“They were shattered, especially my mother,” says writer Anees Salim, who hails from Varkala, a coastal town in Thiruvananthapuram. “My father, who worked in the Middle East, sent doleful letters to my mother and eldest sister. I stole and read them. They did not touch me then, but now they do.”
Salim, who won The Hindu Literary Prize for Fiction this year for his novel Vanity Bagh, has vivid memories of the day he dropped out. He stood in front of a mirror and spoke to himself. “It was a confidence-building speech on the importance of getting published. Then, I pretended to be talking to a television journalist about an award that I picked up for my debut novel,” says Salim, with a smile.