A BRUSH WITH ROYALTY
On the 27th of June 1981, I was in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, as a part of a conducted tour of Benelux countries. It was the Belgian National Day and there was a festive atmosphere. There were elaborate security arrangements as a part of which our tour bus was being constantly diverted away from the main thoroughfares.
As we were passing through a minor road, the security guards stopped us and asked us to wait. The reason for the hold-up was that we had reached the rear gates of the Royal Palace just as the king was about to leave the premises. All our tour mates got down from the bus hoping to catch a glimpse of the king.
Then came King Badouin and his queen, Fabiola waving towards the crowd through the window of the limousine. There was a flurry of activity in the glare of the global media. Since it was an unscheduled route, the security let us get close to the limo, As our tour mates were busy shaking hands with the king, I could get a couple of clear snapshots of the royalty. Then what happened was the stuff of which fairy tales are made.
As all the people were shaking hands with the king, I stood apart watching. I was the only coloured person in the crowd and I was hesitant to approach the limo. The king saw me and smiled. Then he beckoned me extending his arm for a hand shake. Gleefully, I took his hand shook it! It is a memory that is deeply etched in my mind to this day.
I did not wash my right hand for one full week (just kidding). And whenever I recount my experience with my friends and relatives, they think I am ‘gassing”.