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.