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A collaborative tribute to “brilliant” UCLan lecturer who “challenged” students

Posted on - 11th December, 2014 - 7:33pm | Author - | Posted in - Opinion, UCLan

dinesh

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It’s with a huge amount of sadness that I write about the death of Dinesh Allirajah.

The man that I knew was both an incredible performance poet and a short-story writer. He was also a Father and partner, spent time teaching at Edge Hill University and undoubtedly a great many things that I never took the time to ask about.

All of those things are true but it is as a Creative Writing lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire that he affected me.

When people die, we say nice things about them. When a teacher dies, they are rarely spoken badly of. I don’t want either of those things to somehow nullify the truth of the following words from me and others.

Dinesh taught me that the work we create has value. If we’ve got a story to tell, through whichever medium, it is always important to tell it. It doesn’t matter if it’s read by a million people or if it’s only a method through which we cope with the world. It’s important, first and foremost, to write for yourself.

After years of jaded lecturers and teachers,  I really can’t put enough emphasis on the level of self-worth this instilled even in the limited time we spent together.

Read his work here and read other tributes below

Robin Purves, English Lit and Creative Writing lecturer, UCLan

Dinesh Allirajah has been part of the Creative Writing team at UCLan since the very inception of the CW programme.

Although only ever employed here on a part-time basis, his influence has been central to the success of the course, and to the many students he taught.  Dinesh was the recipient of a Golden Rose award, voted for by his students, in the first year these teaching awards ran and his students have always spoken gratefully about the passionate interest he took in their work, providing the most detailed and insightful feedback and enthusiastic one-to-one advice sessions.

He was a friendly, hard-working colleague, with a dry but always benign sense of humour, who was always ready with helpful contributions in meetings and he will be much missed by his friends and colleagues on the staff.  It is the students who will miss him most of all, perhaps – the students who learned from him, who received his help and his focussed attention on their written work, and also the students who will miss out on that opportunity now that he has gone.

Dinesh’s own writing was of the highest quality and I would recommend anyone interested to take a look at some of the work he has published, or to search out his blog, which he was writing even while he was in hospital, and writing so well that I let myself be convinced he would make a full recovery just on the basis of the quality of his prose alone.

Our thoughts go out to Dinesh’s partner and to his children at what can only be an extremely difficult and painful time for them.

Teri Moran, UCLan Creative Writing alumni

Honestly, the best word to describe Dinesh is “good.” And if I’d have used that word in any of the work I showed to him over the three years I had him as a teacher I’m sure he would have thrown a thesaurus at me.

But, Dinesh was good. He had a good heart, and truly cared about his students as people with young minds that needed guidance and nurturing. Dinesh always used to say that my writing was “rose-tinted”. He used to say I was overly compassionate, overly optimistic, overly nostalgic.

Even his criticisms were cushioned, and in a nutshell that sums him up. He was a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person who will be missed by everyone who spent days and evenings with him, sat around a table, listening to him go off topic in that funny little way that only he could. Sleep well, Big D.

Chris Parkes, Edge Hill Creative Writing alumni 

I was deeply saddened to learn of Dinesh’s passing. University wasn’t really for me in the end and Dinesh was the first tutor we had, and he pushed me to adapt and would always given an honest opinion, his criticisms we’re always right and for an upcoming writer like myself and my class mates, his wisdom was a massive help.

In my writing I was always stubborn and it wasn’t until Dinesh stepped in, did I realise how wrong I was in being so, and how I could open up even more so in my writing. Dinesh was always witty and was never to busy for anyone and always eager to help. Thank you Dinesh, you’ll be missed by all.

Joshua Mahoney, UCLan Creative Writing alumni

Dinesh Allirajah was legitimately one of the coolest people I ever met.

He saw through my b*****it and bravado to a scared boy afraid of looking like an idiot. He took my negativity and without fail turned it into something positive. He always had time for anyone with a big smile and a hearty “hello”.

The man had a gift for seeing your potential and showing it to you and the world is poorer for his absence.

Rachael Williams, UCLan Creative Writing student

A wonderful person whom I have been lucky enough to know and be taught by. A truly gifted writer, who saw something worthwhile in my own work and for that I am irrevocably blessed and grateful. I’m in awe of the fact that, despite what you were going through, you remained true to yourself; sarcastic and self-deprecating right ’til the end.

The worlds of students and short stories has lost something of great value.

Joseph Kennedy, UCLan Creative Writing alumni

I remember one of the basic rules of writing that Dinesh taught me, ‘use the time of a total stranger in such a way that they will not feel the time was wasted’. When I met Dinesh, he was a stranger, and I can wholeheartedly clarify that not one moment of my time did he waste.

After three years of his guidance, moulding and shaping my mind as a writer, I felt grateful that Dinesh had shared his talent. He became a friend, a role model and a hero. It saddens me that he won’t ever wake up with a loved ones eyes upon him, when so many looked at him with adoration.

I don’t know what Dinesh believed in when he looked up, but when he looked ahead I know he saw young minds with which he could be a positive, creative influence. Dinesh had faith in those around him. He wasn’t the kind of man to criticize, he was the kind of man who would help to create, a man who wanted to empower the beauty of original thought. As a dissertation supervisor, Dinesh challenged me to work outside of my comfort zone, to break through and exceed my boundaries.

We would often talk about Tottenham Hotspur, and our poor home form, and then we would talk about brilliant pieces of literature. I’ve been told that Dinesh was proud that I have gone on to be a writer after his teachings, and that’s the sort of pride that I’ll never forget. It saddens me that there will be no more students to experience his wit and charm. I hope his two sons grow up knowing what a wonderful man their father was. Dinesh was the sort of man that will never be forgotten. A teacher, a guide, a friend. Dinesh.

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