On Saturday noon, journalist and writer Manoj Nair was found dead at his rented apartment in Fort Kochi. Darson Antony, his landlord, found the body when he visited Manoj on Saturday, after he could not reach him on phone for two days.
Manoj, who has been living alone in Fort Kochi, appeared to have died of health issues at least two days before his body was found. “We are not sure yet, the post-mortem result has to come. But it seems to be health issues,” says Leon, a friend of Manoj.
He had for years, worked as a journalist in Ernakulam and Delhi, before moving to Kochi and working for the Kochi Muziris Biennale. “He is originally from Irinjalakuda, Thrissur. He first worked for the Indian Express in Kochi and then different publications in Delhi, such as the Asian Age, Economic Times, Outlook Magazine and Hindustan Times. He began shuttling to Kochi in 2010 and by 2013, moved base,” says Girish, photographer, who has earlier worked with Manoj. He has come to Kochi for the funeral of his late friend.
On Friday, The Hindu’s Metro Plus had published a detailed interview of Manoj, about the new book he has finished writing, and his interest in music. Only, Manoj would already have been dead when the story appeared, and no one knew.
The new book is on alternate music in India, titled Between The Rock and a Hard Place. It is to come out next year, published by Harper Collins. “My publishers want to change the title to India Rocks, but my whole premise is that India does not rock,” Manoj had said in his interview to the Metro Plus. Manoj played a saxophone and he practiced every night, just as he wrote every day.
“He wrote a lot about art, he was an art critic,” says Leon. Manoj’s first book Pencil Sketches: Portraits from the World of Indian Art, Cinema, Literature and Music came out in 2014. The Times of India reports that he has been working on yet another book – a novel tentatively titled Dictionary of an Alcoholic. Curiously, his Facebook user name is Kudiyan – which in Malayalam means drunkard.
Bose Krishnamachari, Kochi Biennale co-founder, when asked for his comments on Manoj, wrote: “A life of a genius is always unfit for the normal minds and places, Manoj Nair was one of them and looks like he had wasted many unwritten magical words.”
Manoj leaves behind his wife, a school teacher in Andhra, his daughter studying in the US and his son, a tenth grader.