Madness

‘Ewuo!’ someone in the taxi exclaimed.

I had my nose in a novel but I heard — and wished I hadn’t. I knew by instinct what was going on. I dreaded the spectacle but I tore my gaze from my book and looked up.

There were multiple sighs of ‘chai!’ and ‘ehyaa’ from the taxi driver and our fellow passengers.

“She’s so young. Her breasts are still standing,” my Mom said. “Poor girl.”

The ‘girl’ in question was a young woman in her early twenties. She was topless. Her arms were lifted above her head as in a dance. She had just a tight miniskirt on and was swinging her hips with complete abandon as she cat-walked on the sidewalk.

She was beautiful.

Traffic was at a standstill at Artillery Bus Stop, close to the infamous Rumuodara Junction with it’s after-work ‘go-slow.’ She couldn’t have chosen a better moment to appear. People stopped, turned to look at her and shook their heads sadly. For once, none of the men ogled her chest. A few women wept.

She had been normal half an hour before.

Madness.

I was still in primary school, eight years old and trying to be an adult, but in those moments I ceased trying to act grownup. Unconsciously, I grabbed my mother’s hand. If I weren’t negroid I’d have been death-pale. My heart raced with fear and I looked away.

Madness.

Traffic cleared and we moved away. My Mom turned to us.

“Did you see the madwoman?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “No…”

Madness.

From the extremely violent lunatic with the wild hair who directed traffic at Oilmill Junction to the ones who walked in a line while beating gongs, the only emotion I’ve ever felt towards the insane has been terror. I’ve never had nightmares in my life — except the ones with madmen [or women] in them.

The mere sight of them makes my skin crawl — even thinking about them does the same thing to me. Coming across one is more than sufficient to spoil my day. The terror is absolute and when I can, I avoid the location for weeks. The ones in movies give me nightmares for days afterwards — one of the reasons I dread Nigerian films.

Madness.

The paranoia extends into my other thoughts. For some reason I’m so scared of going insane that I do my own self-examination several times a week. Irrational, but it’s a habit that’s stayed with me from my wee young years. I look at things I’ve done and ask myself if ‘normal’ people would do the same thing. I’ve read my Mom’s psychology books since I was nine [she's a teacher] and the only thing I’ve found out is that it’s called Agateophobia.

Madness.

The only consolation I have is that if I were insane I probably wouldn’t know.

Comments

  1. nilla says:

    Okay, Let me be the first to tell you you’re not insane.

    It reminded me of home though,(all those locations: artilery, oil mill, rumoudara)

  2. what caused this woman to do this? or was it just a random thing?

    oh, i guess my father’s saying won’t help your fears much… he always says “Everyone goes crazy in their own way…”

    so yea, we’re all crazy, and your way of going crazy is being scared shitless of crazy people… don’t ya love the irony?

  3. haha, i just noticed after seeing my post up… must be great to see two comments, the first saying you’re not insame and the next saying you are…

  4. The way you describe your reaction makes me think that it’s more of a violently emotional reaction than a considered logical one.

    I’ll ask a question – and forgive me if this is too personal. (If it is, please don’t feel obliged to answer it.) How would you handle it if – God forbid – someone close to you had a breakdown that plunged them into the bleak world of mental illness? How would you deal with (what appears to be) your instinctive reaction to mad people?

  5. I read a quote somewhere that says something like ‘only the insane never question their sanity’… so I think it might not be such a bad thing.. your reaction that is…honestly… I was going to put up a post here sometime about my reaction to old people… mind you not older people(40,50,60 )… I mean old people as in 70,80,90… I don’t know if this is a newer reaction cos I don’t remember feeling that way about my paternal grandparents in Naija(they’re dead)… and I’d be interested in seeing if I feel the same way when I go to see my maternal grandparents in Nigeria. Cos asides from that… old people for some strange reason… I don’t know… make me uncomfortable? I don’t even think that’s the word… But it’s not ‘scared’… I don’t really know… I’m gonna do some thinking and try to put my ‘thoughts into the right words’… All our ‘fears’ are quite interesting aren’t they?

  6. Azuka says:

    Nilla
    Thanks for the props. Did you grow up in Port Harcourt?

    Nikita
    I really don’t know what made her go insane. I just picked one of my encounters and tried to recall it vividly. Well, no point fighting it then. Everyone has their take on it :D.

    Atala Wala Wala
    I think it’s my fear of irrationality displayed by the insane combined with my natural tendency to keep away from strangers.

    Your question isn’t bad. I’ve actually thought about it before and surmised that my reaction towards the person wouldn’t change, and neither would my reaction towards the other insane.

    Overwhelmed
    Yes, the fears we have seem real to us, but sometimes they may indicate we’re bonkers to others. Alfred Hitchcock had a fear of eggs — now can you beat that? I was reading his Wikipedia article and felt I should blog about my own fear.

