In Ignorant Bliss

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All Towns Do Have Them

The matchless tapestry of colors that Hometown presents to an inquiring mind could never have been comparable to the rainbow without its unique caste of the mentally deranged. From each of its many quarters came a crop of them, each manifesting its own differing character of trade. As much as they defaced the blessed land's greatness somehow, none could wish them away with a wave of the hand.

Of all of them, only Anosike defied alignment to any of the clans in the land. The peculiar mode of his sickness has him claiming to hail from any place that festivities were on going at any given time. He has been at it for so long that none could put a foot down on where he claimed he was from first. He hated communal fests that were celebrated in unison throughout the town; describing them as a waste of scarce resources. His reasoning was so sound at times like this that most of the time he is taken as bestriding the tenuous boundary between sanity and insanity.

This does not apply where Borokoto is concerned, him being truly and thoroughly bunkers from the moment he dropped from his mother’s womb. Now a full-blown-out mad man, he is mostly operational at burials. He would lay in wait for the time the dead was due for interment and make his entree:

“Wake up now,” he would scream as the coffin was being lowered. “What are you doing in there as stiff as a log? Thought you were man enough to put up a last stand?”

When this particular antic of his was just gaining ground, people, from trying to stop him to no avail, resolved to let him act out the small part which would normally fizzle out as soon as the grave is being filled up with sand. He would then be seen sauntering away, muttering that the earth had arrested the beleaguered man for life under his breath.

The self appointed leader of female madness in the town was Mgbafor the Beautiful. True to her sobriquet, she compared in prepossession to any damsel the land has ever seen. No matter the depth of her state, she still maintained her shapes and curves to stunning perfection. This, in turn was aided by her steady recourse to sanity each time some bad eggs in the land surreptitiously put her in the family way. She would become her old self again – as if she was never mad – only to relapse once more after each phase of parturition.

Again she would resume her self-given job of ensuring that the market square was kept sparklingly clean. She would personally pick up all the refuse that littered the space after each session, storing them in a spot by the market that has turned her abode over time. Otherwise she brooked nobody’s troubles, but for her occasional exposure of her well-developed breasts and bum at passersby in suggestive taunts. The later mostly ignored her with a sympathetic shake of their heads at the handiwork of the devil. Those who cared only returned under the cover of darkness to wreck unnecessary havoc.

By far the most enigmatic of them all was Mbakwe the Taciturn. No one could put a title to his own kind of lunacy. He just walked the length and breadth of the town in response to an unheard command. At night he retired to his hut in their family house which he still maintained in celibacy. Now and then, as he walked on by, he would be overheard exchanging words with invisible companions; even laughing out loud at the jokes he apparently shared with much relish with them.

Though well into his eighty's now, nobody in the town forgets who it was that saved the town from the first and only attack it was to have suffered following its amalgamation. Unknown to all, he had sneaked out of his hut at night and made his way to their eastern border where Hometown was bordered by a miniature caricature of a town ever envious of her evolving union. Unknown to all, these warmongers had lain in wait to attack Hometown at the cusp of darkness.

As they massed by the border, waiting for their commander’s bugle to advance, they all turned to see an unarmed man walking majestically towards the well-hidden spot. It was beyond their comprehension. They crouched lower, making sure no mortal could sight them from his distance; yet he kept coming in their general direction, ever surefooted. All scared out of their wits, they waited as if for the first to elope.

As Mbakwe got within ten footsteps of their hideout, they fled for their lives at the heels of a newly married in their midst who suddenly saw himself being smitten to instant death if this resolute man without arms as much as stepped one more foot forward. From a safer distance they variously held council and concluded that the advancing figure was the anthropomorphic manifestation of the strong juju the fledgling union of towns had cooked with the heads of ten of their compatriots for which they had planned the attack. The wisest from amongst them subsequently advised that rather than lose more heads they had better let all that bites in the night to pass for that of a mosquito.

Given Mbakwe’s mystical ties, the title for the king of the lunatics in the land rested squarely on the balding head of Omenikoro the Giant. Otherwise an ebullient young man in the land before his particular affliction, he exhibited the kind overzealous energy that the town only missed when they had troubles with outsiders. All of this was before his surreptitious fishing mission to the Great River where the gods had him abandoning his implements by the riverside and return a quarter of a person. Despite all the best efforts to cure him, he remains till date a huge splurge of paint on the tapestry of Hometown’s mentally unstable population.

There was also Atakozu the singing minstrel. He is mostly active when social functions had petered out to a few diehards, who stay behind to mop up the dregs of the wine pots. He would keep them entertained with songs from his endless repertoire to which they chorused with enthusiasm. They however kept to his unwritten code of conduct that entailed the chorus never missing their line in a complex call and response sequence that featured in most of the songs.

Of course none will forget Agalacha the Pretty. Against all advice she had married a medicine man from a distant land who had ferried her back to his place in same shooting star that had brought him to these shores. Unknown to her, the only punishment there was for adultery in the land was the culprit turning raven mad after the act. She was hardly away for six months when a shooting star returned her one early morning in the altogether.

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