It is said that give a man centre-stage and watch him reveal his true self. All right, maybe no one had said that before, but I just did. When I was centre-stage for a teeny-weeny quarter of an hour, I discovered what an a**h**e I was. The occasion was my moment in the sun when a lucky break saw me flown to Bombay as a winner of a national level essay contest. The topic was of particular relevance to my obsessed, 'pseudo' secular/ secular fanatic (I get a lot of that on web forums, believe me) mind and it was about the best years of my life, my engineering college years. Hence the output was good enough to win me a prize but I always feel that I had fared extremely poorly in actualizing what the subject matter deserved. Right upto the point when I landed in Bombay, I felt more than a little guilt about fortune's winds favouring me in this obscene manner.
It was evening when I entered the Nehru Centre auditorium with nervous apprehension. Every second I expected to hear a sneering voice say, "It can't be that you're giving away a prize to this piece, no, it can't be!" So I sidled up to the second row, quiet as a mouse and took my place. The other essays that had also won prizes were being read out as I mentally chewed my nails over what the reaction to my essay would be. The stage was then taken over by this intensely beautiful woman who read my essay with much more effort than it deserved and then committed the mistake of praising it too.
From that very instant, what on earth was humility? I was the proverbial rooster all ruffled up and crowing with all my might. I assumed the stage sloshed with absolutely unbearable doses of narcissism and proceeded to venture my suddenly 'wise' and 'cool' opinion on everything from money to Gandhism. I went on to advice my fellow participants on writing and randomly criticize a girl's write-up who had unluckily winded up fourth on the prize list (This bit of the mess-up thankfully occurred off-stage). I remembered clearly while reading her entry earlier that her words were sharp and charged with so much zing, that it made my write-up look like a plastic flower in comparison. But you wouldn't expect to acknowledge that, would you? It pains me deeply to say this, but all it took was a single beautiful girl and just the hint of a compliment from her for me to don this nauseous 'avatar'. Never before have I been successfully been such a repulsive loser!
Hell, I feel I have hardly written anything worthwhile since that fateful, ignominious day when I got to meet the attention-starved megalomaniac that lives in me. Things have never been the same. Maybe this confession will help improve things from now on.
I bow to people like Sachin or Shah Rukh who live everyday under the blindly constant affection of their fans for their very real skills. They must be really spectacular human beings to want to still talk to us common folk like they do. I have had my 15 minutes of fame and found out that frankly I am just not suave enough to deserve any more of it...