“Oh No, I’ve Run Mad Again” I – The Mad Hearter

“Oh No, I’ve Run Mad Again” I – The Mad Hearter

This story is inspired by a young Nigerian woman who was murdered by her husband on June 24, 2011.  No one knows exactly what transpired between them that day but when she didnt show up for work, family and friends got concerned and called the police. When they got to the couple’s home, they found her dismembered body.


 


They say when death approaches, you know.

I often wonder if I’d notice death, on my way to cross the street, in a plane, on a boat cruise, saying ‘this would be the day’.

I wondered as her insides turned out on the cold kitchen floor, if that morning as she brushed her hair, if she knew that death was following her…

 

The Mad Hearter.

 

“Did you see it again today?”Jumai whispered to Ben in the break room.

Ben raised a brow and stirred his coffee, not saying anything.

“I think we should tell the police.” Jumai asserted.

“Jumai, I think we should mind our business.” Ben replied firmly.

“What good would come of it?”

“We tell the police, they’ll ask him if he did, he’ll deny it and she’ll be in big trouble.”

“Boarding house should have taught you that much! You don’t snitch!” He finished, taking a bite of his donut.

Jumai was unsatisfied, “I still think we should do something.”

“I agree with you. I recommend we shut up and mind our own business.”

Jumai hissed, “Men! Talking to you guys is like talking to the bark of a tree, useless!”

Ben looked up at her from the rim of his mug and shrugged.

She’d already submitted two anonymous letters to the manager, citing the need for urgent investigation and assistance.

Her co-worker, Linda, had been showing up with all manner of bruises for months and although she tried her hardest to disguise the marks, it was painfully visible.

Everyone in the office knew but they didn’t want to interfere, worse no one knew how to ask the question “Is your husband hitting you?

§   

I recall from my childhood, a neighbour of mine.

Her name was Edet. A light skinned lady with big bulgy eyes. I recall that Edet regularly had huge red blotches on her face, made worse with foundation that was two shades darker than her skin tone.

But no one said anything.

We smiled politely at the grocery store and made our hair at the same place.

I recall her eyes screaming out to me, I remember her eyes had a message for me. I just didn’t know what it was then, but what I recall is that, no one said anything…

§   

Linda’s husband was said to be a man disappointed too many times by life.

He graduated the top of his class but never found a job.

He’d ironed shirts, polished shoes and knotted ties. Climbed stairs and smiled as he handed out copies of his resume, but he was never called back.

In the end, he tucked away his pretty shirts and humbly accepted the government issued jumpsuits.

His dream had been to repair the roads as an engineer. His reality became repairing the streets, one scrap of paper at a time as a cleaner.

Linda, his wife, didn’t go to a University like him; she went to college, night school actually.

With the money he had made cleaning the streets.

Now, she worked in a bank.

She wore the suits and polished shoes and made a pretty knot with a scarf round her neck.

She paid the bills and made the meals.

She became him and he resented her for it.

He had nothing left of ‘man-ness’ but his fists, and he sure showed her who the man was.

I knew Linda, not dearly, but enough.

She respected everyone and adored him.

Yet he hit her.

I truly wonder, if as she brushed her hair and slipped in her heels, if she knew death followed her.

§   

“Linda!”Jumai waved and quickly caught up with her.

“Linda, would you like to stay over at my house for the week?”

Linda stared back, confused, “A week? What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Well, I need your help with some reports.”She quickly added.

“Jumai, I’m married. I can’t leave my house for a week!”

“Perhaps during the break and after work, we could work on the reports.” She smiled and turned away.

“Linda, please don’t go home. I know your husband beats you and I’m scared for you” The words hung in her throat but never came out.

“Sure, thanks!”Jumai called after her.

“Tomorrow, I’ll talk to her. Yes tomorrow.” Jumai grabbed her keys and headed home.

 

§                                                

He kicked off his boots at the door.

It had been a long and tiring day.

He’d been assigned a street that had had a party the previous day and the garbage was ridiculous.

Hungry, he stormed into the kitchen, but there was no food.

He frowned, “this is the kind of nonsense that I don’t like.”

He looked into the bedroom, his wife wasn’t home.

He glanced at the clock on the wall, it was 7pm. She got off work at 6pm.

The bank was at best thirty minutes away from the house. What was taking so long?

Hungry he paced about the house, gradually becoming more and more vexed.

It wasn’t as though he could just storm out and buy food from a canteen. He had no money!

The supervisor wasn’t in town, so he wasn’t going to be paid for another week.

He needed her to give him money.

The thought provoked him even more.

8pm, and she still wasn’t home.

“She’s leaving!”

“That’s what it has to be! Why else wouldn’t she come home?”

He trembled in fear.

Even he knew he hadn’t been the best spouse, but he loved her in his own special way.

After all, he did pay for her lessons; the lessons that got her the job.

He heard the footsteps approach the door.

“Linda!”

She isn’t running away!

“Sorry, a tanker fell over so I’ve been stuck in traffic.”

“I’m sure you’re hungry!” she took her shoes off and rubbed her feet.

“Oh so you have come back from work to insult me ehn?

“What are you talking about?”

“You’re insinuating that if you don’t provide food for me, I wouldn’t eat.”

 He grabbed her neck and dragged her up.

“You’re choking me!” she croaked.

“Every day, you flash your money in front of me. Every day you go to your office and make jokes about me. How I can’t provide for you and how you give me allowances.”

“I don’t I swear.”She cried.

