Manju (Mist) is a novel by M. T. Vasudevan Nair published in 1964. The novel is set in the mountains and valleys of Nainital where Vimala Devi, a teacher in a boarding school, waits in hope for the winter of her discontent to vanish. The eco-feminist theme of patriarchal domination and exploitation gains more prominence in Manju, MT’s only novel with a female protagonist. The novel stands apart as set in a milieu different from the usual one, the Valluvanadan village.
The plot of the novel is allegedly similar to a Hindi story Parinde (Birds, 1956), by Nirmal Verma. However both MT and Verma have rejected these claims. MT said in an interview with India Today , “I don’t remember having ever read Verma’s story although we are very close friends. I wrote Manju immediately after I returned from a visit to Nainital.” Verma himself says it is ridiculous to accuse an author of MT’s calibre of plagiarism. “My story’s English translation was published only five or six years ago by HarperCollins. I don’t think MT reads Hindi works in original. So there is no substance to the charge that MT had read it before he wrote his novel,” says Verma.