Victor Ramraj and the lost V.S. Naipaul

My FB friend Hal Wake invited folks to play this game called The One That Got Away. That sparked a memory which I shared on Facebook and thought, why not here? It concerns my dear friend Victor Ramraj, who had written a great deal about V.S. Naipaul. Vic was an English professor at University of Calgary — a Canadian leader in postcolonial studies, sometime editor of the periodical ARIEL. Somehow, after considerable back and forth, he convinced Naipaul, a Nobel-Prize winner, to come to Calgary to give a major address. Probably it was part of a conference, I forget. Vic had everything lined up. He was so excited. Then, suddenly, someone in administration told him Naipaul was not coming after all. Turned out Naipaul wanted to bring his wife . . . I believe they had married recently . . . and had asked the university to pick up the tab for her plane ticket from England. Someone in admin said no, they would not do that. Nobody touched base with Vic, who had done all the arranging and probably would have made up the difference himself. They just said no dice. Naipaul said fine, to hell with you, I’m not coming . . . or words to that effect. And that was that. Vic was incensed, of course. Never had I seen him so angry. Never, in fact, had I seen him even slightly angry.  He died a few years ago, to the sorrow of many . . . . I don’t think he ever forgave those who made the decision to forego a presentation by V.S. Naipaul for the cost of a plane ticket. As to the image above, that’s Vic and Ruby in Dawson City, Yukon — incomprehensible, probably, unless you turn to more memories of Victor Ramraj.

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