Nneoma Sally 1 year ago
@Barbiesally 18 min read Write a comment #short-stories

What Should Be Called Crazy?

What do the world deem as crazy? The mad men on the streets or those that left them to roam around the streets?

I was born quietly like those butterflies floating in the wind, like the early morning dew creeping without a sound, like those soundless moths flying towards bright lights. I was born in a hospital like every other child, and like every other child, I was expected to learn.

Know my surroundings and my environment and master them like any other child. I was supposed to be normal, growing from an infant to a clueless child. From a clueless child to a playful child. From a playful child to a mindless teenager. From a mindless teenager to a tactful teenager. From a tactful teenager to a grown adult. From a grown adult to a mature adult.

That was my responsibility. That was what nature had given me, has given every babe all and sundry. But why was I different? As abnormal as a butterfly that can't float in the wind, as stupid as a dew that drums the rooftops to announce its presence, or as noisy as the moth that flies towards any bright light.

When I was born, mama said that I had the creepiest honey-colored eyes, something that my great-great-great-great, I don't know how great grandfather had. It had been lost, and they believed that my multiple great-grandfathers had reincarnated themselves in me. Maybe he just wanted to live a modern life because he never had the chance when he was alive. Or maybe he wanted to creep everyone out because they were horrible to him when he was alive.

Whichever case, mama, thought that it was a blessing to see multiple great grandfathers again. Or that was the case until they knew they had asked the unasked. At first, while growing up, I wasn't able to crawl. They would bend my kneecap and expect me to crawl on the floor, but I would lie there, drawing invisible images in thin air.

They decided that I wasn't meant to crawl. Mama was excited that I wasn't able to crawl. She said I would be a special child like those children that would skip a growth stage and be something special in the future, like a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Anything that would require studying books. I was little back then, and I didn't know the high hopes she had placed on me. Maybe if I had known, I would have tried harder, fought it until it became mine to keep.

After I turned two, mama's high hopes for me shattered. I couldn't walk, and I couldn't crawl either. Was I lame? The doctor said no and that I will learn how to walk in due time. Mama hated it. I would hear her cry every night, and papa would console her. They would blame it on their enemies and reassure themselves that I was only a special child. Special children shouldn't grow fast. They grow very slowly to fool their future enemies into thinking that they are less better than them.

Walking wasn't the only problem back then. Before I turned one, I learned how to write faster than I learned how to speak. Writing came easy to me, but the problem is that I write with my left hand. Mama called it an abomination. Aka-ekpe, the left hand, is not meant to be noticed or seen. It can only be used when something happens to the right hand.

She forced me to learn how to write with my right hand, but I couldn't even hold a pen or a spoon with my right hand. It was practically useless, like a limp noodle. My left hand helped me a lot, but mama cried. She would lament and talk like she was speaking to someone in person, "Why do I have a son like this? Take him away. I don't need him."

I could understand her, but I couldn't say a word. Unlike every babe, I haven't spoken my first word to my parents. It's not that I withheld saying something. Maybe it's how sad mama and papa seem whenever they look at me. It forbade me to say anything. I was two years old when I spoke my first words, and they were, "Don't cry, mama." She wasn't as pleased as I thought she would be. She was angry at me. She screamed at me, and I shrank within myself. I never wanted to talk again.

Talking made mama angry, but it made papa happy. I only spoke when papa was around because he won't yell at me like mama or stare at me like every other person. I took my first steps when I was five. I was happy, and I looked at mama to see her reaction. She was neither happy nor sad. She shook her head and left the room. Papa clapped for me, and I clapped too. I wanted to walk only for papa, but it wasn't possible.

Mama sent me on any errand she could, making me talk by flogging me whenever I didn't. I don't hate mama, but she was making it hard. I don't like her, but I wanted her to be proud. My siblings alienated me by playing amongst themselves. I don't know why. I have tried all sorts of things to try and make them play with me, but they would run away whenever they saw me coming. Very soon, papa stopped being nice. He would usually exclaim, "Chinedu, stop acting like a child. You are fifteen, for God's sake."

