“The censor’s voice still sits inside my head.” Even when 50-year-old Tamil author Perumal Murugan makes the most dramatic and controversial statements, he says them softly, almost apologetically, a gentle smile traveling up to his eyes – as if he is sorry for failing your expectation of him. The celebrated writer who was hounded and threatened into silence for over a year for his book “One Part Woman” or Madhorubhagan had famously declared his death on Facebook in January 2015.
“Author Perumal Murugan has died,” he wrote “he is no god, so he is not going to resurrect himself. Nor does he believe in reincarnation. From now on, Perumal Murugan will survive merely as the teacher he has been.”
For 18 months, Professor Murguan did not write even a sentence, which, he told made him feel like “a walking corpse.” It is poetry – and some help from the Madras High Court that literally ordered him – “Write again.”
In July, the Madras High Court said Mr Murugan’s right to express himself must be protected. “In this case, the voice of censor actually overwhelmed my own voice. I am not very sure if one can overcome it easily, but I am trying, I am struggling to do that,” he said to
Professor Murugan was hounded by Hindu and caste-based groups which demanded a ban on his book Madhorubhagan saying it was derogatory in its depiction of women and rituals. The novel revolves around an ancient tradition that allowed childless women to have sex outside marriage on one night in at a local festival in the hope of bearing a child.
After the court order, the author is back with a collection of 200 poems – A Coward’s Song. “The poems that I have written, I feel that I am once again alive. I have so much to say, so much to say in my heart. Now I have the faith and the belief that I will be able to write,” he said. On the title of the anthology, he adds, “there is place for those not brave in this world as well.”