Time could bring Ryan back to India only after 6 more months had passed by. This time it was a jammed packed young audience in Bengaluru’s G.H College. Seeing such response from writers didn’t really matter to Ryan but it was unbelievable at the same time.
How did his work again so much attention when what he wrote was his heart’s outpouring? He couldn’t imagine seeing his book “The Song of Ecstasy” amongst Top 10 Best Sellers in TOI’s listing.
In the audience was Saki, Ryan’s college friend, looking wide-eyed at Ryan’s interview.
Finding Ryan was a tough job for the publishers. Although his habits of never waiting at a place for more than 7 days, not receiving calls, refusing invitations to parties frustrated the publishers, there was another reason they could not ignore him now: people had started loving his work. And Saki mattered as she was the only person who knew Ryan’s whereabouts.
The interview was going good only until the last question. Ryan walked out of the stage as Saki immediately went towards the back end of stage thinking to herself, “He’s the same Ryan. Nothing could change him in these years.”
“Why do these interviews happen when they don’t know what to ask?” “Saki, how did he dare to say that my rebellion to leave back the norms of this world was a fashion?”
“Woah! Let’s get out of here first” said Saki dodging the crowd who seemed to appear from all corners for autographs and pictures.
Ryan tried to relax in the cab as they headed towards his favourite hotel in the city, H. Swamy’s
Udipi Bhavan. His behaviour amused Saki. As he was relaxing, Ryan would suddenly get up to scribble something on the pad, sometime just strike off the entire page and again close his eyes, resting his head in the seat.
“How is your work going on? Still working at your dream job of a teacher?”
A startled Saki looked back hearing Ryan’s sudden questions. “Yes! I’m thinking of starting my own kindergarten school next year.”
“Wow! That’s great.” Ryan’s face beamed with more joy than Saki as if he was going to start the school. There was this one thing that could bring up Ryan from his sleep: hearing someone following his passion with unending enthusiasm.
“You haven’t changed Ryan. That wide smile...”
Ryan couldn’t ignore the look in her eyes. Her stare was broken with Ryan’s words, “So here we arrive at H. Swamy’s...”
The aroma of filter coffee and rasam wada couldn’t stop nostalgia from spilling out of Ryan’s heart
“Our first conversation began in this place during our educational tour to India. It was me trying to impress you by telling you the meaning of your name: blossom or hope” said Ryan with a hearty laugh.
“But it was your one look which told me to shut up and stop fooling around.”
“I think no would believe we would ever become friends, Ryan.”
“Yup” said Ryan with another sip of coffee over a bite of the rasam wada.
Saki was Ryan’s classmate from the Nightingale School of Literature. In those years when Ryan was least interested in literature, it was Saki who had brought Ryan back to the world of words. Being bought up in an orphanage in Japan, Saki never had the chance to know what it means to live with a family.
“But Ryan, where did the media get all these news threads from? About your personal life, your being missing from school for 6 months, your odd habit sleeping only on every 4th day. How did they get these details?”
“It doesn’t really matter Saki. Just that my books are selling good, they are struggling to find ways to keep people interested by trying to mystify my life.”
Saki couldn’t believe whether it was the same Ryan who walked out of an interview, furiously cursing the same media. Here’s he was lost in the joy of rasam wada and filter coffee, with no signs of anger over his forehead.
Her eyes couldn’t stop believing that this was the poem Ryan she was reading in his recent best seller, The Songs of Ecstasy. Apart from the publishers who had copies of Ryan’s poem, it was Saki who had every single word written by him.
The 2 line poem read:
When there is lot to express, words are scarce.
So strange is the language of love which speaks through eyes
when the mind has surrendered to your beloved.
“Do you remember the old Ryan? The media isn’t totally wrong about your life being mystified. It is unbelievable Ryan. How would a rich, young, spoilt brat who pursued literature because there was nothing else that would give him a degree without doing anything, turn into a bestselling author?” said a puzzled Saki.
Ryan, after finishing that last drop of his favourite filter coffee, concluded “It was with that camp in Uttarakhand which started the chains of events. Yes it’s unbelievable! May be meeting him was destined, as they say.”
“Whom?” asked Saki, as Ryan paid the bill, popped in two pinches of saunf, the Indian mouth freshner, from the counter and smiled at her mischievously.