A Short Story by Wizard
You know the saying ‘every village has a madman?’ Well, my village has five.
One is called Kamau Mtembeaji who, trust me, has been roaming these streets way longer than we’ve been downing shots of Johnny Walker. He is always walking with an old man’s stick to a destination known only to him. As suggested by his roaming soul, he is not your paper picking pauper; he is a learned Tom. This one even takes part in political discussions and has “opinions.” We still call him mad though.
There’s another fellow, whose name I have zero idea on but he roams here. He speaks to no one, collects papers and plastics into one giant heap on his back – though there’s a thin chance he might actually be a hunchback. He has a certain swagger to him that brings back fond memories of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Despite his isolation from the community and his flock at large, he managed to get into an altercation once. With a fellow madman who surprisingly had no problem giving him a proper Stinkmeaner lashing. And in front of the whole town. It’s crazy whenever you see the two crossing paths or whenever one eyes the other. The hunchback quickly crosses the road(s) while the other cracks into a huge psychopath laughter. Makes me feel like I’m in my high school days, chancing upon two lads with pubescent differences.
Kinyanjui is the laughing bully and madman. He is actually a bully; alongside his other nasty habits that include nudism. In many ways, you could say he’s the properly cracked nut. Kinyanjui terrorizes anything that isn’t an adult male; kids, women, animals, chickens… he always find a reason to chase after each. Sometimes with a stick or anything that can be a handy whip. He is also the most self obsessed of them all. In my wanderings, I often imagine this to be him letting loose his natural human self interest. He is stupefied by mirrors like a deer with headlights; strips in front of isolated mirrored buildings to check himself out and God knows whatever he does when he disappears into dark alleys and strips. Going as far as to leave the clothes in a twist and returning to get them after a long while. Still nude. His nudism hasn’t been taken lightly at all by the villagers either. There is an oft undeclared and unwritten rule to every male adult of the town to quickly intervene with a whiplash whenever he’s seen trying to take his clothes off. This extends to his very stylish blazer jacket. Might be his reason for the fear of adult males.
Interestingly enough, he bathes after a while and even pays for his own barber appointment or kindly asks the barbers to shave him. Interesting human being that one. And a scary bastard too. I’ve seen him brandishing his catfish dick in-front of a woman one time. Scary nonsense that. But again, in every village…
I don’t know the name of the crazy lady that walks the streets. She dresses nice, and likes samosas. She seems to be moneyed on the low low but I (nor you) wouldn’t know. When her insanity was pointed out, I couldn’t find the whys to it. She walked okay, had nicely done and combed hair, dressed in actually clean(er than many) clothes and minded her own business eating samosas while dodging cars and motorbikes. I ain’t one to judge though, sanity is a class set by the society one inhibits.
No one knows whom the forth and well informed mad human is. He will suddenly walk into town shouting stuff out and be seen later in the evening walking silently, bag in hand, one of those properly kept ones too, quiet and normal like the rest of us. He one time came shouting and preaching about a fire in a neighbouring town, which we came to see on TV later on in the evening. We also once witnessed a large movement of armed and anti riot officers through the town but none could explain it. Until he passed. In the evening this time and delivered to us the news. Sorta like it was and is in old Victorian classics. Maybe he was a court messenger in that age, we wouldn’t know, is it? Or a character in a Shakespeare book. I read a book once, Inkspell, where characters could come to life, and real life human beings disappear into books. And no story is just a story.
The fifth madman is perhaps the most interesting of them. Karuga. He is short as the Hunchback fella, well read, who can sit down and read eulogies for you (Kamau Mtembeaji can be seen in front of newspaper stands taking the news in) of burials he’s attended. That’s his thing; burials. People that he talks to and updates on his funeral adventures, are always talking on the burials he’s attended, and oft makes one wonder who’s madder. He attended Kijana Wamalwa’s, Saitoti’s, some other rich guy who’d died, the Nyeri Governor’s burial and a host of others. He has these eulogies right in his breast pockets, ready to whip out as proof of his latest burial attendance; and if the eulogies are legitimate mementos of burials he’s been at, we could say, he might be the ghost of all our lives past. His plot has always been simple, whenever an important figure passes away, and there’s gonna be a public burial, he hitches a ride, or pays for matatus sometimes, and attends these. Distance is not a reason for him to stay away. He’s gone for burials hundreds of kilometers away from home and still found his way back with stories to share with each and every willing ear.
*(ghost of our past lives? Might he have in his past lives encountered these prominent figures when they were at one point human like the rest of us? And in so attending their burials, he is only paying respect to old comrades that have fallen).
When he has been spotted in town, a mill of curious listeners can be seen around him, with him given a chair to sit on, telling of his funeral exploits, and with a dead man’s eulogy in hand.
He seems in that moment, what might have been the first African reporting to fellow village-men deep in an Ogiek’ settlement on what the railway line looked like in the early 1900s. In that moment, his madness is forgotten and he is transformed to Hermes.
I saw him earlier today. He’d freshly come in his million jackets worn in peculiar fashion and started seeking his usual sane company with a tongue fiery from tales of Mzee Moi’s death. People had already speculated that his disappearance from the town barazas and yard had been to attend festivities that would be followed by a much popularized guard of honour, among other military grandeur pompousities. They were expecting him to come. Yet, none showed up when he did show up. The scorching sun perhaps went into play. No one wanted to hear the stories of a Cruel President we all loved to hate. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the recent fear of a corona virus victim in a Chinese workstation within Nakuru County had something to do with it. No one wanted to be near a much travelled man who could have caught a Chinese thing as he spent a night in between pig sties dressed by the moon that blankets a host of other Chinese evils along with it’s insanity.
Sadly, none of these madmen is a hatter!
© Mark ‘Wizard’ Wandera