    When’re you making your next blog post ;-)?

  7. nilla says:

    @ Azuka
    Yes I did

    @ ONB
    I’m happy to see you here…
    Was wondering if you left your blog. Take care of you girl.

  8. Afropinay says:

    There’s something about this post that says something about me. I won’t say I am MAD, but sometimes I think I am insane. *confused*

    Smiles and Exits

  9. Azuka,

    Just to clarify… do you mean “fear of irrationality” or “fear of unpredictability”?

    After all, we are all ‘irrational’ in one way or the other… when you are passionate about a particular cause or activity, you can pursue it to lengths that make people call you ‘irrational’.

    But I would understand if your fear was the fear of unpredictability. After all, most of us want to know that our universe is under control. But you’d be surprised – if you got to deal with people who were suffering from mental illness, you’d find that there is some ‘method’ to their ‘madness’, and they aren’t quite as unpredictable as you might think – the thing is that you now have to work out a way of dealing with them which is different from how you’d deal with ‘normal’ people.

  10. mack says:

    I agree with most of the posts on here.

    “mad” people are people with worse chemical imbalances than others we call “normal”.
    It is funny though that no matter how “mad” someone is, he can still count money, the chemical imbalance never affects that part.

    I won’t go mad, but may die of a heart attack. My mind is under control, I can’t get madder than already am. My problem is my heart; Whatever I feel, or think (no matter how tedious) never affects my brain. But even by you telling that simple story, I felt adrenalin, and it felt like my heart pumped it; Sometimes my heart beats pound so hard i can almost taste blood, it’s wired but that’s where i feel the world at.

    Don’t worry you aight. when you start losing it, I’ll let you know.

  11. sokari says:

    Check out “The Divided Self” by R D Laing – exceptional book on sanity and insanity – the thesis being that it is those perceived to be sane that are actually insane ie only a mad person is able to negotiate the so called “normal” world and sleep well at night!

    I find myself referring to this book from time to time to try to understand my own sanity or sometimes lack of it:)

  12. Azuka says:

    Afropinay
    We both know from our discussions what I think about you ;-).

    Atala Wala Wala
    I meant both. Unpredictability of irrationality (whatever that means). I see where you’re coming from, but will I ever be bold enough to try to understand their ‘method’?

    Mack
    I’m laughing at the counting money aspect. There’s a mad man my friend told me about in his village. The children used to go to him to teach them mathematics. In the moments when he was working out mathematical equations, he was perfectly normal.

    Are you sure I’ll believe you if I become mad? :-P

    Sokari
    The visit to my blog is appreciated.

    You might add that only the insane are a hundred percent certain of their sanity [or so my uncle says].

    The book sounds interesting. I’ll get it off Amazon.

  13. Jem says:

    WOW …. that was very very strange on the young woman. I wonder what made her mad ?? You never know eh… naija and juju sef! Who knows …

    “You read your Mom’s psychology books when you were 9? That my dear is nothing even slightly resembling madness, it is a gift”

    err…. i dnt get wats with the irrationality and insane tip tho. Those are two different variants to me. (confused)

  14. omo naija says:

    before i comment . dang you write exceptionally well. this is my first time on your blog you are able to project the emotions you feel. sanity is delicate, when it is lost its hard to regain. I guess we all work that delicate balance not between sanity and madness but between sanity and neuroticism or paranoia.

  15. Biodun says:

    We all have some type of phobias, but ur’s is rather strange, lol dont mind me. I cant stand anything that crawls aside from babies, bugs r the worst, after seeing a cockroach ran down my body @ age 7, that was it for me!

  16. Azuka says:

    Jem
    Only God [and maybe the people who were with her] know what made her mad.

    Well, I read her psychology books when I was young, but didn’t understand close to 100% of what I read. I can still remember a lot of stuff though, and today I think I understand them better.

    I always have a feeling that someone mad has a probability of doing something extremely ‘crazy’ to or around me. That’s what I meant by irrationality.

    Omo Naija
    Welcome, and thanks. I happen to like your style better though. Thoughts expressed in their unorganized form appeal much to me because the little interesting extras haven’t been stripped away. I can’t believe I was able to project my emotions — most people know me to be extremely unemotional.

    Thanks once again.

    Biodun
    Now I know the right Halloween present for you — a box of cockroaches!

    I can’t stand most crawly things too, but I can bear seeing them. I only got alarmed when I was young every time my elder brother picked a millipede with his fingers. It used to gross us all out. He’d make jokes about breaking it in two and sucking all the juice out. Yuck!

  17. Elle says:

    Totally agree with Nilla, you are not crazy! I have seen it before. sad really.

