Having Vidia for Dinner

by zunguzungu

‘Mom does the Indian guy not speak English?’ he asks.
“Kai, he is the foremost English prose writer of the western world … he speaks English alright.’
He looks perplexed. ‘Oh, I thought he could not understand what you guys are saying because he just sits and watches and he doesn’t talk.’

From Gillian Schutte’s delightful account of the time V.S. Naipaul showed up at their house, at Book Southern Africa:

By 1 a.m. they begin to show signs of leaving. We still have not asked any questions of Vidia. He is simply there as the observer. I feel as If I am on reality TV. I just do not know what to say to him and I certainly don’t want to waste any of his precious time by asking him the same old clichéd questions. I’ve never known how to fawn over important people and I am not going to start now.

Nadira says thank you and hugs me. She says to give a kiss to Kai and that he is a special boy. She tells us that Vidia loves our dogs. Then they are gone.

Sipho and I pour ourselves another drink and sit on the verandah to smoke. ‘So how do you think it went?’ I ask him.

‘OK,’ he says, calmly. Everything is always ok as far as Sipho is concerned.

‘Ja but he didn’t say a word the entire evening. Kai thought he did not understand English and that his wife would have to translate.’ Sipho bursts out laughing.

Oh, Vidia. As delightful as always.