M.N. Vijayan shuffles off this mortal coil in the middle of press conference

My Mallu friend who pointed out this news to me in a news paper was both disturbed and amused. He said it was startling to see this guy, who had been a major intellectual icon, suddenly, unceremoniously tilt his head back, look heavenwards, and cease to be.

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was he poisoned? My husband seems to think so, considering the fact that he was smiling away, giving a speech, and then after he is handed a glass of water he suddenly, mid-smile, cops it, his eyes rolling to the back of his head. It seemed to take a while before anyone actually realized that he had died. He was rushed to the hospital but he had already passed on. My Mallu friend’s theory is that he had a heart attack because of too much excitement and was ecstatic (check out his smile) because he had just won a case that he had been fighting against the government (not sure what exactly it was). In any case…what a way to die! Can you imagine a more fitting end to this guy’s career? There he was, in the thick of his career, winning and grinning away, at the ripe old age of 77, and without pain or any other sort of dramatic preface one expects from death, he just…exits. That is how I would like to go. Without warning. With a smile on my face.

The macabre comedy in his sudden death could not help but strike our Mallu friend (and me and my husband) as we looked at the photos in the newspaper. It shot all three of us into a fit of embarrassed giggles that somewhat worried another friend sitting with us, although, after a while it became impossible for even him to keep a straight face. Its almost as if his spirit, happy with the course of events, suddenly just said “oh…sod it…” and flits off into the void to converse with Freud and Marx.

Anyway, this is my idea of a thoughtful obituary. Feel free to make jokes at my funeral. I shall supply (preemptively) the rum and coke. You bring the peanuts. In the end, I think death is possibly our finest, often funniest moment. Its the last laugh.

I once met an American Hari Krishna who told me he was trying to master a mantra so that he would utter it at all times, unconsciously, in between doing various tasks of the day. The reason for this, he told me, was that when he died he wanted the last words coming out of his mouth NOT to be “Ohhhh SHIIIIIIIT” but instead something he had chosen to say. Well, our dearly departed M.N. Vijayan may not have planned it, but he exited with chosen words on his lips and a smile that remained till death, on his face. One can only applaud him for being so incredibly “there” up to the last.

Here’s the clip, to be watched with respect and a smile. I give you M.N. Vijayan’s exit.

Thrissur, Oct. 3: Prof. M. N. Vijayan, who greatly influenced the contemporary Kerala culture as a radical thinker, literary critic, teacher and cultural commentator, died after collapsing at a press meet at the Press Club here today. He was 77 and is survived by wife and two children.Vijayan was rushed to the Amala Hospital here, where he was pronounced dead by doctors. Vijayan broke a new ground in Malayalam literary criticism in 1950s by submusing yardsticks of Marxian social realism and Freudian psycho-analysis in the study of literary works.

He became a powerful presence in Malayalam literature at a young age by writing appreciations of the works of veteran poet Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon. By mid-1960s, Vijayan broke out of the label of a literary critic in the academic sense by directing his intellectual pursuit to a wider social, political and cultural sphere. An astute scholar, he was largely instrumental in introducing and elucidating radical and humanist literary and philosophic works and modern approches to Malayalam readers. In his later years, especially after retirement from teaching profession, Vijayan spent much of his creative energy as a frontline campaigner of leftist cultural positions.For several years, he headed the pro-CPI (M) cultural outfit Purogamna Kala Sahitya Sanghom before he fell out with the party leadership as part of his unrelenting struggle against neo-liberalist compromises.

Born in 1930 in a family of straitened means at Kodungalur in Thrissur district, Vijayan joined the pro-Left Students Federation of India during his college days in Kochi. He later dissociated himself from the Communist party after being attracted to radical humanist ideas of M N Roy and Jayaprakash Narain.After completing Masters in Malayalam literature from Madras University, Vijayan returned to Kerala and taught in government colleges. He spent major part of his career as a teacher in Thalassery.

During 1970s, Vijayan renewed his connections with the Marxist party without accepting any position and had spent much of his creative energy holding lectures across the state. Most of these lectures have been compiled into collections which have a wide readership.He also kept away from established cultural institutions like Sahitya Academy and refused to accept any state-sponsored awards.After his retirement from service, Vijayan edited the Deshabhimani weekly and served as the President of Purogamana Kala Sangham.But, a few years back, he dissociated himself from the Sangham after his political and cultural stances found at variance with the official line often pursued by the party leadership.Vijayan and some of his close followers, however, continued to air their views fearlessly through the columns of a host of publications like Padam. (Agencies)

story from chennaionline

This is a visual tribute to M.N. Vijayan. Goodbye and keep on keeping on.


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