Ode to Nirmal Verma

A memorial meeting at India International Centre

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: "Mere liye likhna aur lautna ek cheez hai'', he had once said. And as friends and fans remembered the distinguished Hindi author Nirmal Verma on this nippy November evening this Saturday, it was with the very words that Verma has left the world to remember him by.

An evening that brought back memories -- of long poetry-reading sessions under the sun and discussions and debates with friends, of struggling days and long due recognition -- the prolific writer who passed away recently was remembered at a memorial meeting at India International Centre.

While eminent writers like Prayag Shukl, Anaamika and Madhukar Upadhye paid their ode by reading out excerpts from Verma's books, Krishna Baldev Vaid and Krishen Khanna remembered him through the memories they now share.

Considered a luminary of Hindi prose, Nirmal Verma was credited with pioneering the new story movement in Hindi literature along with titans like Mohan Rakesh, Bhishma Sahni and Kamleshwar and Amarkant.

While his first collection of stories, "Parinde'', is seen by many as a milestone in the movement, Verma, who was an idealist, went on to win top honours for literature winning the Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi awards for his contribution to Hindi literature.

While pointing out that Verma had contributed immensely to Hindi literature, poet and critic Ashok Bajpeyi said, "He still had a lot left in him.''

Showcasing his thoughts for his longtime friend, writer Krishna Baldev Vaid summed up his feelings through a letter which spoke of his first few of years of friendship with Verma and the slight separation that followed in the years ahead. "You broke new ground with your writing. A lot of people then called you a non-Indian and a foreigner... In the last 12 months of your life, you fought really hard... You will live on through your stories and novels,'' he said.

Seconding his view was artist Krishen Khanna, who felt that the country had not lost out on Nirmal Verma yet.

"I don't feel that I have lost him. Artists and writers manage to survive through their works. His presence is through his words and although I feel very sad at his demise, I also know that he will survive, although his physical presence may not."

A postgraduate in History from Delhi University's St.Stephen's College, Verma spent nearly ten years of his life in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he studied Czech and also translated a number of classics in Hindi.

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