My mother asked me to leave India to Indians, rues V S Naipaul

Jaipur: After Nobel Laureate V S Naipaul penned books on India with titles such as “An Area of Darkness” and “A Wounded Civilisation,” his mother asked him to leave India and write on other subjects, the Nobel Laureate said on Saturday.

The Indian-origin British author, who was born in Trinidad narrated what his mother had to say to him. “The only Hindi word my mother carried from India was ‘beta’ and she said ‘beta please leave India to the Indians’,” Naipaul recalled during the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.

The 82-year-old wheelchair-bound author has published 30 books over half a decade and that includes those on travel. “I came to India first because of curiosity about my ancestral land. My publisher had agreed to pay me an advance for anything I would write on India. Although it was a petty amount even then but I felt at peace to get it. I didn’t know how to move in India but eventually I had to find my way,” he said.

Naipaul broke down at this point and his wife Nadira assisted him in wiping away his tears. On the inaugural day of the festival too, the author had been in tears after listening to travel writer Paul Theroux, with whom he had reportedly his first public reunion in 19 years.

Naipaul’s first travel book was called “The Middle Passage” (1962). He had also written the India trilogy starting with “An Area of Darkness” (1964), which relates to his first journey to India, followed by “India, A Wounded Civilisation” and “India, A Million Mutinies Now.”

“I began to write but I realised that I was writing frivolously and it wasn’t coming out the way it should have. I used the term an area of wounded civilisation in an attempt to suggest the effect of its history on India of the precarious evasion,” Naipaul said.

The session on the fourth day of the festival saw Naipaul in conversation with Farrukh Dhondy in a session titled, “The Writer and the World.”

Festival organiser William Darlymple in his tweet about the session said, “V S Naipaul got a larger crowd on the front lawn than anyone else we’ve ever hosted- just under 6,000 – more than Oprah, more even than Amitabh.

US talk show host Oprah Winfrey had visited the festival in 2012 while Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan had spoken at the event in the year 2009.

During his session, at the literary festival, Naipaul who studied at the Oxford University in Britain and became a BBC correspondent for Carribians, spoke about how he ended up being a writer.

“I was one of those people who desperately wanted to be a writer but had nothing to write about. When I had approached a publisher with my first book, he had asked me to leave that piece as it is and do something else. I was disappointed and demotivated but that’s what exactly I did, left it and wrote something else,” he said.

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