‘Jake, I never expected us to hit it off really well but there is something I need to ask you. Can you…you.you..,’ he suddenly started stammering.
‘What’s the matter?’ I asked, astounded.
‘I’m sort of intimidated by you. I mean I’m intimidated right now. It was better when the revelation of your fame hadn’t struck me. I felt equivalent to you. But now..’
‘Toby, it’s alright. My fame is a very transient thing. My book keeps me in the limelight, the same limelight that gets you on the top can bring you down with a crushing defeat. I’ve never trusted the showbiz industry, and I never plan on. We have contrasting personalities, but we’re all made up of skin, enough to conceal our darkest secrets.’
‘Oh, okay. This might sound hasty but I’m quitting my job next month. I’m opening a publishing agency that even organizes occasional book readings. Words have always astonished me and in this growing age of technology, I believe I can bring about a little change and divert the people to their initial source of entertainment, which still remains paramount,’ he spoke and I saw some sort of a spark in him. I knew this man would do well but since his insecurity was very evident, I couldn’t let him get carried away by flattering remarks. I had to be diplomatic while answering.
‘That sounds very fascinating. But what about the financial aspects of this? Have you thought this through?’
‘Yes, I have. I’ve rented a place in Manhattan and right now, it’s undergoing renovation. I’ve also changed the interiors, something that avid readers would find captivating. My wife has done the interiors. She’s an interior designer. And since I have been in the stock market for long, I know which investments will prove to be useful. Don’t worry, I have it all under control.’
‘You’ve perfectly tackled the monetary issues. You seem very calculative and that’s good in such situations. I’m happy for your agency. You’ll do wonders.’
‘Actually, I have a favour to ask,’ he unveiled a very serious look, as if this favour is the most predominant thing for this agency.
‘Yes, go ahead,’ I tried to ease the tension with a little smile, miserably failed.
‘I’d love it if you published your second book through my agency. And this is an absolutely impulsive decision I’ve taken. But when you were talking to that woman, you seemed at ease and since you’re such an acclaimed author, I’d love it.’
I was taken aback, not by this favour but the breakneck speed at which his brain works. He’d thought of all the aspects in less than 10 minutes. Something very commendable.
‘Yes, absolutely yes. I’ve always encouraged people with realistic prospects. I’d be more than happy to publish my book through your agency. I’m ready for the little delay that it may take as well. Have we made a deal?’
‘Yes, we have!’ his face lit up, it was flushed with a certain relief. ‘Just, one more thing. Could you be there at some of the book readings and discussions. The crowd is always satisfied with fruitful discussions and they would be thrilled to share with people who’ve scaled heights and transcended boundaries.’
‘I’m going to have to say no to this. Simply because, I don’t have a home. Yes, I do have an apartment in Manhattan but I’m never there. From the busiest streets of Mumbai, to the filthiest and the most unsanitary nooks and corners of Africa to Florence in Italy to Mexico, I go where my work takes me. And I don’t work on just 1 book. I work on 3 books simultaneously. I observe people’s lives. They’re my inspiration, they’re my muse, they’re my undying support. I’m a nomad, I go where my work takes me. But I will make it a point to drop by when I’m in Manhattan no matter how overworked I am and no matter how jam-packed my schedule is.’
‘Oh, thank you. I suppose we cannot have everything on a platter. I’m just so ecstatic about the fact that you will publish your book through my agency. Thank you, it means so much to me.’
‘If I don’t come off as needy. I have a certain favour to ask for. You need to deliver this to…’
So, 3rd chapter is here! This story might get a little lengthy. But it’ll be worth it. Do drop in a review and maybe complete this cliffhanger. If it sounds good I might use it! You’ll get your credits. Thank you guys!