Cyrus Broacha’s tribute to The Hindu Litfest 2024

How Cyrus survived his session at The Hindu Litfest 2024 by following the principles he applies to his marriage — keeping quiet for long periods of time, and interspersing the silence with “Sorry”

Published - February 09, 2024 02:50 pm IST

Satheesh Vellinezhi

Satheesh Vellinezhi | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Before I start with the topic of the day, (which has not been chosen yet, as the committee that decides it is out of town), I’d like to reflect on The Hindu Litfest 2024, which I somewhat participated in, a fortnight ago.

Firstly, may I clarify it was not my idea. Having said that, I must say, it was well organised and supremely well conducted. (I may have been told to say this, then again, I may have not. You, dear reader, will never know). On a personal note, it was an absolute triumph. I felt like Julius Caesar returning home after subjugating the Gauls, and not just because of my receding hairline.

At least two people recognised me, although one was the Uber driver that bought us to the venue, and apparently may not have been paid in full. Then again, he may be just a voracious reader, struggling to get entry. Who is to say that yesterday’s voracious reader is not today’s Uber driver?

Now let us turn our eyes to the event in which I was part of an august panel in January. I think, our topic was either, ‘How to hold an audience’s attention?’ or, ‘How to change more for a paperback edition, vis-à-vis, a hard-cover edition?’. Sadly, I can’t really remember as I wasn’t paying attention at the time.

Here is what I do remember. There were people there. On stage, we had the beautiful Anu Menon, the extremely popular Kanan Gill, and the moderator was Suresh Balakrishnan. The power trio had a huge advantage over me. They had each read at least one full book. I’m not committing here, but I will go out on a limb and say, in Suresh’s case, rumour, unsubstantiated rumour, has it — he may have even read two. Despite this huge disadvantage, I managed to survive the session. This I did, by following the same principles I apply to surviving my marriage. That is by keeping quiet for large periods of time, and interspersing the silences with “Sorry”.

Now, let me rekindle some highlights, which cannot be made up, as they have all been recorded and uploaded to YouTube. As we know, whatever is on YouTube, is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The session kicked off with Kannan falling backwards off his chair. Why he did this, even Kannan wouldn’t know! Medication, and a direct challenge to Newton’s Law of Gravity were blamed. Then better sense prevailed and we all just blamed the chair. Anu and Kannan answered all questions with embarrassing ease. Questions ranged from, a comparative study of the works of Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy and Saadat Hasan Manto, to how do you spell Ayodhya correctly.

At the end of the session, Anu, Kanan and Suresh hugged each other and cried — Anu and Suresh, from the love the community generated for them that afternoon, and Kannan from the intense back pain. (At the time of writing, the pain is quite severe, so much so, that Kanan has trouble simply walking his dog. Oops, sorry, I stand corrected — not from simply walking his dog, it should read, from simply walking. The dog, poor fellow, is forced to walk his own self.

So sorry people, since I may have been coerced into writing this tribute to The Hindu Litfest 2024, I’ve no time to write on a topic for this column. This may come as a relief to you. However, it’s just more pain for me. The successful quest for failure continues. Till we meet again at The Hindu Litfest 2025. Meendum sandhippom (just learning Tamil). 

The writer has dedicated his life to communism. Though only on weekends.

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