Image courtesy: Live Mint
It is always a shock when someone younger than you dies. Kiran was only four years younger (I’d imagined more years between us) but he always addressed me as `Shashitai’. Was there a mischievous glint in his eyes when he said that? Perhaps. We did not meet often. Like all writers we met only at seminars, festivals, conferences. I remember meeting him in Bombay, in Bangalore, in Munich. In a way we belonged to the same generation of English writers, somewhere between the old guard of the Famous Three (Narayan, Raja Rao and Mulk Raj Anand) and the writers who came later and made Indian writing known through the world. I first knew him as the writer of the Marathi novel Saat Sakkam Trechalis. He never wrote in Marathi again. I don’t know exactly what it was that made him so angry and bitter that he turned to English, but I saw an example of the hostility he must have faced in the nasty expletive a Marathi writer once used against him. Happily, Kiran got over whatever it was that had happened. And he was fortunate to be happily bilingual, he could write in both Marathi and English with equal ease. His books like Ravan and Eddie, Cuckold and God’s Little Soldier established him as one of the India’s best English writers. Cuckold was an amazing book, it is one of the books about which I think `I wish I had written it’. I met him during the launch of God’s Little Soldier in Bangalore. He was touchingly pleased that I had gone for his launch.
I am very glad that Kiran got both recognition and appreciation in his last years. Too often writers don’t get it in their life time. Writers like to be remembered through their books and I am sure Kiran will be remembered for his Cuckold, that it will continue to be read for years to come.