“It has been long 27 years since I came to Sundarbans first with Brother Gaston Dayanand and became involved with the people here,” Lapierre, who comes to this South 24 Parganas town almost every year, said at a felicitation function organised for him.
“When I come here from France, I feel exhausted. But when I return, the love that I am showered with here and the interaction with the locals inspire me to think and work afresh. Then I look forward to coming here again,” said the septuagenarian novelist, who had his wife Dominique by his side at the function.
He provides funds from the royalty he gets from his popular novel ‘City of Joy’ and ‘A Thousand Suns’ for the treatment of tuberculosis patients, mostly rickshaw pullers and bidi industry workers, here. The work is done by an NGO Southern Health Improvement Society, who organised the felicitation function.
Lapierre said there are a lot of problems facing the people of Sundarbans, like lack of education and health facilities besides social problems. To solve them, the locals should go to public representatives, ministers and the government, he said.
“I am helping and if the government comes forward, there will be no problems... NGOs like SHIS should work to eradicate social evils like cruelty to women. I will continue to think and work for the people of the Sundarbans as long as I live. My royalty will continue and my friends will work when I am no more,” Lapierre said.
Lapierre keeps with him a bell carried by the rickshaw-pullers of Kolkata.
“It (the bell) is always with me. It gives me the courage to go on with life,” said Lapierre, who had written City of Joy with a poor rickshaw puller as the protagonist.