Lit Fest Terrorists
Subbu was excited As Founder Director of our Colony Literature Festival, he was moderating the plenary session with the only published writer in our...
Subbu was excited. As Founder Director of our Colony Literature Festival, he was moderating the plenary session with the only published writer in our Festival. The hall was packed. Subbu asked director-type questions like why, when, where and what do you write. The writer talked about how wonderful a writer he was and who had endorsed his book. At the end of the session Subbu announced the much-awaited Q and A session. A few hands shot up instantly.
Subbu pointed at an academic type. The first question would set the bar for the festival. The old man rose with quiet dignity and held the mike in the manner of someone used to holding the mike. We held our breath. ‘Well, Mr, Writer, I am happy to know you have written all these books you say you have written. My name is Rambling Old Man. I retired 30 years ago. My grandparents are from Rampur. I studied in a government high school…’ Subbu waited a couple of minutes. ‘Yes?’ he interrupted. ‘What’s the question?’
Rambling Old Man was disoriented for a moment and lost his flow of thought. ‘I am coming to that,’ he said, offended. ‘We ate aloo parathas…’. Subbu made a sign. A couple of hefty looking blokes carried the old man away as he reminisced about his grand aunt fondly.
‘Next question,’ said Subbu sharply. ‘Keep it short and to the point.’ The writer drank some water. He had been concentrating on the old man’s question-in-the-making and had lost his way in the middle. Wary of old fogies, Subbu chose a middle-aged lady this time. She had a big bindi and was dressed in an arty fashion. ‘Mr. Writer,’ she gushed. ‘You’re my favourite author. I love your work. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book…I forget the name…the one on India’s freedom and how children are born…’ The author shook, literally. He had not written anything about how children were born and had no such intention either. He had written a love story with a difference. Subbu bellowed. ‘That’s Midnight Child madam…by another writer.’ The two hefty guys escorted the lady out. The writer was crestfallen. To have been told he was someone’s favourite writer and then being mistaken for someone else was a bit too much for his sensitive soul.
Subbu was careful in his selection for the third question. His future as Director of CLF depended on this. He chose an eager student type. ‘Good morning everyone, respected sir. Myself Rattan, studying English Literature. I never read any books in my life…not even yours…please don’t feel bad. …I want to do my research in...’ ‘Sit down!’ thundered Subbu. The two hefty fellows led the boy away. ‘That ends the QA session,’ said Subbu curtly. ‘Buy books and get signed copies.’
The writer was all set to sign the first book when a cry went out - ‘Heroine Chingari is here’. There was a mini stampede as our readers ran to get her autograph on his book. I felt bad for the poor writer. Until Subbu pointed him out to me, leading the pack. ‘An endorsement and a selfie,’ said Subbu.
Festival over, I asked Subbu about the people who had asked questions. Why were they taken away like criminals? ‘They are Lit Fest terrorists,’ he said. ‘Dangerous lot. Specially trained to ask bad questions and sabotage our festival. We made arrangements so they are restrained, counseled and let off after the mikes are disconnected. Today we are the only ‘Bad Question Free Lit Fest’. My humble contribution to literature. You know, I think I could write a book on that.’
The Lit Fest was a big success. No questions asked.