A TRIBUTE by Sally Rampersad Radford

A TRIBUTE by Sally Rampersad Radford
Photo : V.S. Naipaul receives his Nobel Prize for Literature at Stockholm’s Konserthuset from Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf

The late Mrs Pat Naipaul taught me Latin while her husband was writing THE MIDDLE PASSAGE. Gaining a distinction in the Cambridge School Certificate and winning the governor's Jerningham SIlver Medal, I was able to apply Latin to my  work  in paleontology  in the petroleum industry.  

Here is my tribute to the   Mahatma of the West Indies, departing for his heavenly abode.

The descendant of Brahmins was born in the ancestral stronghold of his aristocratic Capildeo clan, Anand Bhavan, an Indo-Aryan jewel, the only example of   Gupta architecture of AD 5 in the Americas.  Given a lyrical Brahmin name, Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul excelled in Queen's Royal College, another imperial gem resembling a Rajasthan palace. Buoyed by a state scholarship, he entered   the city of dreaming spires to study English Literature at  University College Oxford in 1950, as Europe  recovered from World War II.

Eschewing return to his creole birthplace, Vidia  published  over 30 books in Britain.  Like most of the Indo-Caucasian indentured immigrants in the wake of  Queen Isabella's ships , he  became a true child  of West India  and West Indians salute  him as our own Mahatma, if not Messiah. 

Outspoken and incisive,  he was knighted in 1990,  inspiring  numerous writers including women. 

In 2001 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, a medal and fund worthy of the controversial philosopher, who began his acceptance speech thus- 

"I have given readings and not lectures. I have told people who ask for lectures that I have no lecture to give. And that is true. It might seem strange that a man who has dealt in words and emotions and ideas for nearly fifty years shouldn’t have a few to spare, so to speak. But everything of value about me is in my books. Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn’t fully formed. I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will – with luck – come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise ..."

As his Hindu compatriots reel from existential threats, may he rest in well-deserved Nirvana.

His works are listed below-