Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Anil Ekbote - A Sensitive Writer Is No More

I met Anil Ekbote almost twelve years ago for the first time. I was invited by my good friend Sunil Jyoti's father, the late Shri J.R. Jyoti, to meet his classmates at the IGNOU's course on creative writing. I had told Jyoti saab, an avid ghazal writer and also a very funny middles writer, that I had just attempted and completed writing my first novel 'The Misfit' and even gave him the manuscript. He was pretty excited then after reading a bit and asked me to share the experience with his class. I missed my appointment a couple of Sundays due to my cricketing commitments but I made it on the third and was fortunate to meet some of the finest people who are still some of my best friends.

The biggest find of that class to me was Vinod Ekbote (who is no relation to Anil Ekbote saab) and we instantly hit it off with each other, having a chai at the corner Irani cafe on the Srinagar Colony road. Major Kiran was another great find, the irrepressible B.S.Murthy garu is another. The teacher of that Creative Writing class Shri Anil Ekbote, a frail, soft spoken gentleman who humoured a new writer like me in his class. I spoke about my experience in writing the book and soon everyone started talking about this and that and we had great fun.

I kept meeting them once in a while whenever they invited me to their get togethers which they organised even after the course was over. Vinod and I met often otherwise but at these get togethers I got to know them more.. Anil Ekbote would quietly make a point about writing, or some new avenue of writing, a new publisher, a new publication that was looking for writers etc. He seemed to have an enormous knowledge of stuff that was going on. Then employed with the APSEB, he was an avid writer and write everything from middles to short stories to children's stories to movie reviews and other stuff. He was active on Sulekha as well. It was during one such meeting that he gave me the address of Dahlia Publishers, which had offered me the first lifeline as a writer by signing a contract for my collection of children's stories. Dahlia finally never published mine, because I did not renew the contract but I hope they published him because his book was in a far more advanced stage than mine. We kept in touch over phone or email and the occasional meeting which was always enriched by some new information from his side that translated into some writing work for me. I valued all his advise highly.

When I invited him for the launch of 'The Men Within' he made the time to come from across the city. I was very glad to see him, Vinod, Kiran, B.S.Murthy in that little gathering of friends and family. Jyoti saab was no more - but he had published his book of middles 'When day Is Night' by then, later published again by Jaico. We all celebrated the event. Anil Ekbote and I kept in touch  and discussed the progress of the book and my other works as well. He retired from service sometime and settled down at his home in Kacheguda.

The last time Vinod and I met him was a couple of years ago when his wife passed away. He appeared completely shattered and we were deeply disturbed. Anil Ekbote was a sensitive person, too fragile it appeared for this world and its harsh realities. He loved his writing and would have happily written away forever if he had his way. His sensibilities were soft and mellow as well as he shied away from writing anything harsh, overly dramatic, and always wrote in an amused, gentle tone. I will always remember him as the poet, because he possessed the soul of one, gentle, removed from this world, yet doing what he loved. His daughter Aparna writes as well, for newspapers and other publications, and it was she who sent a mail ten days ago informing me of Anil Ekbote's demise.

I shall miss his presence as I am sure all others in the group do. I would have loved to have taken him to watch Golconda High School and get his critique on that - because despite his soft nature, he was pretty clear with his opinion on creative works. But for all that he has done and been to me, a huge thank you for Anil Ekbote. May his soul rest in peace.


john mascarenhas said...

I am looking out for my class mates from St. Pauls High School, Hyderguda. We had an Anil Ekbote in our school who fits your description of Anil. It would be nice it you can help me and our class mates to get in touch with his children. We hope to get other contacts through his children. If he is the same person he could also send a copy of the email to me to Hugh on the following email

We would be highly obliged if you are able to do this for me.

Harimohan said...

Hi John,
Anil unfortunately is no more. But I will check with his daughter Aparna and put her in touch with Akram. Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

shocked to now about his demise,and that too a year ago. Anil was agreat friend. Always eager to learn... no ego hassels. We met frequently in the 90's, and i would give him lessons on art criticism. Marathi culture and literature were areas of interest close to his heart. I know many of his batch mates from St. Pauls. Haji Jalal Darvesh, architect,teaches at CSIT college of Architecture, Secbad; Gadaveri Vinod, artist based at Delhi since 80's, also left us last year.
Hari, please do convey my heartfelt condolence to his daughter and family.

Harimohan said...

Will do Mohan.