  18. Keshi says:

    I guess she was a lil insane and she obviously didnt know that…how sad.

    Keshi.

  19. taureanminx says:

    I guess we can’t explain the irrational fears. I’m scared of flying and even if I was told that it was 100% certain that that the plane would reach its destination in tip top shape, it wouldn’t prevent the irrational fear. Its just something we have to deal with..or you can see someone for it..I watched a doctor cure a lady from a fear of feathers!!

  20. snazzy says:

    I’m of the view that as long as society thinks you are sane, you are sane. Take for example talking to yourself. Everybody does it (stop lying, you know u do), but it is labelled as non-normal behavior so everyone denies doing it (tell the truth and let the devil be ashamed). Oh and can I just say I love the naijaness of the “her breasts are still standing” comment you say your mom made.

  21. Azuka says:

    Elle
    Yipee! I’m normal

    Keshi
    Yeah, it really is…

    Taureanminx
    I guess we need a little fear in our lives to keep us on our toes ;-)

    Snazzy
    I don’t talk to myself out loud. Does that count? ;-)

    About the naijaness, that’s my mom for you.

  22. uzo says:

    Hmm…I am absolutely terrified of little people….I like you, have bad dreams, cant see them without shivering. One time, one came up to me and tapped me trying to sell me one of the movies written by and starring little people. I almost broke into a sprint. I dont know why….its insane isnt it?

  23. Naijabloke says:

    Which one be her boobs was still standing again ..LOL

    Well I guess thatz part of why my mum is always trying not to make me come home..

  24. Azuka says:

    Uzo
    It’s not insane, or I wouldn’t say it is. Have you had any negative experiences with little people?

    Naijabloke
    I’m just a narrator. No be for my mouth that one come…

  25. Jem says:

    i shall be waiting on the next update to comment…. lol, i am way over my head with this madness one. (joke)

  26. Vera Ezimora says:

    If it makes you feel any better, you’re already mad. I mean, you take tests to make sure you’re not mad. That’s madness, baby.

    Are you mad? You have to be mad.

    My mother says it’s not only a naked person on the street that is mad. Seemingly normal people can be mad without knowing it.

    So how can a mad person take tests to make sure he is not mad? That’s madness on its own

  27. Nyemoni says:

    I think every human being has inherent madness to a certain degree. Don’t quote me cos I didn’t get this out of a book but it’s just my opinion. It only comes out when we are faced with situations we least expected… That said, I don’t think you are mad… Not certifiably at least.

    Btw, thanks 4 stopping by my blog…

  28. Afropinay says:

    LMAO!! Vera oh.. dont kill me..

    Azuka.. wer art thou? hope u never run mad..:p

  29. taureanminx says:

    @uzo, thats the funniest thing ive ever heard. I nearly dropped out of my chair.

  30. I wouldn’t exactly call this paranoia. Every ‘sane’ person has got a phobia that would in most cases appear ridiculous to others.

    The truly insane fear nothing. It’s just a little amusing that yours happens to be a case of fearing insanity. Examining our fears does help us overcome them. Wonderful narrative by the way. Got here from Guy Horny’s.

  31. wow – what a way to narrate a story and at the same time present a message so clear. It is one of the many challenges that we scientists face, when looking for a drug target – how to cure the insane. There might be drugs available for the syptoms, but the core mechanism for prevention or cure still needs identifying.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post.

  32. teva says:

    You know what baffles me the most? The fact that as christains, we are supposed to have power to stop such things. To cast out demons and in this case madness! How do we ever hope to affect our world if there’s no difference between us and the other spectators?
    wouldnt it have been nice, if 10 people surrounded that young lady and prayed the demon out?

  33. belle says:

    instead of fear…how about empathy?

  34. Vera Ezimora says:

    Where did this mad boy go to? He has coded himself into madness o.

    Well, it was fun knowing him while he was not all that mad.

  35. Azuka says:

    Phew. I go away to sort myself out and when I return I see a deluge of comments…

    Jem
    Oh dear, not another call to update. I just might be out of ideas.

    Vera
    Look who’s talking. We both know you’re mad :lol:

    Nyemoni
    It’s what keeps the blogosphere spinning — we visit each others’ blogs.

    Afropinay
    I’m right here. Alive and kicking. We’ve got a date tonight.

    The Professor
    You write pretty good stuff too [I know, I shouldn't be reading it :-D].

    TLOASCM
    My Dad once told me some people are not really mad. They just choose to go insane because they think life isn’t worth it. A little jolt and they’re out of the stupor.

    Teva
    I wouldn’t agree entirely with you. More madness cases are from nervous breakdowns and biological factors than from the spiritual.

    Belle
    I’m trying. Honestly, I am.

    Vera
    Take your time oh!

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