The guy pestered me for four days and nights like the very offspring of the devil himself. From all the way Indiana, You-Ess-Hey, he kept trying to make me purchase a book promotion contract. It was clear to me that he had no idea who I really was , for he kept referring to me by the pen name which he had found on one of my books , the one which he thought his mega-publishing-honcho company could help me sell a lot more of worldwide. I know I should have told him to piss off immediately, knowing how these promotion scams work, but you know me; I hate to hurt people’s feelings. Again I believe you can always learn something new from all situations good or bad, and so I permitted him run the entire gamut of his spiel , and even encouraged him to send some sample contract samples and such . Okay, I had actually initially told him I wasn’t interested, but by keeping the conversation open I think I may have by default sort of encouraged him that I could be eventually persuaded. Great salesman I assure you.
Finally fed up with the time-wasting chat, I gave him my real name(s) and suggested to him to search me online and see if it was really possible for him to increase my publishing lot. He returned a few hours later quite breathless; asked me a few more question, and I think he was on his knees while doing so this time. Finally, blurted he: Is there anything you CANNOT do ,sir ?
Now that was quite an embarrassing question, but one which I have been asked several times both by equally astounded friends and strangers. I responded with a modest answer which I think made him even more confused. I finally got him off the phone before he got to the point of asking me to bless him and his entire family. The question lingered on nevertheless: Is there anything you CANNOT do ?
It is a question that always makes me feel awful – rather like an impostor ; how else would you regard someone who found self somehow spiritually elevated within the space of less than a tenth of a decent lifetime, from a desert nomad to a probable genius?
I am not a genius; sometimes I am even unable to pay my bills. True I know how to do a lot of things, some of them I have no business knowing how to do. The fact however is that I learned most of these skills the hard way- in the way of survival;, for I have had quite more than my fair share of ventures gone belly-up, embarrassing life and business disasters, circumstances gone so bad that all I have been able to walk away with had been the skills I gained from assiduously trying to make them work. I am a mutant human weed; I don’t die easily. So is there anything that I CANNOT do ? The truth is that I really don’t know until I get presented with the challenge.
On the negative pole of the reverence train is another complete stranger, a gentleman I met not too long ago, at a club bar in Lagos. And there I had been, suggesting to him to attend my coming book presentation event. Are you a literature expert? He had circumspectly asked me. And since I had no idea what a literary expert was I answered in the negative-even though I actually have a diploma in Journalism earned from a distance learning school. From that moment, to this very educated gentleman (a doctor) my book presentation event became history – he just didn’t want to know. Not that the event missed him though. Should I have told him yes I was indeed a literary expert? I suspect he would have progressed to ask if I had a PhD in Literature. Facing me was a troglodyte of the prevalent belief that before you could indeed earn the privilege to be regarded competent to write a book, you must belong into the cult of professional literature teachers; otherwise doing any writing without such a qualification marked you out an impostor, a quack, a fraud , a counterfeit etc.. etc. What a shame. Where would such like Fyodor Dostoyevsky , Robert Frost, James Joyce, William S. Burroughs, Jack London, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Joseph Conrad, Harper Lee and dozens of other literary frauds , done with such an unbelieving people ?
Plaudits and philistines I salute you all.