It’s been a long while since I got anyone’s autograph!

When I was growing up, I had a pink notebook I carried everywhere and in it were signatures of all the “famous” people in and around Kathmandu. Singers, actors, football players, politicians, literary figures—I loved going up to these “celebrities” and asking for autograph. I would then take it to school the next day and show it off to my friends…. Yesterday, I met so and so.

But as I grew older, the autograph collection ceased to expand from the last popular figure who signed for me. I didn’t fancy going up to a “famous” person anymore. I wasn’t interested in seeking signatures of somebody I didn’t really care about or even care to know about.

I was meeting interesting people. They didn’t have to write, “Best Wishes… From so-n-so).” Their smiles, expressions and conversations had a lasting effect than the notebook with unreadable jottings. Life had taught me that.

But this past Monday, I crowded along with other “fans” and hoped to chance on a scribbled signature. I was already feeling cheesy about it but I let all my prejudices aside. It’s not everyday you meet one of the influential writers of the 21st century…

I got in line and cringed when I heard a girl say, ”Ma’am I read your ‘God Of Small Things,” Duh! Say something else. I felt really stupid as our representative (she was the only one talking) stated only the obvious. So, when my turn came and Arundhati Roy took my notebook, I only tried to justify by turning the page to where a blue felt reads, “…when hope seems lost, we must find the courage to dream. To reclaim romance. The romance of believing in justice, in freedom and in dignity. For EVERYBODY.” –AR
And added, “Thanks,” followed by my wannabe smooth talking about how challenging and encouraging her writings have been to me.

I don’t know if my words even reached her ears as she smiled and signed her name. I was only glad to be standing alongside a writer who was visiting her birthplace just in time for Bob Dylan’s birthday celebrations in Shillong town.


Acting like we knew where we were going got us to one of the best places to be in Shillong town.

From not sharing burgers to hungry dogs, playing the “do you see” game and putting our imperfect toes to scrutiny were small wonders that made us smile?!…:)

It was also the privilege to perceive Police Bazaar from a different angle and watch its ever busy atmosphere that kept us taking back to the marble slab amidst the green lawn of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

But perhaps the biggest draw was to stare Westward and witness the painter at work. At times, the artist felt moody as unexplained splashes of white and gray filled the canvas sky.

But today, the setting sun pierced its way like the morning sun, as its warm touch filled the air.
“It feels like a golden tunnel leading to heaven perhaps…” he remarked.
“Were we ready to be there yet?”
[“Yes—No—not sure—perhaps not…”]

And the uncertainty was only disturbed by a “Kaha se aaya?” “Yeh Legislative Assembly hai –eether aana manaha hai.”

Devoid of clever words to prolong our stay, we muttered, “This Is It,” as we turned our back to the golden ball and walked away from its overpowering presence.