Indian authors muse over what will influence post-pandemic literary works

For writers, the lockdown has helped a lot to connect with the muse, says author Anand Neelakantan

Anand Neelakantan   | Photo Credit: Mohammed Yousuf

I wrote a lot during this time. I finished two children’s books and the first draft of two novels. It has given writers a lot of time to reflect, to write. You are not bothered with many calls and travels. I had time to read more than 14 books during this time. For writers, the lockdown has helped a lot to connect with the muse. It is the life of ordinary people that is miserable, not of the middle class. Entrepreneurs are affected because they have to think of salaries to be paid without any income. The salaried middle class is having a good time, evident in posts on social media, which shows them spending time with their families, experimenting with new cuisines, playing games, on Zoom etc. The rich salaried class seems to be having a jolly good time. It is the poor and the downtrodden who are suffering. Except for some notable exceptions, the media is not even covering the tragedy unfolding on the streets. It comes to your drawing rooms or mobile phones only when a tragedy of unspeakable dimensions happen, like when the train ran over migrant labourers who were finding their way home.

So far as salaries were coming, the middle class was not worried. But now with the spectre of unemployment and job cuts, everyone is worried. These are tough times. Once this is over, everything has to end one day, there is going to be a huge consumer boom. Thanks to India’s huge population, even taking into consideration the dire straits of India’s poorest, there are sufficient people in India to trigger another consumer boom. They are all locked up, without travelling, dining out, without going to theatres, parties…All this pent up demand is going to burst and there is going to be a kind of ‘revenge spending’.

I feel this period has been too short for any literature about COVID-19 to come out in India. Most of the present-day writers, with some exceptions, are from the middle and upper class. They have not been affected much. So I doubt if COVID-19 will produce any great literature. This is not like the Partition where the tragedy had affected people of all strata of society in that region. This misfortune has been selective in choosing its victims. Maybe one or two works may be written. But I doubt it. Since it has not affected the chattering class, I wonder if anything great is going to come of the pandemic. I would be happy to be proved wrong in this.

(as told to Saraswathy Nagarajan)

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 1:52:13 PM |

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