Determined to dedicate myself to writing after I retired from teaching in 2000, my first thought was to capture the history of Marabastad (The Asiatic Bazaar), the location in which I had lived as a child. I immediately set about interviewing people who had lived in the location. During my interviews with Sinthumbi Naidoo, he made me aware of his concern that Tamil religious practices were losing their meaning for Tamil South Africans and suggested that I work with his son, Ronnie, a poosari, to put together a manual that explained the meaning of the rites. That is what we did and A Little Book of Tamil Religious Rituals was published in October 2004. In between interviews for my book on Marabastad, I began recording my experiences as a teacher in Limpopo Province and day-to-day happenings, my friendships, my hijacking, a wedding in the family, among other things and compiled a book of short stories, Jail Birds and Others , which was published in December 2004. Soon afterwards, I completed Stories from the Asiatic Bazaar and it was published in 2007.
In 1994, South Africa became a democratic country but the racism into which we had been socialised did not disappear at the stroke of a pen and writers continue to reflect experiences gained through racial and cultural balkanisation. Consequently, varying racial, ethnic and cultural experiences, do not find affinity across the board. And publishers, concerned only with markets, are unwilling to takes risks with unknown writers. They told me time and again that there was no market for my work so I decided to go into publishing. I have published A Little Book of Tamil Religious Rituals, Stories from the Asiatic Bazaar, Monkey Business by my sister, Seetha Ray, and am working on a book of children’s plays by my brother Seeni Naidoo, a short story that he has written, more short stories, a novel and three novellas and children’s stories that I have written.
I spent the years 1977 to 1983, involved in Anti-SAIC and UDF campaigns, which inspired me to write a number of plays: We 3 Kings, a farce about ‘Indian’ elections, Ikhayalethu, about dispossession, Masks, the search for African identity. One of my revues, The Masterplan, a comic interpretation of separate development and the Tricameral Parliament, was banned in September 1983. My last play Flight from the Mahabarath, written sometime in the 1990s, is a feminist critique of the epic.
All my plays have now been published under the title WIP Theatre Plays. (WIP = Work-in-Progress)
Going through my papers, I discovered a number of articles written over the years so I revised them and put them all together with new articles. They include reflections on drama, reactions to apartheid, reflections on writing, my joy at discovering Milan Kundera and my attempt to understand the functions of religion and democracy in a society.
In our highly technological world we live in a state of constant flux because of continuous new developments. Everything becomes outdated in no time; email for instance is already being referred to as old-fashioned.
Take the cell phone and how it has evolved over the course of a few decades and how it has changed our lives. It started off as a bulky, heavy object with limited functions but quickly evolved to its present diverse forms with a multiplicity of functions. At first it was simply a telephone. Now it is also a camera, it provides internet and email services and allows us to type and send messages and pictures.
And it has made huge changes in our lives. It gives us instant communication far and wide. People in rural areas are no longer isolated because of it. It allows us to deal immediately with emergencies; to access banking services; to share experiences and through the Internet to create communities of people across the globe.