Yesterday I saw a man who looked exactly like a certain man from my village who roamed the streets of Lagos wearing a loin cloth and muttering to himself. Some people would call him mad, they might just be right. Then again he might have been reveling in his own version of sanity.
I can’t remember not knowing Agwo- his street name, he was always lurking in the corners of my mind. From curiosity about this man who my dad would talk to like he was normal, crack jokes with him and even walk with him a little. Maybe that was my first lesson in treating everyone with respect regardless of their current situation. I asked about him and learned he’d been a “big man” before he started having psychotic episodes, he was supposed to get married around the time too.
When I was about seven or eight years old, fanta introduced the fanta Chapman variant. It was a deep shade of red and the coolest drink in town, my brothers and I loved it. One day we were drinking Chapman in front of my grandmother’s shop with our dad and he walked by. He quickly turned into the shop and gave daddy an earful for allowing us to drink blood. I was amazed at the ferocity of his attack, it was only a red drink and not blood. My dad acted suitably chastised and apologised for allowing us drink blood, daddy explained later that Agwo really thought it was blood and even though it seemed crazy to us, we had to respect his reality. I felt rather sorry for him then.
Years later, a certain pastor claimed to have cured Agwo. He was put in normal clothes and he smiled at everyone who came to see him in the church. Two weeks later, I saw him in his tattered wrapper patrolling the streets. Some time later he was hit by a driver and the man wasn’t interested in taking care of him. Unfortunately for him, daddy was in the vicinity around the time of the accident. He saw the crowd and discovered it was about Agwo, he ensured that the man took care of him, although his wounds weren’t serious and he was anxious to go back to “work”. Remember the African proverb about a madman having kinsmen when you kill him? I remembered it when the incident occurred, why did my father have to be around when it happened? One of the mysteries of life I guess.
Today’s Kufre’s birthday and I’m ashamed to say I forgot until he reminded me. Happy birthday darling, may your light shine bright and illuminate the world