I didn't act like a child. He just can't see it. My siblings grew up as normal children would, and mama was proud of them. But I didn't get her approval. I never did. The future couldn't have been any more bright. I was eighteen when mama sent me to the borehole to fetch water with one bucket. She has never done that. Usually, she would give me two buckets, a 50-liter gallon, or a big bowl. But this time, she gave me a small bucket that had no handle and had broken by the sides. I didn't complain. I remember that anytime I went to fetch water, my back or my neck would hurt. I thought she acknowledged that and decided to give me an insignificant bucket. I was so wrong.

I got back from the borehole sweaty and with water from the bucket spilling on my hair and clothes. The house was lively, and I thought that we had something to celebrate. Thinking about the fried chicken, Jollof, or fried rice and creamy salad made me salivate. I walked faster, but the bucket on my head slipped and fell. It broke in half, and I cried. Mama wouldn't be pleased. She would scream at me and make me carry those heavy burdens to the borehole, as well as double my house chores. I took the broken pieces and walked up to the house. I knocked at the gate, and no one replied. I knocked and knocked, but no one said anything. I sat down in front of the gate and waited.

I waited until dawn. I couldn't sleep. Chiekube was the first person that came out of the gate, and he spotted me, but he didn't say anything. I was excited to see him. He was my first breath of sunshine in a heavy storm, and I ran toward him. "Chiekube, I've been waiting since last night. Where are mama and papa? I am sorry I broke the bucket, but I can get another water for mama if she would give me another bucket."

Chiekube pushed me aside like he was trying to swat an annoying fly, and he left me. I didn't know what to do. Should I follow him, or should I wait? My fingers were inching to scratch my head. I didn't have lice or dandruff, but that was a habit I picked up. The more I scratched, the more confused I became until I was pacing the gate. I was biting my fingernails while my left hand scratched my head.

People stared at me, and some of them stopped and pointed. What were they looking at? Do I look like a scavenger? I screamed at them. I screamed till my voice was hoarse. Whenever anyone pointed, I screamed and chased that person, but it didn't matter what happened. Neither mama nor papa came out to speak with me.

Chiekube stared wide-eyed at me before running into the house and locking the gate. I stayed in front of the house for three days without food and water, but nobody came out of the house. They only did it when they needed something or papa had to go to work. After these torturous days, I knew that they didn't want me in their lives. They wanted me to go.

I couldn't go to school because I couldn't relate to my classmates, and I couldn't talk to my teachers. I don't write or read in school, and my teachers are always frustrated with me. I can't play with my peers in my neighborhood, and I can't play with my siblings. All I could do was work, but apparently, that wasn't enough for mama.

I cried and cried as I left my village. No one glanced at me or asked me why I was crying. They wanted me to go as well. It doesn't matter. I never liked them. I want them gone as well. I want them dead, especially mama and my siblings. Papa would be flogged and thrown in prison. He would stay there without any light like those men that would be locked up in those Philippine movies on the AIT channel. And he will rot there.

I glared at the ground that was moving because I was walking. I wanted to sound like those women in the Philippine movies, but I doubt I could ever sound like them. I'm useless and probably stupid, like mama would say about me.

I walked and walked. I don't know where I was, but I had not eaten anything since the last time I ate, which was before I was sent to fetch water. I couldn't eat even if I tried. My lips were dry, and my nose ached. It felt dry and stuffy. My eyes were dry, and my skin irritated me. It was a far cry from what I tolerated at my house, but I would prefer this to my former house.

It's very constant now. I don't know how many days, weeks, months, or years have passed, but they seem oddly familiar to me. All I knew was how people grew; those that were familiar to me as kids, I watched as they grew up into adults. At first, someone would stop and give me a note, clothes, or a flask of food. It's like they just wanted to help, or they just noticed someone different from them and thought that he needed something to complete him. I appreciated it at first, but then the whispers started.

