In most major cities in the world, I imagine it is common place to find people with mental health problems roaming the streets. In Nigeria, there are hundreds of them and we don’t bother with political correctness, we call them mad men…or women.
One afternoon, I decided to take a leisurely stroll from my house to the Texaco petrol station just opposite Bar Beach. I was going in search of a tub of FAN Vanilla Ice-Cream. I had been walking for less than 5minutes when I spotted a mad man across the street. I tried not to stare at him but I quickened my pace.
‘My wife, come!’
Oops. Mr mad man was calling me. Did he expect me to answer? I think not! I carried on walking, my pace quickening even more.
‘I’m calling you, come!’
I ignored him.
‘Small girl, be careful,’ I heard someone shout. I turned around to find the mad man sprinting towards me. I bolted down the street and spotting an open gate, ran into a stranger’s compound, slamming the gate shut. 10minutes, it took 10mins for the people on the streets to get the mad man to abandon his quest for my love and keep walking.
I was petrified. Any normal human being would have turned around and headed back home. Not MEE. I wasn’t going home without my ice-cream. I resumed my mission.
As I approached the junction of Bishop Oluwole and Ahmadu Bello, I spotted a mad woman sitting cross legged, drawing shapes in the sand. People were walking past her but she didn’t seem to care. Believing myself safe, I sauntered past.
‘Are you looking at me? Ki lo n wo?’
Aha, did I look at you?! I thought to myself. I beg leave me o! I stared straight ahead and kept walking.
‘Mo n ba e soro, ki lo n wo? What are you looking at?!’ She shouted after me.
‘Where are you running to? E duro jo!’
Wait for what? I carried on running. Next thing I knew, sticks and stones were flying past my head. The woman was playing target!
A few yards ahead, I spotted the petrol station. I sprinted onto its forecourt and grabbed one of the attendants.
‘Please help me, that woman wants to kill me!’
It took three attendants to restrain her. The station manager took me into the minute mart and gave me a glass of water. I sat there for 30mins nursing my fear. I stared at the tubs of FAN ice-cream sweating in the freezer. After all my efforts, they weren’t even frozen! Melting ice-cream in hand, I cautiously hit the streets. I kept looking around nervously, waiting for the were to re-appear. She didn’t disappoint me. As I approached that cursed junction, I saw her singing and laughing like she hadn’t a care in the world. I tried to make myself invisible. No such luck. As soon as she saw me, the smile on her face faded. She bent down, grabbed the hem of her sutana, and like a flash of lightening, bolted towards me. Kicking off my slippers, I ran for dear life and didn’t stop till I reached my house.
It wasn’t till I was safely behind my locked gates I realised I’d dropped the tub of ice-cream en-route.
Yes, it really did happen.