For those of you who don’t know it, I have no degrees, and basically no formal education. In the last ten years, my attempts to “go back to school” have been thwarted by my visa status. Late last year, that obstacle was resolved, so when my son, now a sophomore, said to me that I should “take some classes”, I decided to investigate the matter. As it turns out, I will have to fulfill requirements such as English, social sciences, math, and so on. And I will of course, not being a US citizen, have to take the TOEFL – Test Of English as a Foreign Language. As I scoured the website of the community college looking for ways to get a PhD without putting in thousands of semester hours, I began to feel pretty poor, and sorry for myself.

And then my phone rang. I thought, looking at the area code, that it was someone I knew. It wasn’t. A voice, somewhat nervous, young, male, asked for me. When I identified myself, he said, very quickly, that he had just read POL and liked it, and wanted to tell me so. He hung up rather quickly. Perhaps he was a bit embarrassed, or maybe he didn’t actually think I would answer the phone and wasn’t prepared for it. I don’t really know. But I do know this: he made my day.

I never thought it would concern me, I was pretty blasé about writing and putting it out there. Readers were not real to me then. They are now. I care deeply what every person who reads my book thinks of it. I would talk to every last one of you, and to hear that you loved the book is validating, of course, but just to know that you read it is surprisingly fulfilling. I really didn’t expect this. At all.

When my mother got fan mail, or met a fan at a reading or a conference, she would be thoroughly delighted. Sometimes she would say to us, full of smiles and happiness, “that was not just a fan, he/she was a propeller!”

Well, I don’t know if the person who called me today in the midst of my episode of self-doubt and confusion was a fan or a propeller – but I understood something about my mother today, and, this perfect stranger reminded me why I publish what I write. Thank you, Mr. Joshi.

(And this is not an invitation to other readers to call me – I’m just saying – thank you all for reading my work!)

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