Temitope Shittu-Alamu: My closest contact with a ‘mad’ woman

by Temitope Shittu-Alamu

Like a typical Nigerian, I also imagined that she had been “jazzed” from the village, by a second wife maybe.

In the past few days, I have been looking at my shoes and really pitying them. Like seriously, Harmattan hasn’t even started full force but the poor shoes are beginning to see and experience signs of the end times. The dust gathering is crazy and so obviously I am not wearing my fancy shoes anymore for the rest of the year. These flat black pumps would have to bare the brunt. So anyway I was staring down and having a, you know, somber moment for the shoes as I was walking home yesterday, when suddenly a stone rolls to the tip of the already dusty shoe. Instinctively as I tossed the stone back to “sender” and simultaneously raised my head, I heard another tiny sound… Only then did I realize that I was already nearly colliding with a giant metalic waste bin by the side of the road. What was I thinking? How did I get here?

Now I wasn’t only taken aback by the fact that I was standing right before a bin. More of the shock came from seeing by the bin, a heavily ragged woman looking for food or whatever from it. Perhaps she was mad, perhaps she had children; maybe they lived under a bridge. In 5 hurried seconds I had imagined a life for this woman who before now I had never met.

I walked past silently hoping this “mad woman” wasn’t following me, I kept thinking in my head what life must be for her. I imagined she had half a dozen children under the nearest bridge. Like a typical Nigerian, I also imagined that she had been “jazzed” from the village, by a second wife maybe.

As I near the corner leading up to the shop of the mallam where I buy recharge cards from, I take a quick glance back, and oh my! Lady madness is walking towards me. My first thought is to sit by the mallam and just let this mad woman pass so we can avoid stories that touch the heart. The more I think of what to do the closer she gets to me.

She’s almost by me now, and I see her holding up a little flat card walking towards me with deep concern in her eyes. I am nearly about to pass out as I realize what she’s holding is very familiar…

Rewind to that moment I heard a tiny sound by the bin… My ID card had fallen off its hook, and all the while I was imagining lady madness had been jazzed, she had left her food searching in the bin to bring it to me. What manner of niceness? She hands it over, I collect with trembling hands and she starts to head back.

Somewhere in her mind she must have known my ID was important to me. On the flip side I didn’t think she or her imagined 6 kids were that important. All I did was to analyze her life. No solution to the analysis made.

What gave me the audacity to call her mad? Because she was ruggedly dressed?  Where do we get off deciding people’s lives from our high horses and thinking that owning shoes or clothes make us better than them. It is ridiculous.

Today lady madness isn’t by the bin leading to my house, and my ID is safely on my neck. My shoes have gathered dust as usual, but are in very perfect condition. I stop to buy recharge card from the mallam, and my last thought as I near my house is to reach out to as many lady madness’ as I possibly can.

This Christmas and all other times is a good time to.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (4)

  1. Absoutely! Mind-stirring,and a way to start off the festive season. Thumbs up to you,Tope!

  2. The morality in the story is that "one should never write anyone off" the mark. Moreso, appearance doesn't always give adequate infomation about people. 'Perception is by far contrast to reality'

    Another thought provoking write up from STAR

  3. Amazing piece, Tope. Simply amazing and thought-provoking.

  4. One word: "wow!"

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail