I once tried making friends with a writer; it was and is one of the worst decisions I ever made. I was a young writer back then, yet to read much more important books and sink into genre-defining films that’d not only change my view of the world but as my way of writing as well.
I’d decided to collect several Kenyan books and literature that year; so I checked out a couple of friends who were writing or had been and hit one up to cap a book. It was a fire purchase. Well thought out and amazingly written by a writer hungry to put his thoughts on paper. We exchanged numbers and went on to become great chat buddies discussing even his writing (from his site) and mine (from my blog). We only came short of hitting a keg joint together or flaming up a smoke.
So good friends we were that he introduce me to his really pretty sister. I guess when he met a fan of his work, ready to discuss whatever he had thought out, he was starstruck. He could not bear this much attention to both him and his mind. He might have showed me off to her I imagine. That; look at a human so taken up by mind he’s in love with it.
One of his books was a hit, so he was always travelling giving talks on it. Then one day, he was in town. He asked for a breeze of coffee and I accompany him to give his talk.
I was fresh out of high school. This was a blast. I would have a short moment to talk to people only a year ago, were my age mates and they’d take out their books to scribble whatever wisdom came from me. I didn’t care much about the writer in this moment, he would be my pedestal to a higher realm of fame and starstruck fans.
On this adventurous trip, I got a chance to fully engage with and understand the human that Edwin was.
He loved Dean Koontz. Grisham. And all other boring writers you know. Whenever I imagine human beings who love Grisham, I always see them draped in suits and plain ties. Polished. Normal.
He had a suit on.
He was actually a polished writer. More than could be said about other writers of similar standing.
He also liked a bit of Nancy Drews and a host of other serial books.
Despite being in constant communique with him, I admitted to myself on what a sorry sight he was.
People are stronger on paper.
When we went to the staff-room to await the coordinator, it got worse. He practically socialised with every human within his arms reach. And I, the casualty of misdirected attention, shook each hand and returned each smile directed at me. I abhorred it. In the spirit of good humane actions, I sat through it and played along.
We were given tea. Very hot tea.
I hated tea that had cream.
I preferred milk in a glass and tea black.
I had worn a white shirt, a black trouser and had tagged with me a zebra jumper I liked. I had asked mama to dress me up for this (and in that way shot myself in the foot). Sweat under my armpit glued my skin to the cheap Indian cotton material of my shirt. And down my throat flew the hottest of beverages in a crammed room with poor window distribution, a low ceiling and the fucking writer!
We were still waiting for the coordinator person. She.
Edwin was talking about some dumb games he’d played in his childhood that he remade in his book. I wasn’t in the least mood nor patience to listen to him. He’d taken off his suit coat to reveal a light blue thick set shirt properly ironed and smelled of fresh laundry. He wasn’t a misfit! He was a geek with a pen.
He had attended high school in a seminary. Just like I had. The only difference was that while our was considered by all means a school of upright gentlemen, in seminary circles, theirs was a school of wimps.
That was by far the extent of things we shared in common.
We were otherwise two unfit halves. I looked like a gangsta trying to fit into a suit and he looked like a priest trying to fit into a suit.
I think two humans; no matter how alike they are, yet one worships a man like Bukowski, and another Sidney Sheldon; can never truly get along. Let alone roll a boulder down a hill together. I continually asked myself whether there was need of me to be there, but I thought it stupid and coward to walk out on someone who had made plans with you in mind.
I also was doing it for the money. You know, the trickle down policy; if I accompanied you to a gig and you got paid, I get paid as well. Right?
We had a nice gig. The female coordinator eventually showed up and took us out of that Godforsaken (dusty) room.
The gig was nice. Touched a few souls, shook a couple hands and even had a photography moment. I was truly proud of it.
I also bought a second book from Edwin. He was one of those proud writers who had a voluminous bio on Facebook giving a colourful portrait of the works they have done and future prospects, really nice. Only I felt, it was giving away too much of myself to the world.
When we wrapped everything up, we sat down at a silent corner. He sat down rather. I prefer to sit down on broader and taller surfaces. Say a table. We both sat. Him in a chair while I took the table aforementioned.
He didn’t pay me.
I was angry.
There was little I could however do.
He literally told me what a good job it was, signed my book heaping praise upon praise on my human and handed it to me. Left it at that. Like a fucking! I broached the subject. He said, they’ve not given me enough, they’ll offset the balance later, so, why don’t I sort you out then?
I was stupid. But then, this was a writer. And I was a writer. And he had signed my book. With my name! I agreed. We shook hands on it. Then drank a cold glass of juice. So overly diluted that I felt I was drinking water off an orange coloured glass.
I had an itch in my mind on why I bought his book that wasn’t even given at a discount and left me a poorer man. He had taken advantage of my naivety, I felt.
It was a dusty exit off the institution – atop motorbikes. My worst mode of transport. For that alone, I hated this writer. I hated the life. And swore to never become a writer.
The fashion disaster I was at this dumb talk is also the reason why I own only a handful of jumpers and prefer jackets and sweaters instead.