The sun’s rays looked like rain, as it leaked through the mango canopy that sheltered me.
I looked on and a young boy walked by. He didn’t greet. I launched forward angrily.
“The gods will punish you”.
He was hurried away by a young woman. “Don’t look back” She said “He’s a mad man”. She looked back at me with disgust and threw her hands over her head. I hurled stones after them but they had disappeared too soon.
I returned to my seat. I was angry. I hated them all. They were hypocrites, them – the men. They had snakes knotted over their collars. That was their new identity. I had my tattered Ankara wrapped around my chest in the usual manner. I had retained my uniqueness. I rubbed my backside back-and-forth against the trunk of the tree with half-closed eyes. I enjoyed my tradition. I was loyal to myself and to my community and I was despised for it. No one dared to tell me, but I read it from the way they crossed to the opposite side of the road when I approached and how they took to their heels when I crept up behind them to say good morning. They all knew me, and even told their children about me but I was never a subject of discussion. I didn’t make any sense to them, as did the ambience of their native land; their culture; their hard-fought society.
I walked over to a vehicle and took a bow at my reflection. My dark brown face was smeared by black strokes – like our tigers while they lived. I smiled. My brown hair hung loosely over my eyes, begging to be combed. My lips were dark; pitch black. I stretched my hand, to touch my lips, my face on the mirror, to feel how tangible my other self was. I reached but before I could, I screamed. The young girl in the car was unaware that I had been standing beside her for a few minutes. So, she screamed, and I had yelled back. I stood dumbfounded as I watched her speed away. I shook my head in wonder. I did not understand anymore.
Life had changed entirely outside the walls of the hospital. How I got out remains a mystery, but I was glad to escape the needles of sedation. I disliked how the white-robed women peered into my face and reiterated that I would recover, when it was them that needed recovery.
Outside of there; here life had spun too fast. The dusty brown roads were gone, and had become charred – coal burnt. I searched for trees but only found heaps of papers. I asked the walls where the mud houses and thatched roofs had gone but they pointed to high buildings that touched the skies. And the river – although it remained, had a large crown of oil and plentiful dead fish afloat.
I could smoke several sticks of marijuana per day, but only one of these moving vehicles puffed more smoke in a day, than I could in my entire life span.
I picked my cane and returned to my concrete bed. These people have lost their identity. I smiled. “And with this stick, I would heal their madness”