KERALA

NP and MT - a unique bond

KOZHIKODE Jan. 3. "It's as if I have lost a part of my own self,'' said the Jnanpith laureate, M T Vasudevan Nair, about the demise of NP Mohammed in Kozhikode on Friday.

Theirs was a relationship unique in many respects. It began in 1954 when the two met for the first time. It had been at a meeting arranged by a Ponnani-based publication house in Kozhikode. NP had then been hardly 25 but already a recognised writer, having won an award for his collection of stories titled "Thoppiyum Thattavum''.

MT spoke about the meeting in an interview to The Hindu today: "I had only admired him from a distance till then. I was thrilled when he said he had also read some of my stories. We had tea together that evening.''

That marked the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. In 1956 MT moved to Kozhikode and the two became thick friends. Recalled MT about those days: "We used to go for long evening walks together, almost daily. NP introduced me to senior writers of the day. More importantly, he introduced me to new authors in world literature. Though I used to read a lot, my reading those days was haphazard. In fact, it was NP who gave a direction to my reading habit.''

MT said his relationship with NP Mohammed had been much more than that between two writers. "There was no jealousy... no competition between us. I hate others reading my novel before it is complete. But NP was different from others. I used to show him the draft of my novels. NP also used to consult me while engaged in writing his novels. I remember his showing me the first chapter of "Daivathinte Kannu''.

In fact, the two were associated in a venture unique in Malayalam literature - a joint effort to write a novel. "Arabi Ponnu" was the result.

MT recalled that Mohammed had been a voracious reader until he became afflicted with a blood disorder. "But his interest in literature did not wane. He would often ask me about what was happening in world of literature."

In spite of his ailment, NP had been trying to write a novel based on the life of the freedom fighter, Abdu Rahman Sahib. He had stayed with MT in Ernakulam a few months ago to discuss some problems he faced in writing the book. "It was an ambitious project... its canvas is big,'' said MT about the last NP novel.

Mr. Vasudevan Nair believes though NP Mohammed is known for his stories on life of Malabar Muslims, his range was much wider. NP's "Hiranyakasipu'', he said, did not get the recognition it deserved. In MT's estimate it was a brilliant allegory with latent political meanings.

Mr Vasudevan Nair remarked, "NP was not a prolific writer... but that was because he was a meticulous craftsman who spent a lot of time polishing his works. To me, he was something like a ready reference book, he was so well-informed, so well read. Our relationship was deep...very strong. That is why I feel in his passing away I have lost of myself."

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