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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Obituary: Renuka Nayyar was wedded to Mr. Pen

Senior author-journalist succumbs to cancer, literati remember her fondly.

punjab Updated: Dec 26, 2017 14:38 IST
Nirupama Dutt
Nirupama Dutt
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Renuka Nayyar
Renuka Nayyar (HT File)

In a story by Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam, two female friends meet after years and one asks the other “Are you still single?”

The other one who has become a writer replies that she has married a young man. When asked his name her reply is: “Mr. Pen!”

So it was with Renuka Nayyar, who entered as a lone woman in a newsroom made up of men with a pen in hand, and paved the way for others of her tribe. A prolific writer and columnist who authored eight books succumbed to cancer in a Ludhiana hospital where she was being looked after by her brother. She had been fighting cancer for over a year.

A gutsy single woman, she took up gender and rural societal issues and was awarded the Ladli National Media Award 2010 for her column ‘Adhi Duniya’ published in the Hindi and Punjabi editions of a local newspaper.

She was also the first woman journalist of this conservative paper she joined in the 1970s. After retiring as assistant editor, she took to writing books and published five. Her novella ‘Newsroom’, based on her experiences, won her appreciation.

“I have recounted what a woman pioneer has to face in an all-male world and recorded the good, the bad and the ugly as I experienced it,” Renuka would say with her familiar chuckle and run her fingers through her short hair.

It wasn’t easy to move on in a patriarchal set-up without a sugar daddy, conciliation here and there and heartbreak too but our Renu went through it all.

She was a determined soul indeed. Recently the Kendriya Hindi Parishad announced an award of₹1 lakh to the book. It is sad that she will not be there to receive it early next year. Sad also that she died a week before her birthday on January 1.

She managed many impossible feats like doing a Ph D in Hindi literature and that to with famous writer Virender Mendiratta. Most recent was biography of her guide titled ‘Qissa Ek Darvesh Ka’. Mendiratta recalled her as “A hard working and focussed researcher who travelled to meet Hindi poet Mahadivi Verma and many others for her research.

Poet Chander Trikha said, “She was amazing. As soon as she finished one book, she planned the next and accomplished her goal in a short time.” I recall while still in a job she would go to a nearby masjid where she learned Urdu from a maulvi.

Her other books include ‘Gramin Patrika’, ‘Adhi Duniya’ and ‘Tapdi Pagdandion ke Raahi’ (interviews with contemporary women writers) and ‘Agnipath ke Raahi’, essays on male writers.

She would have moved on to write more but health was not one her side. Anyway, I feel we will meet again somewhere to share a cup of tea and a puff of nicotine. So long Renu!

First Published: Dec 26, 2017 14:38 IST