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‘Neer Vilayattu’ (translated now in English as ‘The Well’) is a short story which Perumalreceived a lot of attention. It is also a personal favourite. Among waterbodies, the one with which I am most familiar is the well. My first glimpse of the river and the sea happened in my teens. They did not have quite the same appeal as the well – a waterbody created artificially by man.

I am familiar with many types of wells. No two are alike. The shape and depth of each well would make me curious to learn more about it. I’d imagine each well actually coming up to me and throwing some kind of challenge at me. Different kinds of wells feature in my stories. Some have been shaped as symbols and metaphors. Without my being aware of it, a well would arrive to no apparent purpose and inhabit a particular place in the story.

Of my several stories centred on the well, I consider this particular story worthy of being called the best. ‘Neer Vilayattu’ developed into a narrative that could accommodate many readings. The language of the story, too, evolved to suit that possibility. I wrote the story fifteen years ago. I still feel a kind of dread when I read it today.

20 July 2016

Chennai

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Perumal Murugan’s story, The Well, is now available for free on the Juggernaut app here.

 

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