‘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.
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.
Traffic cleared and we moved away. My Mom turned to us.
“Did you see the madwoman?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “No…”
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.
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.
The only consolation I have is that if I were insane I probably wouldn’t know.