I had a pending situation with my favorite writer, Hanif Kureishi.
You may remember the chronicles of my vicissitudes trying to meet him for a picture or a simple signing of my book last year during La Milanesiana in Milan. Well, throughout the course of the year nothing much changed. He came to Italy a couple of times, but for some reason I wasn’t in town, I couldn’t go or something came up and that left me chasing my little reader dream.
When Miss Sgarbi came back with a new edition of this successful event, the first thing that I did was download the agenda to see who was invited! … I was at work, but I couldn’t hold the little scream of joy when I saw that he was on the menu… excuse me… the panel again!
It was set for the 1st of July at the Piccolo Teatro Grassi and this year’s theme was… The Good Luck! A good sign, right?
I spent the whole week before the event in a whirl of ups and downs: ups when I imagined finally talking with him, shaking hands or just taking a picture- downs when I reminded myself to not be so “dreamy” because I’d be sure to return home with the same disappointment as the year before. And this was my daily mental game, until that night.
I was very nervous and he was not the first one to present his lecture. I barely followed the others, except for Fleur Jaeggy whom I enjoyed a lot. Admittedly I spent the few minutes of his reading basking in his voice and my beloved British accent like a little girl listening to her mum’s voice singing a lullaby.
As he finished and I came to myself, I realized the time was soon approaching for my dream to come true. But when the magic is finished and the moment arises, what in the world am I going to talk with him about and more importantly, how was I to insure this moment not pass me by again? I decided to write to Mr. Kureishi a little message and pass it through one of the ushers. Not easy! First of all I didn’t have any paper (which means that I had to write on my business card!). Second, I had to face the total lack of interest and curiosity of the ushers: “Excuse-me can you give this to Mr. Kureishi?” – “Mr. who?” – was the first answer. Oh well… ”you know, he read earlier…” – “I didn’t pay any attention”. Cool. “But you can give it to the hostesses they will find him.. “Erm… you know… it’s quite urgent…” – “If you know who he is you can give it him.” Yes!
I saw that he was sitting on the front row but guess what?, he was sitting in the middle of the row! The first person I could give the paper to and who could pass it to him was an old lady, whom I asked a couple of times (I think in three different languages) before she understood what she had to do with it. I thanked the lovely lady and came back to my sit waiting impatiently for the event to conclude.
Well… I don’t remember what happened after that, but I had been told later (once recovered from the shock) that he came out to look for me. We went to the bar for a drink, I looked like a 15 year old girl in front of the singer of One Direction- I spoke for half an hour without pausing for breathing. I have been told that I also said at some point that I spoke English, but that the language coming out from my mouth was difficult to understand. Long after, I realized the copy of the book (The Last Word) that I had in my hand was signed with a dedication to my name… oh, and there were pictures in my camera and iPhone with me next to him.
So, I guess it happened. And I guess it really was good luck.
Thank you, Mr. Kureishi.