Remembering Nakulan: A poet-writer, his free verse and an imagined lover

If you feel a void in your heart, you will feel Nakulan’s words. They can fill that emptiness | All photos by RR Srinivasan

Naveenan is my name. I have been doing some writing for the past twenty five years. Not published a thing. That may be wrong—some fifteen pieces have been published so far, short stories, novels, poems. I didn’t receive any remuneration for thirteen of them. There was a cheque for the fourteenth and the amount realised after bank charges was four rupees and twenty five paise.”

The opening lines from poet-author Nakulan’s short story, ‘A Pound of Mutton’, are enough to offer a glimpse into the lives of most writers—underpaid, unspirited yet writing undauntedly.

According to popular writer Ashokamitran, who translated ‘A Pound of Mutton’ from Tamil to English, only a handful of writers can afford to live their life without distancing it from their writing. And Nakulan, he says, was one of them.

Those lines capture the typical Nakulan. He wrote a lot but he read far more, say those who knew Nakulan well. He was read by an eclectic bunch of readers, mostly because he broke all ‘rules’ of storytelling—both in theme and structure but without losing the purpose.

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