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I failed to assess my environment: Murugan


 Writer Perumal Murugan

 He has now come out with his new book in Tamil “Kozhaiyin Padalgal”(“Songs of a Coward”), which was written during his exile.

These poems speak of the silence, at that period when he was fighting the battle internally as well with the external forces. Some are melancholic while others are angry. Most of them have a very stark imagery of nature and use nature emphatically as a metaphor for the poets’ anguish. 

In an interview, Murugan said that poems of this collection were natural expressions and there was nothing like a challenge in writing them. 

“There is a poem titled ‘Song of a Coward’ in this collection. Viewed together, each poem by itself, in a way, appears to be a song of a coward,” he said. 

On why he used the word coward, he said, “Whether we accept it or not, there comes a moment in everyone’s life when they feel that they are a coward or circumstances brand them so.” 

“Songs of a Coward”, published by Penguin Books, is translated from the original by Aniruddhan Vasudevan and has 210 poems of Murugan. 

Murugan said his “greatest regret is that he had been a fool who had not assessed the environment at all” though the literary exile was never torturing. 

“Because I have a wide range of likes and interests, nothing tortures me. I am always ready to shift from one thing to another, he noted.” 

He feels that there can be neither a writer nor writing without freedom of expression. 

Asked if the literary exile motivated him to write more vigorously, he said, “It is not so. I have planned to read a lot of books that I wanted to read. My reading is faster than my writing.” 

Murugan’s earlier book “Pyre” had made it to the long list of this years DSC Prize. “That novel receiving such recognition has boosted my confidence in writing. Personally speaking, this is what made it significant for me,” he remarked.

Awards and recognitions have increased his sense of responsibility, he says, adding “I find it difficult to shape myself to match this sense of responsibility.” Murugan does not have any immediate plans on his next project. 

“It has been nearly three years since I submitted myself to fate without a plan in mind,” he says. 

But one topic which he has not written about as of yet and wants to deal with is about his ancestors. “I have undertaken a journey trailing the life of my forefathers. That is the one I want to complete. I do not know when it will be possible. It needs an atmosphere conducive to it,” concludes Perumal Murugan.