"He's from Enugu-ezike."

"I heard that he was cursed by a dibia, native doctor."

"I heard that his evil relatives tossed him out of his home."

"I heard that he used his girlfriend in a money-making ritual and was never the same."

"I heard that he was part of a cult that believed in sacrificing old women to their god."

"I heard that he's a yahoo boy, money making by dubious means, and his time of enjoyment is gone. Now, he's undergoing a time of suffering."

"I heard he killed his best friend and used him for money-making rituals, but his best friend cursed him, and he was never the same."

Those whispers caused confusion within me. I don't know where they came from. The more I bit my fingernails, scratched my head, and paced, the more confused I got, and eventually, I screamed. I chased after anyone that looked at me. They are criminals, alien creatures that don't deserve to live on earth. I threw their darn flask back at them; their clothes mean nothing to me. I will live this earth scavenging. I screamed at them and threw stones at them.

Ever since then, they have avoided me. They would never stare at me. They refuse to speak to me, and they refuse to initiate close contact with me. Dubious, I thought. They were dubious people. I never grew taller, nor did I shrink. I remained the same, like the unchanging time. No matter how many man-made clocks, seasons, and celebrations pass, time will never change. I am that time. My clothes never changed, and I think I grew out my hair. I scratch my head often but not as much as when people stare at me. My fingernails were crooked, and they sometimes have caked brown sands from digging up termites, ants, or millipedes to eat or just digging for the fun of it.

I am laughing now. I laugh at anything that gives me joy. The little boy threw his pen into the pond. The man kicked his tire because his car stopped working. The woman struggled with her gele, hair tie, and heels as she ran to the church. The little kids ran after cars, screaming at them all the time. Those little things were so funny that I couldn't help but laugh.

My legs were long. I never noticed that. I sat close to one of the pillars and watched as people trooped through the gates. They were different in a way. Like the smallest person that would rather lie in someone's arms than walk with the biggest person that would match towards the gates like there's an award if they crossed the gates successfully.

One, two, three, four, I counted aloud, but someone blocked me; a young girl. She gave me one of those paper things people hold nowadays. I have never seen her before. She tied her hair in two pigtails and had only two teeth when she smiled. Then, with a squeaky voice, she said, "Daddy said that I should give you that."

Daddy? I thought. I have heard that word before. I know I have, but I don't remember when. I gave croak-like laughter that ended in a dry cough. The little girl shifted and glanced behind her. I wanted her to see what would happen after the cough. I wanted her to be around while I coughed. But she moved backward. I didn't know that I had gotten up until she turned around and started running.

I started chasing her while trying to hold my cough until the last minute. She has to see it, I thought. My cough means something to me. It has to mean something to her too. But the cough ended, and I spit out the blood. I stopped running and whipped my palms on my shorts. I felt like crying. Why wouldn't she just look at me? She was screaming as she ran and someone held her, an elderly woman. She turned toward me, and I froze. I know her. I turned away and left the compound.

Red, blue, green, yellow, they went in a blur. I fell to the floor and stared at the blue sky. I know that it's blue, but it just seemed ash-like. It was that color whenever it would rain droplets of water. I felt a drop of water like that salty liquid from my eyes. One, two, three, and it started falling like a storm. I couldn't get up. I lay there remembering her face. Mama looked older now, but her eyes were the same thing. I'm not happy like usual, but I am not sad. It feels tranquil, like the early morning breeze during the rainy season.

I was at peace, and I felt better than I had. Maybe I just had to see mama before I would be at peace, or maybe, I just had to see how well or how sad she was doing before I would be at peace. When I looked at her eyes, they were not happy, but they were not sad either. She had this reservation within her like she didn't regret it, but she didn't have to regret it to like it. Or maybe, this is just wishful thinking.

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