In The Eyes Of A MadMan
A mad man sees things that no one else sees and he laughs because the things he sees are beautiful.
Nnadi, a young man newly entering his second decade in Umuturu village, placed a pad upon his shoulder and lifted the basket of cassava onto it. He whistled as he plotted his way out of the farm wielding his knife against the undergrowth, the farm had yielded generously this season. The plot, well placed at the side of the hill–when the rains came, the water would rush calmly through – near the market, was the source of a tension between his father and an uncle after their father died. A legal battle had named Nnadi’s father the owner of the land.
Nnadi walked away from the farm in his stoutly gait. He stared at the palm trees along the farm and could see red ripening nkwu, he made a mental note to come back for them. Suddenly he saw a bird coming at him hastily out of nowhere, its wings were steady, and it seemed to glide. He thought, as all birds did, this one would fly past him but how wrong he was.
The bird ran into him with so much force. He fell to the ground, the tubers of cassava tumbled away from the basket and everything went black.
In an instant vision was restored. The sun peeked into his widening eyes, the rays settled and it formed a smile in the sky. The clouds were puffs of smoke that ran speedily across the heavens, frolicking with the sun and dancing away.
He sat up and marveled at the new scenery; the road was a glistering rush of purple, the bushes were fields of daffodils that sang like angels and the wind caressed his skin. He thought of heaven and started to smile that he had made it. Behind him a band approached; they sang and cheered, bathed in ululations. An old man played his flute and led the procession while women and children danced behind him wielding gongs and they made good music. A young buy played the ekwe, it was Chinedu.
Chinedu had been Nnadi’s best friend till Chinedu died in an auto crash outside of the village. Nnadi was glad to see him and so when the procession caught up with him, he joined their dancing. He wiggled his bottom to the drum; he laughed and pointed when someone did a funny dance.
They started to run; suddenly it was only he and Chinedu. They ran till they got to the market square. Excitement gripped him. The goats stood on their hind legs and waved their fronts, the cocks waved their wings like trees and spun around, the people were all naked, and dancing. He laughed loudly at the sight but all the same, he threw off his clothes too and danced with them.
Soon the whole crowd broke, here and there, people ran and vanished to thin air, the dancing goats now stood on four feet, the chickens pecked ants on the ground. Other people appeared wearing stern faces, he suddenly realized he was being tied by hefty men. He struggled to get out of the ropes but they were too taut. He finally let them take him.
Nnadi’s father was there. Someone had rushed to his house to tell him that his son was dancing naked in the market. They took Nnadi to the dibia. The dibia took a cock round Nnadi’s head three times then raised it to the sky while making incantations.
In Nnadi’s eyes, the dibia was the evil masquerade with large horns and swelling eyes, each time he came near him with an object, his head loomed and his face was amazingly grotesque. Several times he struggled to get away from the dibia but was drawn back by the hefty men.
‘An evil spirit is upon your son’ Said the dibia to Nnadi’s father
‘Ah. My lord, who put it there’? He cried
‘Someone you have offended’
‘I know it is Emeka. Why would he not leave this parcel for me biko nu? My lord, what must we do?’
‘You must let him bathe with water from the Umuturu stream for seven days, then you would bring him back to me and I would know what to do with him’
‘Thank you my lord, we go at once’ he starts to take his leave, gesturing at the hefty men to pull Nnadi along
The spirits that have possessed him’
‘My lord, what about them?’
‘They seek to kill him completely. You must hurry’
Nnadi is calm as they place a bucket of cold water in front of him. He scratches his head and looks around him. The trees stand akimbo with a malicious grin on their faces. A bird flutters past his face and as he watches it, it turns and says ‘drink’.
Nnadi stoops to drink from the bucket but is stopped by a man who had been chosen by Nnadi’s father as a minder. Nnadi looks to the stream, the undulating flow of the water, tumbling over rocks and stones. A hand emerges and beckons him to the water. He laughs and then stands and for the first time he notices that he had been unbound. The single hand is now two, then four, then eight and soon the whole water is a flood of summoning hands. He starts to run for it, quickly into the river of hands.
Nnadi had jumped into the water before anyone could reach him. The hands carried him farther and farther until he was no more.
Written by Kay Ugwuzor
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