Dearest Beautiful Tosin Otitoju,
On the morning of 26th June, 2012, I stepped out of my hotel-room on Calle Diputacio in Barcelona, waiting for a taxi. I was thinking about you. Why? Because that morning was a defining moment in the history of my life as a writer. I had arrived Barcelona a night before that morning, waiting anxiously, to meet Anna Soler-Pont, the founder of one of the biggest agencies in the world, Pontas Literary & Film Agency the next day. Pontas represents some of the most famous authors in the world, including Jonas Jonasson from Sweden. The moment my taxi arrived and I jumped in and slammed the door, thoughts of you raced through my head.
Both of us alone know what I’m writing about. For a long time now, I’ve stayed away from attending public events for so many reasons and finally, moved out of Nigeria. Could it be shame? Could this be guilt? I have decided to address you in the open and say these few words to you.
In 2010, I was invited to attend the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. I am a budding author from Nigeria, so I was supposed to fund my trip to Hong Kong partly, because no one knows me. I was going to be on the same panel with South African writer, Andre Brink. It was a rare opportunity that I was not going to miss. Many great writers like Nury Vittachi already started heralding my arrival in Hong Kong. No one could come to my rescue. It was you, Tosin Otitoju that ‘funded’ my Hong Kong trip.
By the time I arrived Hong Kong, I was already broke. Tope David, my publisher’s friend from university lives there. He gave me a couch to crash in. That same night I arrived, you Tosin were worried about me. You sent a message to your Indian friend who happens to be a BIG man in Hong Kong. Your Indian friend invited his fellow Indians, who happen to be Professors. They took care of me. To confirm that they met me in Hong Kong, they sent you liquor, which I carried carefully down to Nigeria for you and you appreciated it so much. Do you know that sitting in that taxi, reminded me of that day I came to Lekki for you? I am not an ingrate. It is just that things don’t work as I always plan them. So, I stopped planning.
The few days I spent in Hong Kong and in Doha inspired a great story, which I started in Hong Kong, discarding the first draft of my second novel, Orchard of Memories, a story about a Chinese man living in Lagos. If I hadn’t gone to Hong Kong; no, if you hadn’t sent me to Hong Kong, I would not have started that story, I would not know about the superstitions the Hong Kongers cherish; I would not have seen Chungking Mansion and I couldn’t have used the ferries, at which station I met a group of Ghanaians who already knew me before I came, because of the reports of my encounter with the Hong Kong Immigration Department. If you hadn’t given me the support I needed, the Nigerian Consulate wouldn’t have organized that extravagant party for me at the ‘only revolving’ restaurant in Hong Kong. I would not have written Orchard of Memories and I would not have been signed to Pontas today in a way.
I am writing this to you, because everyday, Anna Soler-Pont sends me messages that show that I am finally a happy writer whose fortune is hanging by the staircase and he may just have to pick it himself.
I love and appreciate you so much, Tosin.