It had been a while since I “discovered” a new author. Usually, during my long summer vacations, over the past few years, I would wander into my favourite book shop in Birmingham and browse around spending a good two to three hours and coming out sometimes with 4-5 books while at other times empty handed. Nevertheless, the fact remains that discovering an author is always exciting. That tingling feeling you get when you have just finished the very first book by an author you had never heard of before, and loved it, and just can’t wait to go out and pick more books by the same author, is simply amazing.
Keeping this is mind; I accepted an invitation to a book event, in Gurgaon, a while back, wherein Mr. Vinod Mehta was releasing his memoir titled Lucknow Boy. I’ll be the first to admit, and honestly speaking I don’t you’ll bother asking everyone you meet this, but I had no clue as to who he was. After doing a bit of research I ended up at the event, and taking in all the excitement that people present there were illustrating, I was sure that it was the right place to be.
Now, finding an author and discovering his/her books is one thing, but finding a whole new person and learning about his life was a completely different situation. While the event was full of people who had already read the memoir and came prepared with questions, I quietly sat on one corner taking in all that Mr. Mehta had to say about his life.
It wasn't until much later, when I had finished reading Lucknow Boy that I got the complete grasp of what a life it was. Full of tragic events and surrounded with controversy and gossip, the fact that Vinod Mehta is still a prominent figure in the literary world is proof enough of his talent. His tryst with various prominent people of India and a professional life with its fair share of ups-and-downs, Vinod Mehta’s Lucknow Boy was equally a story about his life as it was about the changing times in India.
As I picked up the re-release of his “classic biography” on Meena Kumari, I looked back at the event. Now, when I see him on TV discussing political issues on various NEWS channels I at-least know who he is and can relate to him much better. His writing style, which would satisfy almost all types of readers, is very simplistic, yet many steps ahead of the Indian literature that we are being bombarded with on a daily basis.
However, the fondest memory about the event has to be the book signing at the end. As I repeated two or three times to him, amongst a lot of noise, that I would love the book made out to “whoever reads this book”, I was concerned about the expression on his face as he went ahead, for it was only when I returned back home and opened the book did I realize that the reason why he asked me to repeat what I wanted was because ... (see picture below)