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.
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.
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.
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