“But you do!” He grabbed her tighter.

Suddenly she wasn’t just Linda, she was ‘the system’.

She was the system he hated; the system that wouldn’t give him a job; the system that took his manhood from him. He hated the system.

If he could hold the system by the neck, he’d take a knife and plunge it deep into its sides and watch it bleed.

Yes, bleed, the way they had made him bleed.

He’d watch the blood ooze out and life slowly ebb from it.

All he’d ever wanted to be was an engineer, he never realised that he’d struggle to even recall how to be a man.

If he could hold the system by the throat, he’d slice it open and remove the good fortune from within it and smear it over himself so he’ll never lack.

It wouldn’t matter if the system choked on its blood and gargled for help. He wouldn’t mind, in fact he wanted the system to weep and scream for help.

If he could…

Something fell from his hands. Distracted by the sounds he snapped out of his reverie.

“Linda?”

“Linda?”he screamed.

“What have I done?”

“Help!!! Help!!”

“Somebody please help me!!”               

The neighbours rushed in, but it was too late.

They clasped their hands on their heads and lamented.

They’d all heard the screams but didn’t want to interfere, and now it was too late

“It was supposed to be the system!”He clasped his bloody hands on his head.

“It was the system” he explained to on lookers.

Outside Jumai locked her car door and quickly strode towards the house.

Linda had forgotten her watch in the ladies room.

She made her way through the mass of people at the bottom of the steps and into the living room.

“Linda!” she gasped.

On the kitchen floor laid the lifeless form of her co-worker.

Her body chopped up and mangled. Her insides all out on the kitchen floor for all to see.

“I shouldn’t have waited!”

“I shouldn’t have waited till tomorrow.” She sat on the blood stained floor and sobbed uncontrollably.

 

 

§   

 



23 thoughts on ““Oh No, I’ve Run Mad Again” I – The Mad Hearter” by Mobola (@mobola)

  1. Not bad. The sentences were too short in some case, and the spacing was too much. Your style of though projection was inconsistent, in some cases using italics, n in others like a normal speech.

    Nice story, but it can be polished.

    1. Thank Raymond
      The sentences are that way as its more of a poetic story than a plain short story.
      The use of Italics are for when I am speaking as opposed to the characters
      Thanks for commenting though.

  2. Nice storyline. The evolution of the wife breadwinner is an undeniable reality in our society today. I also think that you could have fleshened up some parts of the narration but anyways your style is really up to you. Enjoyed the typos-free reading. Well done!

    1. Thanks Ife
      Don worry, with time, you’ll get really fleshy posts
      I’m only warming up!

  3. I like the way you retold this. Yes, the sentences were short in some places but they work. For me at least.

    Not bad.

    1. Thanks Seun
      appreciate the comment
      Keep watching this page, I’ll def blow your mind as time flies :)

      1. And then…what do you mean by ‘The Mad Hearter’?

        1. The story comes from a series of short stories that I’m writing, called “Oh No, I’ve run Mad again!” And in the “Mad Hearter” in this case is as a result of a love relationship. My assumptions are the woman stayed with him because she loved him.

  4. Quite interesting.

  5. Very unfortunate (the real story), and I must say you did a good job in portraying an “insider’s view” to the event. I also felt some sentences were too short and abrupt , but since you said its a poetic story , I get the picture. Good job.

  6. Very unfortunate (the real story), and I must say you did a good job in portraying an “insider’s view” to the event. I also felt some sentences were too short and abrupt , but since you said its a poetic story , I guess it’s your preferred style. Good job.

    1. Thanks, I appreciate the feedback!

  7. Ah, another attempt at prosetry. This one read better than mine. But watch out for the line jumping. Keep one speaker’s words on the same line.

    But rules are meant to be broken, abi? Only on NS.

    This “man” thing sef. It’s the same everywhere o. What makes a man a man? In the west, seems like the man has evolved. He does not kill his wife because she works and he doesn’t, or she makes more money. Ever heard of Mr. Mom?

    Coming to Africa real soon.

    1. I quite agree, I dont think that just because your spouse(woman) is doing better, doesnt mean she should be murdered, but I dont think Africans are ready for a Mr Mum generation.
      Most of them still think a womans place is in the kitchen!
      In this case however, emasculation plus Nigeria’s current state can make anyone crazy enough!

  8. I love the way you portrayed this.
    Too often, many of us make the mistake of not ‘interfering’ till it’s too late.

    1. Thanks lade, appreciate the comment!
      I know, its very tricky! Most people get in trouble for speaking( the mind your own business attitude) and damned if you dont, you end up watching ppl like this dying right in front of you!

    1. Thanks for passing by and leaving a comment!
      Appreciate it!

  9. I enjoyed your debut on Naija Stories, @mobola. I’m not so sure about the ending lines where Jumai says shouldn’t have waited; I think we probably know that she would be thinking that already, so it’s superfluous to me. I also didn’t really get the POV switches from 3rd to 1st person.

    But I liked the way you showed how circumstances changed the man over time, using lines like

    His dream had been to repair the roads as an engineer. His reality became repairing the streets, one scrap of paper at a time as a cleaner.

    And I liked the way you showed the progressive build up to the final tragic scene.

    Please accept 20 points.

  10. I absolutely like it. It’s a clear departure from the status quo but you swinged it nicely with the poetic infusion into the narrative. Sterling writing,brilliant style!

  11. Its ok for a start! Though the story was flowing but there is room for improvement!

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