01 October, 2020

The Last Emperor

A new book, a new wife, and the enigmatic master is still buzzing with ideas and opinions

Prashant Panjiar
The Last Emperor

THE story goes something like this. At a fancy literary salon in New York—whose seductive contours shimmer the imagination of bibliophiles everywhere—a middle-aged lady is assiduously working the crowd in search of Ved Mehta. Wide-eyed, in a way only Americans can be, she is out to settle a wager. Her friend, who has brought her to this party, has told her Ved is blind; she, an admirer of his vivid writing, refuses to believe it so. Combing through the milling, cooing crowd, she eventually spots a delicately built Indian with a set face and steady eyes. Swiftly she arrives in front of him, and attempts to draw his attention. She gesticulates gently, then frenetically, flailing her arms about. The Indian looks on, unperturbed, unblinking. Just then her friend shows up at her elbow, a little embarrassed that her guest is flapping about like a startled rooster. "You're right," says the sceptic, pulling her arms under control, "He really can't see." "That," says her friend, "is not Ved Mehta. That, is V.S....



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