Times of serial loyalty

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Chat Hindi writer Vimal Kumar addresses the quandary between love and logic in his new novel

LOVE LANE Author Vimal Kumar in New Delhi Photo: V. Sudershan
LOVE LANE Author Vimal Kumar in New Delhi Photo: V. Sudershan

R omanticism and realism have always been at war in literature, and Hindi is no exception. Noted Hindi writer Vimal Kumar has revived the battle with “”, a novel that searches for love in the marketplace that our society has become. “Chand continues to be the symbol of love. Even if we know for sure that it is a satellite, it continues to arouse emotions, feelings. Writers like me can put it in words but I am sure even an IT guy must have felt something looking towards the moon,” says Kumar, who has around half-a-dozen works of merit to his credit.

Kumar's protagonist, Mihir, is a journalist with an English daily. He has a working wife but gets attracted to another woman, but by the end he gets neither the muse nor the wife. Kumar calls the dilemma symptomatic of the times we live in. “Youngsters marry according to family wishes but the longing for somebody you associate with at an aesthetic level remains. I have tried to explore it. Mihir knows his moral obligation towards his wife and society but he can't control his emotional cravings either. I don't intend to provide any solutions. My attempt is to present the situation as it is.”

Changing equation

Kumar says the man-woman equation has also changed with women becoming financially secure. “It is no longer about ‘ na jao saiyan chhuda ke baiyan'. Till a few years ago concubines were accepted by wives, who had little choice but to accept the other woman. Here Mihir's wife does talk with his love but also tells him if he has the right to pursue his desire, so does she, and moves out to explore new vistas.” Kumar finds the concept that you fall in love only once in a lifetime, overrated. “Litterateur Jainendra Kumar questioned it many years ago in ‘Dharmyug', and it was called adulterous and immoral. Today, when the concept of welfare state has collapsed and the market economy has taken over, human relationships have been replaced by professional relationships; the human being is more alone than ever before. When I talk of love, it doesn't necessarily have a physical connotation. It could be a heart-to-heart talk with a colleague over the phone. Love is all about sharing your deepest feelings and fears with somebody and this no longer happens with one person. ”

Talking about the state of Hindi literature, Kumar says there is no dearth of quality writers but there is little focus and no promotion. “Writing about love is still considered escapism. Credible literary criticism is on the wane. Except for Jansatta, no Hindi paper carries a proper book review. After Namwar Singh there is no literary critic of merit to give the reader a proper direction.”

He says Tagore's 150-year celebrations have not found as much space in Hindi papers as in the English ones. “Perhaps the Bengal elections have a role to play in the extensive coverage in national English dailies because I remember the 125 {+t} {+h} year celebrations were rather low-key. Whatever may be the reason, it is a good opportunity to take Tagore's life and writings to schools. The celebrations should not remain limited to Vigyan Bhawan and Azad Bhawan.”





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