The Man behind the Mist

Usually, we can’t see through the mist. It clouds us, could block our sights, even momentarily impair our senses, and makes one hard to see the things beyond.  The man behind the Mist however, is not as obscure as the mist itself. He is known to every Malayali, give them his silhouette, they shall recognize the great man who made his readers taste unrequited love, raised their heartbeats by singing unsung heroes, made a villain steal hearts…yes, M.T Vasudevan Nair never ceases to excite his readers, and occasionally makes them cry with awe.

When unexpected luck got me there, beside this legend who turns 80 on the 27th of this month, it was I who felt so directionless. I did not know what to ask, my voice squeaked and in my happiness I either stuttered or spoke like a commentator. But my favourite Malayalam writer was patient, and he answered me all the time I asked him a question and gave me so much advice that I have to present some of it before you.

Do you feel any difference between poetry now and then?

Old poetry had a kind of power that they stay in your mind forever, they had rhythm and they moved one’s heart. Very few poems now have that power. These days, poems are more of the kind where prose is cut up into pieces and read out. I see that this trend has come into English poetry too. I miss the kind of rhythm that old poems possessed. I can still recite a thousand of those, but if one asks me to recite the latest poem that I read, I may not be able to.

Who are your favourite writers?

Edasshery is one of my favourite writers in Malayalam. I have always admired his poetry and always will. In world literature, I like reading Marquez’s works. Jorge Amando’s Shepherds of the Night is also a favourite. Since I am a fiction writer, I like to be constantly updated about what is happening, and what is popular in fiction. Although my eyes do not allow me to read as much as I would love to, I find time to read whenever I can. I read because it gives me inspiration, it gives me comparisons. But that does not mean I have to write like that.

What do you think of perfection in your writings?

I think that there is no perfection in literature, there is only satisfaction. The more you read the work, the more clearly it gives you an idea of what ought to be in and ought to be out. I would say that a circus man has to attain perfection when he does his feat, if he doesn’t he can harm himself and others. But for a writer, perceptions change as time passes. When one reads a work done years ago, he may feel like changing many things. But that is not possible at the time. I think that satisfaction for the finished work is ultimately more important.

Even now, I am nervous when I write. I am like a student waiting to take an exam, like a child floating paper boats. Some of them go a long way; some of them get destroyed as soon as they start. I am like that child, with a silent prayer on my lips, hoping that my paper boats will go far.

Have you ever thought about an alternate ending to any of your works, especially Mist?

Not really. Every story has its own development once we start writing. The story shows you a path, we take it.

However, when I read Nalukettu after a long time, I felt that I could have elaborated a lot. I had not visited Vayanad at that time. I wish I could add a few chapters on that, but now, of course, that is not possible.

What advice do you have for budding writers like me?

Keep writing. Always keep writing. Not everyone may accept you, many people shall criticize you. But remember that you are the greatest critic, not anybody else. Keep going on, embrace the passion for writing. Keep writing until your mind tells you that yes, this is what I wanted. This is what I was dreaming about.

At 80, Mr. Vasudevan Nair says he has more to write, “I have finished and unfinished books. I have some more to write”. And as always, his readers will always be waiting, waiting for the mist to come, and take them to the world of literary genius.

2 Responses to The Man behind the Mist

  1. Ranjit says:

    Nice and inspiring interview. Aiswarya, we would like to know the advice of Mr M.T.Vasudevan Nair for youth and what the countrymen should do now for overcoming the present obstacles and complicated circumstances being faced by the country.Best Wishes..Ranjit

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