Nirmal Verma

Nirmal Verma (1929 – 2005)

The way kids grow up in Delhi, my exposure to Hindi Literature was limited. Except for the occasional good story in our Hindi NCERT textbooks, I didn’t know much. My introduction to Hindi Literature was through Nirmal Verma. In the school library at the age of 13, I had randomly picked up Kavve aur Kala Pani. His evocative and sometimes melancholic writing was very different from what I’d thought the genre would be. His stories offered an interesting and rare perspective when it came to his glimpses of Europe and the world outside India. The notion of exile, alien, identity and culture so beautifully explored in the backdrop of Czech mindscape.

I saw him in 1997 in my school where he’d come in for a lecture. Being the school editor, I got to interview him for over an hour. And such a gentle voice. He asked me if I had read any of his works. And I promptly rattled off a list. For a man of his stature he put you at complete ease. So as a Giant of Indian Literature he lives – in his treasure trove of books.

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4 Responses to Nirmal Verma

  1. I had no idea, that there was somebody like this man. I think I’ll try getting hold of his writing – Thanks.

  2. Our seminar the other day was dedicated to him. Coincidentally, one of my colleagues had a paper on the construction of cities in his stories.

  3. Anonymous

    I had met him many rains ago at Bhopal very accidentally. If only my Hindi teachers were less Hitler-ian I might have become an avid reader of Hindi lit beyond what I was forced to swallow and reguritate from those NCERT textbooks.

    I also think you should take up the task of translating some of his work?

    -Me

  4. River: Construction of cities – sounds really interesting. An under-nourished hope of mine is to actually write something longer than post-length; to fit between the covers of a book – and I know that it would have to be a city.

    Anon: I agree – NCERT was a horror. Except for some stuff that was mildly interesting, the representation of Literature was very poor. I wish I was smart/ articulate enough for the task of translation. Though I think a large volume of Nirmal Verma’s work is already translated.