Fragments of a non-existent diary III – Brissac, France

By Paulo Coelho

During my stay at a castle rented by a Brazilian magazine, a local journalist came to interview me. During the conversation, which was being watched by other people, he wanted to know:

– What is the best question a reporter has ever asked you?

The best question? I thought I’d been asked just about EVERY question, except for the one he just put. I asked for a moment to reflect, to study the many things I wanted to say but was never asked. But in the end I had to confess:

– I think it was yours. I’ve had questions I’ve refused to answer, others which allowed me to talk about interesting subjects, but yours was the only one I cannot possibly answer sincerely.

The journalist made a note, then said:

– I’ll tell you an interesting story. Once, I went to interview Jean Cocteau. His house was piled high with bibelots, paintings, drawings by famous artists, books, Cocteau kept everything, and felt a deep love for all those things. So anyway, during the interview, I decided to ask him: “if the house caught fire right now, and you could only take one thing with you, what would you choose?”

– And what did Cocteau say? – asked Alvaro Teixeira, who was in charge of the castle, and a great follower of the life of the French artist.

– Cocteau said: “I’d take the fire”.

And we sat there in silence, applauding deep down in the most intimate corners of our hearts, the brilliant reply.

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