They abound in our boulevards, in corners strategic and delicate, dressed in tattered clothes that stink. You know them- those reputed for the dance of humour, with their tangled and unkempt hair- a certification of years of religious
abstinence from bath. They sing too unsolicited songs savoured only by their uncoordinated dance steps and stridency of beats, emanating only from broken plastics, rusty iron tools and then to be audible, a stick as a microphone for the sake of audience. But there is something you cannot take away from them – their seeming contentment which mocks our very hustle – we, their brothers and sisters on the other side. You can deny that, but are we not mad too?
Our brand of madness is as petty as the basis of it. Reasons not genuine anger us and we throw caution into the air- vowing never to talk to our own brother for his little mistake that affects us. Out of fury, we swear to the high heavens that it is over in our relationships, where we should actually take a pause to understand. We get mad and then decide to terminate the employment of our employee. When our own madness surfaces, it is not uncommon for us to withdraw our favour and leave the other side at the mercy of life’s spiky hands.
We do not think of what will become of those at the receiving end. We get mad everyday- some go unnoticed, and we pretend not to be in many instances- concealing our fury and sinister motive in laughter and pregnant words, ‘it is okay’, ‘I am all right’ etc., etc. But here we are, making a mockery of people who would not hide the fact that they are mad at life as a whole. They withdraw no favour with their brand of madness and they plot no retaliation against anyone while in that state. They didn’t care about the expensive cloths like us; they know when life clothes you. It will take it one day. They are deep to realize that when life raises you today, you may be at the bottom of the ladder tomorrow.
Within the four walls of your room, can you remember the number of plates you’ve broken out of anger? The cloths you’ve torn due to fury? What about the souls and emotions you’ve ripped by words because you are mad? The many wrong signals sent by your reactions to the unintended wrong actions of others? But that is the secondary mad men we are- we come all out after the hidden show of shame and display of destructive madness looking sane- dazzling with smile and glowing in expensive outfits. Do not be misguided, your outfit does not make you any better than those dancers of humour in rags. Madness is a thing of the mind and sleeping in the garage does not make anyone a car. That you have not been admitted for rehabilitation or found wandering unclad does not make you less of a dancer in the choir of humour.
In their madness, they’ve entertained people. How many people have derived happiness, even from your ‘civil’ madness? Through their dances of humour, they make a living. Who has rewarded you for your hate speeches those times anger called? Like them, we are all mad, but ours has destroyed the world more than it met it, while their input in lunacy would rather be to watch than complicate the world. Tomorrow, when you see that neighbour pass by and you whisper something spiteful about her to your friend… that is madness.
When you raise your voice in an argument instead of your points, it is lunacy at play. And when you see a dancer of humour in his tattered cloth on the boulevard today and you laugh, think about the basis of your laughter- it sure won’t worth it, and only then will you realize that you are only different in outlook.
Here, they are mad just like us. Perhaps on a larger scale. While ours is for a part of the whole, theirs stand for the whole- life. They are mad at it for the many evil it harbours, for the orphans that are denied what it takes to compete in it, for the good people left to sleep like the evil men, for our hypocrisy and mediocrity.
They have decided to ignore connection with life and its characteristic chase- they are angry with life, they are mad with it, and like modest people do when they are pissed at someone or a circumstance, they do not shout or cause chaos- they just let the person be till the heat of passion gets cool.
That is what they do- the mad ones are pissed with life and they need a break through a dance of humour, but next time, just before you laugh at that dance, ask yourself ‘if life deals me the same blow like them, won’t I be as mad as this?
David Oluwasegun Ogundipe is a Nigerian writer.