“Come on in,” said Antoinette (Toni) Mulama of the East African Standard newspaper, greeting me with an easy smile and a firm handshake for her small body at the door of her office in the Standard Group building on Mombasa Road. Her hands were as sleek and cold as a snake. She motioned to an old, black leather chair in front of her desk. “Have a seat,” she said. “You even look sweeter than your voice.” It wasn’t a compliment, and given her reputation as a joker in the media circles, it was funny enough.
“Thanks,” I said, gingerly settling in.
She went straight to the point. “Gwendolyn told me,” she went on. “She didn’t go into the details, though.”
“That’s because I didn’t give her much,” I told Toni.
Toni Mulama is a veteran journalist, lawyer, Shakespearean poet and a novelist. I read most of her articles on The Standard’s Friday magazine, Pulse, where she calls herself Divas Diva as a celebrity gossip columnist; and Saturday Standard’s magazine, Woman’s Instinct where she writes the ‘Also Girls’ article and ‘The Nitegals’.
“Well, Shiri,” Toni said. “As I told Gwen, I am happy to talk to you about anything about your book. How about we start?”
“Sure, why not?”
“So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Actually, I’d like you to help me out with some background on the novel,” I said. “Verisimilitude and all that.”
“No kidding. I’ve never got that request before, especially from a decorated writer like you.”
Ouch! Did she just say that?
I blushed, seriously.
Therefore, I went through all what I had – theme, plot, style and all that. In the end, I realized that she was an admirer of one humourist – Wahome Mutahi (Whispers) – she kept on referring to during the interview.
When we were through with the interview, she asked me whether I liked Thai food. “Oh, am dating a Thai guy.”
It was just about half past one o’clock and she was kinda telling me that lunch hour was almost over.
“I know just the place to be.”
We left her tiny office shortly afterwards, after giving me an autographed copy of her anthology of poems – What If I Am A Literary Gem. Jeez, I wondered. What is it with Kenyan poets’ titling their books by posing questions? I had met another poet at a poetry night event a month before, Tony Mochama, and he’d given me a copy of his collection of poems – What If I Am a Literary Gangster – and his latest novel, Princess Adhi and the Naija Coca Broda.
That was on Wednesday. I still have three weeks to go before my sick leave is over, and I have decided to utilize that time fully.
I have hired some university students and interns at our office to do the research for the novel and it’s coming up well.
I tend to forget about the BaC’s day, but not under the watching eye of the girls.
Copyright ©Elove, 2012.