Author Kiran Nagarkar passed away at the age of 77, leaving behind a legacy which is memorable on paper, but controversial in real life. The Sahitya Kala Academy award winner was accused of alleged sexual misconduct by three women journalists in October last year, when the #MeToo Movement found its way to India. And yet, reading the virtual obituaries of the writer today, one feels as if many of his fans had already absolved him of all the allegations. He was heartbroken by the allegations, some wrote. It affected his health, many claimed. One twitter user, went to the length of writing that the #MeToo Movement and women who came forward with the accusations against the writer, “murdered” him. The proof of his innocence? His death.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Author Kiran Nagarkar has passed away at the age of 77.
  • The Sahitya Kala Academy award winner was accused of alleged sexual misconduct by three women.
  • A lot of virtual obituaries for the writer are choosing to celebrate his writing while omitting out the allegations made against him.
  • Is it fair to women who raised their voice against him?

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But one wonders, should we let death absolve stalwarts of any accusations of misdemeanours levied against them? Should we only celebrate an artist’s skill and forget the probability that he or she may have abused all the love and accolades we showered on them?

Reading the virtual obituaries of the writer today, one feels as if many of his fans had already absolved him of all the allegations.

And, as many have debated time and again, ever since #MeToo movement broke out in India, should we separate the art from the artist or not?

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Nagarkar was no doubt a literary giant, whose work has touched the lives of numerous readers. But can we solely celebrate his body of work, and pity that he passed away in such silence? Is it fair to point an accusatory finger at #MeToo survivors, for his silent exit from the stage? It shouldn’t have been this way, yes. But isn’t it disrespectful to women who spoke up, to conveniently ignore the #MeToo narrative and look at Nagarkar from a sympathetic gaze? While Nagarkar firmly denied all these allegations, the survivors stood by their word too. Believe all survivors, we say. But it seems like to many, belief only comes as per convenience.

Isn’t it disrespectful to women who spoke up, to conveniently ignore the #MeToo narrative and look at Nagarkar from a sympathetic gaze?

I know it is difficult for the author’s fans to write him off, especially when allegations (multiple, mind you) remained just that, allegations. It is human tendency to believe in those we love, readily.

In Nagarkar’s case, his fans fear losing the joy that his work brought them. The richness of his writing seems to be too precious, to be let go over these accusations. But the truth shall always remain that these allegations are as much part of Nagarkar’s legacy as was his work. That he got demoralised, that his health deteriorated aren’t the proof of his innocence, and while he takes the truth to his grave with him now, the women who stood up to speak are still alive. They have to live with the fact that someone they admired, made them uncomfortable. What they shouldn’t have to live with, is that people chose to whitewash their accusations, for the sake of their love for someone’s work.

The richness of his writing seems to be too precious, to be let go over these accusations?

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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