In a free state

 

The evening was English, overcast with a  brisk breeze, and the club garden seemed just warm enough for a drink, but not for a longer dinner. Then the wind abated, some blue sky appeared among the clouds, and we decided to risk it.

Almost at the end of our meal, with pink clouds glowing on a fine August evening, a new party came to dine, gathered round an older man with a face which seemed familiar from book covers. I was excited but also abashed, and wondered if it would be best just to leave him to his meal, uncertain that it was really him, and not wanting to intrude. I dawdled over a protracted coffee to consider what to do.

When it could no longer be delayed we rose to leave, saying goodbye to two separate tables of friends, and I gathered courage and approached his wife, saying: “Do you always get your meals interrupted by strangers paying their respects?” She was gracious and welcoming, saying it happened sometimes, asked my name, and told me hers, thus confirming I had recognized him correctly. His sons smiled in welcome. So I turned to him and all I could say was: “Thank you for writing”. He smiled warmly and thanked me, and I left, very emotional.

Authors have great power over us readers. We let them drive the car of our imagination, at speeds and on journeys of their choosing, and let them hold the keys for ever.

Thank you, Vidiadhar Surajprasad.

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