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Vijay Nair - Rest in Peace

The IWP was deeply saddened by the recent passing of 2007 alumnus Vijay Nair. In this guest post, KR Usha (IWP '11, India) offers her remembrances.

Why don’t you speak to Vijay Nair, your fellow Bangalore writer, the people at the US Consulate in Chennai suggested after answering my many questions as patiently as they could. Here, they said, handing me a sheet of paper with his phone number and email. I was preparing to leave for the International Writing Program in Iowa City in August of 2011 and apart from practical tips, wanted some reassurance that I was doing the right thing in making this three-month diversion in a strange place, and among strangers. “It will be the experience of a lifetime,” I recall Vijay telling me, “it is up to you to take as much as you want from the program. You could use the time to shut yourself up in your room and write or get out and get a slice of American life … you will meet amazing writers and read their work, make fast friends and have wonderful conversations, and don’t worry, you’ll have enough money and enough warm clothes.” 

On my return from the program – after a happy three months – I met Vijay Nair for the first and only time at a dinner organised by a fellow writer to celebrate her newly published novel. In person Vijay turned out to be as warm, friendly, and candid as he had sounded on the phone. We swapped stories about the program, I met his editor wife Dipti with whom I had corresponded over email earlier. Later I learnt that we were on the same college group, Vijay having graduated a few years after me.  His classmates have left warm tributes to him on the Facebook page, mourning the loss of a friend whom they remembered from college as soft spoken and a gentleman, simultaneously serious and funny, and a budding poet whose talent was evident right then.

The literary fraternity in Bangalore was shocked and saddened to read in the papers that Vijay Nair had passed away suddenly of cardiac arrest on Friday, September 6th. A writer of many talents, Vijay was a playwright, a novelist, a writer of non-fiction, and a critic. He had his own theatre group, Still Waters, which staged plays and conducted workshops, and I recall he held several creative writing workshops at the British Library. His workshops with children and young adults particularly endeared him to his young charges. He had collaborated on the screenplay of an indie film, a telling portrait of Bangalore, the IT city.  Clearly, here was a writer just beginning to travel simultaneously  on several roads, one of the few blessed with talent and ability in many literary forms, of which we had seen the merest efflorescence.  RIP Vijay Nair.

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