The great author was having a book reading. The great author looked a bit tired but clear-eyed. His wife sat by him, playing protector-comforter-guardian angel to perfection. She liked what she saw, a huge crowd hanging onto her husband's august words. The great author started reading from his new book in his characteristic clipped accent. Just as he began, his wife called out loudly, in a piercing soprano: "It's clear you are not interested in this reading. Leave immediately".

Convinced she was talking to me and quaking albeit reason, I prepared myself for a dignified, even injured exit. Then I realised her ire was directed at the hapless photographers, who, not having known they were on a time quota, were still clicking up a storm.

The great author continued. Then, a misguided soul, searching for a chair, rambled about the room. The great author stopped and threw a tantrum impressive for its brevity and intensity. The chair-seeker withdrew hastily, quelled, I noticed, by a lightening bolt shot from the great man's wife's fine eyes. By now my nerves were shot to bits. 

The Q&A session sparkled with witty gems flowing from the great author. Until a woman beside me rose, to sound the first dissenting note. She told the author she liked his work but found it difficult to digest some of his viewpoints. She then went on to ask a question. The great author ignored the question but trained his beetling brows in a severe frown upon the questioner. He told her she had two options: to either shut up or put up.

The woman was made of braver stuff than me. She asked pertly, "Why, is dissent not allowed here?" The room was rent by supportive clapping at this point. Suddenly, the author's wife rose swiftly and slithered to a stop beside me, snatched the mike away from the dissenter's hand and declared the proceedings closed.

I briefly considered an act of protest: Wrenching the author's fedora from his head and stamping on it. But I decided otherwise. I am too young to die.

The writer is a journalist, and  lives in Bangalore. 

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