At the Delhi launch of my book Across Borders, rather at the end of it, I was flourished a fitting lesson in keeping modesty and humility at bay, for the world that does not value it, by a very dear friend from my DU college and hostel. She is a senior – qualified and much accomplished public relations professional, and was the Delhi university psychology honours topper…so definitely knows what she’s speaking. 🙂
At the end of the event, I stood up on the dais and very sincerely, with a grateful facial and body language – slightly bent over that is, said to the audience: “Thank you so much, for making the time and effort out of your busy schedules to come and attend my book launch. It really means so much, considering the Delhi rush hour traffic …and your work you might have had to leave early from.”
Even before I could descend from the dais, my friend Rajni (thank you so much!) briskly walked up to me and said – “Why are you being so humble and modest Shuvashree? It just does not work…understand! Your book is great, from the excerpts you’ve just read. The media reviews and coverage have all been good. Most importantly, you’ve worked very hard and it’s an honour for all of us to attend the function…Think of it that way and don’t plead with your audience…Please! What makes you think or feel people are doing you any favour by coming here? We were honoured to be invited here and we enjoyed ourselves. Just think like that from now on and act like it…got it!”
I was taken aback and tried to mumble some excuses and explanation for my behaviour, as knowing her well I knew she had my best interests in mind, and also promptly realised how right she was. After my varied work stints, I would advise anyone the same thing, just that when it came to my own first baby (book), I just could not show it off to the world, at least not yet…I was shy that they might ridicule it. I had already gotten a very similar lecture the evening before from a very senior and established writer (thank you once again), on not opening my mouth and blatantly saying the ‘wrong’ things. 😛 🙂
I wish sometimes to be able to adhere to all these learnings as truly the world does not recognise, and has no patience or understanding of modesty, but in spite of all my good intentions I fall short. As a reader of mainly literary fiction right since a child, my opinions, values and respect for modesty is so deep rooted, that even knowing I’m doing myself and my work a great disservice most of the time, I cannot overcome my my inherent affinity for it.
So much so that at a recent ‘meet the author’ event I was invited to in Chennai, all in the audience – remarked at some point in our group or individual interactions, on how grounded and unassuming I was…So now in concluding my thinking aloud in writing this…I’m really going to try to fly, so you may see my plumes. 🙂
PS: you may click the link https://www.facebook.com/media/set/… to view the whole album of the launch.