Phone rang. A sweet voice was on the line, “Hello.” Well I was sure that this was one of those ‘Happy New Year’ calls from some shop which must have put a neat sum to the debit of my account. But life is full of surprises. Just when you think life is getting very drab, there comes a twist which gives you the very same feeling which a trainee artist in a circus would have on his first show on a trapeze.
“Hello, I want to interview you. We are going to do a feature article on you.” The voice now sounded sweeter. “And I would like to meet you with my photographer to do a photo shoot on you.”
Those are the words which send your pulse accelerating faster than a Merc or a Maserati on an expressway. Imagine a trainee artist in a circus on a trapeze, hanging upside down on the swing with pulse galloping like a cheetah chasing a prey. The only other time when this had happened was when I opened the cupboard to take the bottle of golden liquid from Scotland and it coincided with my wife calling me out loudly. Yes, dissimilar instances. But the effect is the same. Your hands tremble, so does your voice; you hold your breath in anticipation of what is coming next.
“Why?” I asked. There could not have been a more idiotic question. You want to say ‘Oh, Yes? Really?” But what comes out is different. “Why?” I asked.
“We are from a magazine which covers activities of old people. We would like to cover your times since retirement.”
“Why?” Yet another of those questions. Not really. Who will read about activities of retired persons except perhaps the retired persons whose hunger for general knowledge increases with age? But you guessed it right. I never asked this question.
So we decided about time and date of our meeting. I anxiously waited for their arrival. I glanced at the road to check if they had arrived. “They know the address so they will come, you don’t worry.” My wife said to me noticing my anxiety. I murmured something in protest and in denial. Words do not come out clearly when you are anxious. But you make a sound like a two stroke engine, tut tut tut tut, just enough to let the other party know your disapproval.
The team arrived. A young lady, very observant, smiling cautiously and dressed in a jeans and top. A gentleman was accompanying her, obviously the lens-man, carrying a big camera bag. He spoke Gujarati and immediately struck a good conversation with my wife who having been born and brought up in Baroda qualifies to be labelled Gujju. From ‘kem cho’ it was a short step to share some ‘undhyo.’ The cameraman’s eyes were searching for good spot to take snaps.
The interview began. “What attracted you to blogging?” She asked. I searched for an answer. There are questions you can anticipate in an interview. This one is like the ‘approach shot’ in tennis. Difficult ones follow this, I knew. But I was prepared. “Blogging gives me an avenue to express myself.”
My darling wife was smiling; I noticed it. When you are married for thirty-seven years your ways are well known to ‘the party of the second part’ as my lawyer friends would say. I did not wait for the second question. My school had taught me to write the entire chapter for any question on it in an examination. That strategy invariably worked. ‘Real value is in volume’ we would tell each other then. At the end of my long answer I gave a victorious look to my wife. And to my young interviewer, who was fiddling with her recorder. Never realized that she was recording it! But ‘it does not matter,’ I said to myself. I was careful not to use un-parliamentary language, which comes so easily to public and parliamentarians alike. It occurred to me that the meaning of that word has changed to allow many an expression.
The lady and lens-man duo left. My darling wife sat there with a smile on her face. “Congratulations!” She said. I was moved. I mean, there are moments in the married life when you hear a genuine compliment from your wife; you feel as if you are on a trapeze and have caught the girl coming from other swing – such an ‘Aha’ moment!
“You must write your autobiography, let us see how it is received.” she said. The girl was slipping out of my hands.
“Ha, ha! Darling, who will read my autobiography?” I asked.
“Well, that’s my test of a good writer.”