Keki N. Daruwalla

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Keki N. Daruwalla
Lahore, British India
Occupationpoet, writer
Alma materUniversity of Punjab
Notable worksApparition, Keeper of the Dead
Notable awardsSahitya Akademi Award (1984), Padma Sri

Keki N. Daruwalla (born 1937) is an Indian poet and short story writer in English.[1][2] He is also a former Indian Police Service officer. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, in 1984 for his poetry collection, The Keeper of the Dead, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[3] He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 2014.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla was born in Lahore to a Parsi family in 1937. His father, N.C. Daruwalla, was an eminent professor, who taught in Government College Lahore. Before the Partition of India, his family left undivided India in 1945 and moved to Junagarh and then to Rampur in India. As a result, he grew up studying in various schools and in various languages.[5][6]

He obtained his master's degree in English Literature from Government College, Ludhiana, University of Punjab spent a year at Oxford as a Queen Elizabeth House Fellow in 1980–81

He joined the Police Service in 1958. His work as a police officer offered him various opportunities to work in different party of the country and to face the harsh realities of life from which he drew the substance for his poetry. He has written 12 books and his first novel for Pepper and Christ was published in 2009.He received Commonwealth Poetry for his collection of poems, Landscape in the year 1987.


He joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1958, and was eventually appointed as a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on International Affairs. He subsequently was in the Cabinet Secretariat until his retirement.[1]

His first book of poetry was Under Orion, which was published by Writers Workshop, India in 1970. He then went on to publish his second collection Apparition in April in 1971 for which he was given the Uttar Pradesh State Award in 1972. His poems appeared in many poetry anthologies such as Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry [7] edited by Menka Shivdasani, and The Dance of the Peacock [8][9] edited by Dr Vivekanand Jha.

He won the Sahitya Akademi Award, given by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters, in 1984 and returned the same award in October, 2015 in protest and with a statement that "The organisation Sahitya Akademi has failed to speak out against ideological collectives that have used physical violence against authors".[10] Daruwalla did not take back his award even after Sahitya Akademi passed a resolution condemning the attacks on rational thinkers.[11] In an interview to The Statesman, Daruwalla expanded on why he did not take back his award, saying "what you do, you do once and you can’t be seen as giving back an award and then taking it back."[12] He received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Asia in 1987. Nissim Ezekiel comments "Daruwalla has the energy of the lion".


The Professor Condoles is a tragic poem by Keki N. Daruwalla. This poem is a professor's response to the death of an eleven-year-boy in an accident. In this poem the poet addresses to the brother of dead child. An accident is an unexpected occurrence and without design. It results into the death of an innocent child. It is a tragedy which encompasses a culture involving sin, guilt and hamartia.

Today accidents occur everywhere. This is the horrible cause of death of innocent people. The poem describes the tragic reality of the human life in the world. The poet uses the expressions like the blood clotting on the tarmac and a crowd thrombosed. The imagery of horizons awash with light and the canal dry as the udder of an old cow are evocative phrases. This poem is a fine blend of modern and post modern English Poetry.

  • In Morning Dew
  • Under Orion. Writers Workshop, India. 1970
  • Apparition in April. Writers Workshop, 1971.
  • Sword & abyss: a collection of short stories. Vikas Pub., 1979.
  • Winter poems. Allied Publishers, 1980.
  • The Keeper of the Dead. Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • Crossing of rivers. Oxford University Press, 1985.
  • Landscapes. Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • A summer of tigers: poems. Indus, 1995. ISBN 81-7223-201-2.
  • The Minister for Permanent unrest & other stories. Orient Blackswan, 1996. ISBN 81-7530-004-3.
  • Night river: poems. Rupa & Co., 2000. ISBN 81-7167-480-1.
  • The Map-maker: Poems. Orient Blackswan, 2002. ISBN 81-7530-048-5.
  • The Scarecrow and the Ghost. Rupa & Co., 2004. ISBN 81-291-0422-9.
  • A House in Ranikhet. Rupa & Co, 2003. ISBN 81-7167-961-7.[13]
  • Collected Poems (1970–2005). (Poetry in English). Penguin Books India., 2006. ISBN 978-0-14-306200-4
  • For Pepper & Christ. New Delhi: Penguin, 2010. ISBN 0143065815
  • Swerving to Solitude: Letters to Mama.. New Delhi: Simon & Schuster India, 2018. ISBN 0143065815

In popular culture[edit]

J. P. Dutta's Bollywood film Refugee is attributed to have been inspired by the story of Keki N. Daruwalla based around the Great Rann of Kutch titled "Love Across the Salt Desert"[14] which is also included as one of the short stories in the School Standard XII syllabus English textbook of NCERT in India.[15]

Appearances in the following poetry Anthologies[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Online poetry[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Keki N. Daruwalla The South Asian Literary Recordings Project. Library of Congress.
  2. ^ "A long story". The Indian Express. 12 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Award – English (Official listings)". Sahitya Akademi. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 25 January 2014. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Mapping memories". The Hindu. 4 June 2003.
  6. ^ "Keki Daruwalla". Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry". BigBridge.Org. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  8. ^ Grove, Richard. "The Dance of the Peacock:An Anthology of English Poetry from India" (current). Hidden Brook Press, Canada. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  9. ^ Press, Hidden Brook. "Hidden Brook Press". Hidden Brook Press. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Daruwalla returns his award". Scroll. 14 October 2015.
  11. ^ "The Statesman: After 54 days, Sahitya Akademi breaks silence". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  12. ^ Suman, Saket. "'We can only throw back our awards'". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  13. ^ "A third collection with variety". The Indian Express. 11 May 2003.
  14. ^ "Love Across the Salt Desert". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  15. ^ (iii) Supplementary Reader; Selected Pieces of General English for Class XII; English General – Class XII Archived 29 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Curriculum and Syllabus for Classes XI & XII; NCERT. Also posted at [1] / Archived 2 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Ten 20th Century Indian Poets". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  17. ^ "The Oxford India Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Book review: 'Twelve Modern Indian Poets' by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra". Retrieved 23 August 2018.

External links[edit]