I swear it was a mistake. There was only one bed left...beside the old black gentleman with a laptop. The pool was empty but the beds were filled with red bodies, grilling themselves in the sun but there was one bed left.The man did not even notice me, he was busy staring at something on the grass..I thought he was asleep with his eyes open....you know how old people sleep funny. Anyway, so I was adjusting my bikini, the one I bought at some strange shop where they had nothing my size except for the bikini...all brown with some coloured dots here and there...childish I know...but it looked good on me...and my ass. Anyway, I am wondering if he is asleep when he suddenly looks up and still, I don't even know that it is him. He smiles at me, like he is giving me permission to sleep on the bed beside him...and it is then he says...
"Yes, you can stop staring, it is me"
I swear I thought he had gone nuts...maybe he thought I was a long lost grand child or something, so I just smile at him and relax on my sun bed or whatever it is called. Just at that moment, when I was finally getting comfortable on my bed, I hear...
"Would you like anything else Mr. Soyinka?"
Somebody shoot me! It is Wole Soyinka, so I sit up of course, you how you've always had so many questions for certain people? So of course, I could not miss this opportunity so I sit up and say...
"Are you going to swim later on?"
He looks at me like the lost grand daughter and says "No,I am not"
"Oh, Of course not...I understand...your hair"
"Yes, I understand it must be such hard work taking care of your hair...you must always be so careful...seeing that its your trade mark...you know there's a hair style called "wole soyinka"? okay, I am not sure if there is, but I call anybody who has an afro "wole soyinka". I used to call a friend of mine that but then I realised her afro was not really like yours...it was more like Kramer's...in Seinfields...so I called her "Kramer". Anyway, but most artists want your kind of Afro...I have a friend...he looks terrible, I can't imagine why he won't cut the damn hair...he looks like a vagabond...a delinquent...he just looks terrible...and he won't cut his hair. He says he is growing his hair....he wants it to be like "wole soyinka". Imagine how many parents all over the world are going crazy over this hair business...anyway, that's not your fault....so what are you writing? Your next sequel?"
"Sequel to what?"
"Oh you know...that book, You must set forth at dawn your memoir?
"Have you read it?"
"I am sad to say I have not...I don't know, I have a peculiar habit...it’s like Chimanda's novel...Half of a yellow sun...I got it, free from a friend, did not pay a dime, guess how long it sat on my shelf? Over six months! Imagine! And it’s not like when I read it, I did not like it, no sir! quite the opposite. I did enjoy it...but I don't know...certain books...the sheer size of it...I am an impatient person, I read a book in a day...I don't have time for reading the same book two days in a row...or you know some people take weeks? even months? I could never do that...but you see, the problem is there are too many books to read...I don't want one book holding me back from reading others you know...not enough time in the world...but I will get around to reading it...it’s just why read only one book when you can read two or even three...but I will read it."
"So how long has my book been sitting on your shelf?"
"Oh, over a year now"
He goes back to staring at the grass and I look at him closely...his skin still looks good, not so much pigmentation...I wonder if he noticed my own skin...young...and smooth...if he worries about his skin at all...
"So do you use sun screen?"
"No, I don't"
"So how do you maintain it?"
"Your hair. I bet you use those nice American products...something that ends with a "sheen" but not like our kessingsheen...something more Americanish....it must be hard though...for the other hair on your body...imagine just the hair on your head being famous...that must be hard for the rest"
"Well, it was nice to meet you...have fun swimming"
"Oh, it was nice to meet you too. I’ll try to read your book...as soon as possible"
And that is how I met Wole Soyinka.
Note: I will take it for a given that we all know that there is a Wole Soyinka in the world and that he did write a book called You Must Set Forth At Dawn, however the character in this story is a complete fiction. I have never met Wole Soyinka or any other person who bears that name.