His name was tipped for the yearâs Sahitya Akademi award, a book he wrote in 2010 was translated and published to rave reviews last year - nothing could have gone wrong for Tamil author and literary chronicler Perumal Murugan who belongs to a tiny town in south Tamil Nadu, Tiruchengode. The author however, has been forced to flee from his hometown along with his family over the contents of his book Mathorubhagan which depicts the life of a childless couple a century ago based in Tiruchengode, a town which practiced âtraditional free, consensual sex ritualsâ giving childless couples a one-chance opportunity at continuing their lineage.
The children would be godâs own gift to the parents. In the last week of December, groups of people assembled in the town burnt copies of his book and demanded a ban on the book. From threatening, abusive calls made to him to instigative posters put up all across the town, members belonging to Hindutva organisations like the Hindu Munnani and RSS along with caste groups protested resulting in a complete bandh in the village.
Following the protests, Murugan issued a clarification and even went to the extent of offering to delete all the controversial part of the book before he took the extreme step. At a peace meeting in Namakkal on January 12, Murugan along with police protection met members of various Hindu outfits and signed an agreement promising to issue an unconditional apology, delete controversial portions in the book, withdraw unsold copies in the market and also not write on controversial subjects which could hurt sentiments of people.
Did he have a choice? In a long and poignant letter thanking everyone who helped in his struggle to ensure his freedom to write, Murugan has said that âwriter Perumal Murugan is deadâ and that despite everything, the issues created by âdifferent groups and individualsâ will persist on for his other novels.
He writes the status as Perumal Murugan, the person, talking about him the writer. Note: Dear Friends, the information below will remain as my status message for two days. Later Perumal Murugan will be relieved from all social networking site activities. He thanks all the well wishers for supporting him on social networking sites.Pe. Muruganâs release for Writer Perumal Murugan Writer Perumal Murugan is dead. He is not a God to resurrect. He doesnât believe in re-birth also. The person who lives here after will just be an ordinary cheap editor Pe.Murugan. I sincerely thank the press, media, readers, friends, writers, groups, political parties, party leaders and students who fought in support of Permual Murugan and his freedom to write. This problem will not end with âMadhorubhaganâ novel alone. Different groups and individuals will persistently create problems for his other novels tooâŚ
Hence Perumal Murugan has taken a final decision which is as follows:
1. Apart from Perumal Muruganâs compilations and publication of books, the books, novel, short-stories, essays and poems written by him will all be withdrawn by him. None of his works will be sold to the public anymore.
2. I request the publishers Kaalachuvadu, Natrinai, Adayalam, Malaigal and Kayalkavin who published Perumal Muruganâs books to stop selling them. Pe.Murugan will take care of the necessary compensation for that.
3. Those who have already purchased Perumal Murugans books have all the right to burn them. If anybody has incurred a loss and they approach with the grouse, they will also be compensated with the loss amount.
4. Perumal Murugan will not participate in any literary functions in future.
5. I request all caste, religious groups and political parties not to involve in any protests or create any problems since all the books are withdrawn. Please leave him.
Thanks to all! Murugan is not just the author of six novels, he is also one of the most prominent Kongu writers. A strong campaigner against the concept of rote learning which used repetition as a technique for memorisation he even campaigned against schools that propagated this method, said The Hindu in an article by historian A.R . Venkatachalapathy.
The book which is now surrounded by controversy was first released in 2001. Itâs English translation was released in 2014. However, for years after its release, the book offended nobody. According to Murugan himself in an interview with The Hindu, caste and Hindu organisations working together were not willing to relent despite him promising to make changes in the bookâs next editon. He then said that it was the work of caste organisations running schools in his district looking for an opportunity to start protests against his book up after his campaigns against the rote system and caste practices.
A few days back, he issued a clarification reported in another Hindu report that stated, ââMadhorubaganâ only portrayed the sufferings of childless couple, particularly women, and it dealt with the lifestyle dating back to more than a century. âNovels are written on imaginary concepts and no one can say that whatever appeared in them dealt with reality.ââ While the world focuses on the importance of freedom of speech, here is a similar situation in which a man has publicly given up everything unable to fight against the forces that are trying to silence him.
Different groups and individuals who instigated this fire has refused to die down and along with it may have extinguished future works of a great Tamil writer.