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"VS Naipaul’s Ghost Haunts POC characters of White Authors" by Shahriar Shaams

The late Trinidadian author’s ghost has lately been observed hovering around the merry colored-creations of several well-meaning white authors. “We’re just fed up. He shows up every time we have a character named Radhika or Yasmeen and tries to make out with them,” said Marianne K., author of I Said No. “More than once I’ve thought of informing law enforcement,” she said, adding that “There has to be a safe environment to write!”

Academics familiar with the works of VS Naipaul, known for his seminal novels, House for Mr Biswas and A Bend in the River, have expressed reservations at his ghost’s erratic behavior. They fear his after-life shenanigans will come back to hurt their careers. They have husbands to feed, children to send to Coachella, they said.

John Harris John, bestselling author of Innocent Girl, has been a particularly serious victim of this in his new novel Sensitive Girl. “I have a scene where Amina, the ‘sensitive’ girl in the story, invites the boy John from her MFA class for her birthday and makes biryani for everyone,” John said, “They discuss the particulars of this strange and tasteful food—this is based on my own MFA days, so it’s 100% authentic—and he asks her about the difference between Kacchi and Tehari. I figured it’s a good way of educating my readers on the many colorful variations in the food of other cultures, y’know, but Mr Naipaul’s ghost saw fit to barge in right away. ‘It’s rice, you idiot. Eat the fucking rice,” he kept berating my character. And since the character, John, is loosely based on me, it felt like he was berating me.

John Harris John has since been too afraid to go back to his writing. He is not alone. The Nobel Laureate’s ghost has been a nuisance to the wider, white writing community.

To combat this issue, John, Marianne, and their cohorts have decided to organize a séance. “We have quite an exciting night planned,” They said, “Holding hands, we’ll try to banish his evil spirit from our realm with recitations from Maya Angelou’s poetry.”

When asked what they plan to do if the method does not work, Marianne said, “We’ll have no other way than to call the cops on him then. It’s a matter of our safety at this point.”

As the event drew closer, the authors gathered around the cul-de-sac, exchanging stories of the assaults they had to undergo from Naipaul’s ghost. “He came up to Rajiv, a supporting character I wrote to complement Rachel’s workplace, and I swear he grabbed his hair in a fist, and shouted: ‘POC? More like piece of shit!’—Can you imagine what I had to go through? I spent hours on twitter stalking Indian guys to research him!” Said one fellow writer to his colleague.

The day grows damp. Huddled in a circle, a candle draining out in full force in the middle, the chants start to envelop the room. Visions of friendly allies at Bengali aqiqahs and Tamil weddings dominate the imagery, baiting the infamous scourge to rise up to the occasion and fall prey to their trap, for these saviors, valuable contributors of several online magazines, are the true fighters, willing to go any lengths on twitter—the real Area of Darkness—to preserve their beloved, pristine multiculturalism.

Shahriar Shaams lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Shahriar’s essays and stories have previously appeared in the journals Singapore Unbound, Third Lane, Six Seasons Review and Jamini, and in the literary pages of the Dhaka Tribune and The Daily Star.


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