Many are crazy but few are roaming. This statement used to be very distant to me. I thought all mentally disturbed people were either in a hospital somewhere or left on their own to roam the streets. The many ‘crazy’ people, I thought for sure, were just normal people who, one time or the other, did some stuff that people saw as crazy. It was probably the occasional minute madness and it went as soon as it came. Anyway, a few days ago, my theory was knocked out the park like a homerun. I discovered that crazy people who seemed normal from afar did exist. They could work, dress, act and even, talk like sane people but if you stayed with them for a while longer, you could see the signs of crazy visibly manifesting themselves.
First off, crazy isn’t the politically correct term to described them these days, it is ‘mentally-challenged’ but in my situation, I could confidently say that this person was a crazy person. Mentally-challenged people are generally those who have had something mess their psyche up and rendered them mentally incapable to some extent. For some, it is a simple matter of constant care and guidance until they are nursed back to full health and for some others, they have to be sent to mental homes where therapy and drugs have to be administered before they can be calm. In certain uncivilised parts of the world, mentally ill people are discarded by their families and left to roam the streets. They are a nuisance and usually cause a lot of trouble to the sane people moving on the streets too. In civilised societies, mental homes are available to cater for those who have mental problems. They provide mental health care for those who are in need of them. There are also asylums for those who are out of control and cannot be treated any further.
Anyway, so the thing is I was unfortunately privileged to sit beside a crazy person for quite a while and the experience is not one I would forget in a hurry. First off, I had had a tough day that day and everything was a blur to me. The only form of consolation I had was I was going back to a place where I could comfortably rest my body and sleep in peace. Now, I had gotten on a bus headed to my house and sat at the back, waiting for it to get fully loaded. I enjoy sitting at the back, preferably beside the window as I got a good view of everything and was rarely involved in any drama going on in the bus. I was watching the bus-stop through the window. It had just rained and everywhere was a mess and yet people where still trudging on and moving about. Rush hour is what it’s called as it was the time of the day when work had closed and everybody was hurrying to their various houses. I finally lost track of time and was jolted back to consciousness when a lady sat down beside me. She said hi and I smiled back and say hi. She seemed friendly but, being the person I am, I knew that was the end; I find it really hard to talk to strangers especially on buses anyway. She talked to the lady in front of her who had come in at about the same time as her and the lady smiled and said something to her. I am not one to start listening to other people’s conversation so I barely paid attention to what was said. The first weird sign was when a lady, eating groundnuts, came and sat at the back with us. This lady beside me greeted her also and proceeded to ask her for some groundnuts. This was weird; Nigerians aren’t so free like that. Nobody would that anyway with this Ebola outbreak. You watched who you touched and what you ate. The other lady, visibly surprised, proceeded to give some to her and she muttered some stuff in a weird language and said “Thank you”. At this point, I concluded they were saleswomen around and knew each other from some shop. After a while of her trying to make conversation with the lady in front of her and the one beside her and me, sticking to my business and looking outside the window, the bus finally filled up, a guy had sat at her other side and a lady was now in my front, and our transport fares were collected. Everybody paid up, including her (looking in retrospect now, I am fully astonished that she paid the correct fare) and the bus began to move. The weirdness of the evening was about to begin.
The first sign was when she started complaining to herself out loud about flies disturbing her and started rummaging through her nylon bag. There were clearly no flies disturbing at the back and I wondered what her problem was. Then, she started dropping stuff from her bag to the floor of the bus. I became uncomfortable and tried to peek at her to see what she was dropping but lo and behold, her hands were empty. I watched put her hands in her bag, grab empty air, and drop it to the ground. I became quite worried. I shifted my legs away from where she was dropping ‘stuff’ and glued myself close to my side of the bus. The next weirdness was when she tapped the lady in front of me and started talking to her in a strange language. The lady looked lost as she could barely understand what miss crazy was saying. She ignored her and just went back to her phone but this crazy lady did not give up. She continued talking to her and the other lady beside her and they just ignored her and paid no attention to what she was saying. I was confused. “Did she know them from somewhere?” “Why did they act like she was invisible and ignore her like that?” Miss crazy then proceeded to tell no one in particular that they were neighbours and that the two ladies directly in front of us were related in a way. Immediately, I saw them as douchebags that refused to relate with their neighbour because she was different. They probably understood what she was saying but just ignored her anyway. As time went on though, I threw that theory out the window and accepted that I was sitting beside crazy person. She kept on talking to herself and I began to wonder if she had some kind of handsfree device and was talking to someone on the phone. After carefully observing, I concluded that she was talking to her imaginary friends because there was no sign of a handsfree device on her. She kept on talking in her strange language and making gestures. At some point, she would giggle and some other times, she would speak in English. I was now getting scared. I had never been so close to this kind of person before. I wondered if there was a protocol in dealing with people like this.
We had travelled very far and were now getting closer to the end of the journey but it seemed like that would take forever. She was still taking gibberish and I was still concerned. I lost it when a guy in a power bike was riding close to our bus and she proceeded to stick her hand outside the window, across my face and began telling him off. She started laughed and said he was her neighbour too. At this point, I was terrified. “How did she know who he was?” “How could she see his face through his helmet?” At this point I knew one thing, at that moment, everybody in that bus was her neighbour. But I was more worried that she had breached my space. She had passed through my comfort zone and I no longer felt safe. I couldn’t wait for people to start getting off the bus. I started studying the faces of the people around. It was obvious they knew something was wrong. They stole glances at the back from time to time and shook their heads. I noticed that the guy on the other side of her was too still. He was as still as a statue from Ekpoma. He didn’t even move his head; he just kept staring into the air and my mind could only wonder what he was thinking. Soon enough, people started getting off the bus. The lady in front of me was the first. The bus had not fully stopped at her bus-stop before she gladly hopped off. As Miss Crazy was telling her goodbye, she didn’t even bother to look back. She just kept on walking away as fast as she could. She was distancing herself from this weirdness as much as possible. Miss Crazy kept on talking and telling everyone that got off the bus goodbye. As soon as a space opened up in front, I quickly moved there and hoped that I had not somehow contacted crazy. I cursed my luck for having me end up with a crazy person that day. I had lots of prospects ahead; I wasn’t going to catch crazy now. NEVER!!! It was a huge sigh of relief when she finally got to her stop. If not for the fact that we were polite, I was so sure we would all have clapped as she left the bus. We were put through an ordeal and could not be more grateful to God that there were bus-stops even crazy people could get off to. The guy beside her finally spoke for the first time. He tapped me and said, “Bros, truly many are crazy but few are roaming”