hindu by telephone.
In a small note, Mrs. Chandramathi recalled that meeting him also paved the way for a warm and loving friendship. “He supported me during turbulent times in my life and advised me on ways to survive nepotism and injustice in the literary world,” she said in that note.
Winner of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for his Bhoomiputhrant VazhiMr. Venugopan Nair has also received awards such as Edassery Purakaram, AbuDhabi Shakthi Award, Padmarajan Purakaram, CV Sahithya Purakaram and Lalithambika Antharjanam Janmasatabdi Purakaram.
Born to P. Sadasivan Thampi and JV Visalakshi Amma in 1945, Mr. Venugopan Nair earned a PhD in Malayalam and worked in many colleges as a teacher before retiring as a principal in 2000. His works notable include Rekhayillata oral, mruthithalam, Garbhasreeman and Kathakalathisadaram.
In his message of condolence, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Mr Venugopan Nair imbued his stories with the simplicity of local jargon and the aesthetic brilliance of imagination.
Mr. Venugopan Nair is survived by his wife Valsala and three children. The body will be cremated Thursday at the Thycaud crematorium.