It was then that disaster struck. A good citizen of Des Moines announced that their poet-guests would now sing songs in their own languages. A deafening roar of applause went up—even from our own group. I trembled and shrank back in fright. But the guests went up on stage with more eagerness and gusto than the hosts themselves. They sang in different octaves and voices, and even in plain screeches, till everyone cried, “Enough!” When my turn came, I sang for a whole minute and got down.
We had to stay at a hotel that night, two to a room. I wanted to share a secret with the [Korean] writer who was my roommate. “Did you know that I didn’t sing any song? I only sang the thirty letters of the Tamil alphabet to a tune of my own.”
He did not seem surprised. “Is that right? I thought I was the only one who had used that idea.”
Asokamithran is brilliant, I tell you.