BY Vani IN Guest post

Can Salman Rushdie help: What about writers who can’t return awards? [DailyO]

If only I had an award to return! Being a fledgling writer, I felt a compelling need to join the cause for “free speech”, but I did not even have a piddling memento to forsake. In a country which is more obsessed with Bigg Boss than books, it was not surprising to see how it made more news to return an award than getting one. Taking a cue, what if our Bollywood stars started to do a Nayantara Sahgal, and Shakti Kapoor gave up his Best Villain Award.

Irony is, hatemongers care two hoots about who wins these awards and far less about who returns them. No wonder the cynics among them now want our much acclaimed writers to return their cash prizes, knowing too well that writers have to struggle even to foot their bills. The royalty one earns from books can make one cry or laugh depending on their sense of humour.

But protest we must! So I spent many a sleepless nights thinking about anything valuable among my possessions that could make headlines to return. What about my Miss Fresher title? Or the gold medals from my university? But none of these came from the government in recognition of my literary genius. Write an anti-regime book, perhaps? They make as much news, and if you are lucky enough to be trolled or inked on the book’s release, you have a bestseller in your hands!

While I can afford to be humorous about my intent to return an award, it is only because I have yet to earn one. It must not have come easy for those who gave up the one thing that distinguished their work from the ordinary. After having spent much of my idle time munching on the right way to protest, I only wish someone came up with another ingenious idea that did not involve returning anything, maybe Salman Rushdie could point us in a direction! Till that time I’m still what I was as a kid who wrote that essay, “How would I help the weak students if I won the scholar badge”. In that case, the title of this article can easily be, “How would I protest if I won a Sahitya Akademi Award”!


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