This Is What Madness Is.

Oluwatoyin Adisa

You wore a red gown. Not because it was Valentines Day and everyone else had a touch of the colour in their clothes, but because red was the colour of the only gown you had.

And he had specifically asked you to wear a gown.

When he sees you, he smiles, hugs you and tells you that red suits you, that it matches the white colour of your eyes, that it reminds him of Christmas, his favorite time of the year. Red and white. It is incredible that you, you who cannot sleep at night when the light goes off, who rarely talks to people, and buries her head in books, until people began to call you a snub and to stay away from you, could remind anyone of one of his favorite things.

You would be thinking about this, this comparison, while he drones on about the new contract he just got, about his house in the newly built estate in Abuja, where all the houses sell for a 100 million naira. For a minute, you see yourself in it, if you reached out, rubbed his arm and smiled at him now, you’d be giving him the green light. Maybe things will pick up from there, and you’d end up in the house in The Newly Built Abuja Estate.

The minute passes quickly.

No, your eyes do not light up with this man. He does not make you want to tell him all the things you lie awake at night, thinking about. Nkechi, your only friend thinks you are crazy. Every girl wants to ends up with a man like him. They all wish he’d look at them half the way he looks at you.

Perhaps, you are. It is only something like madness that would make you unable to forget him. You had met him only once, for the first time, that night, a year ago in Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom. You had gone to the mall to see Road to Yesterday, the new Genevieve Nnaji movie at the Cinema, gone alone because you loved her, because you thought she was amazing and if you had taken Nkechi along, you’d have had to endure her complaints about going to the movies to see a Nigerian film, she thought that all Nigerian movies are horrible. You did not want anyone to water the experience down for you because you had waited a long time for the release of this movie. When the movie ends, you walk out and sit outside at the bar beside the noisy water fountain. The splash-splash sound the water is making is incredibly noisy, but soon you lose yourself in it, sipping your chilled bottle of Sprite.

You do not notice him until he pulls a chair opposite you and sits. He says his name is Ade and he speaks with a deep baritone voice. A Youth Corp Member too. And you talk and talk about nothing and everything, all through the evening. When the bar closes, you wander out and walk the now empty streets, you cannot remember when exactly his hands found yours or when his lips covered your own ; slowly, deliberately. But it feels like, like, unlike anything you had felt before. 
You never see him again, never feel that kind of connection of anyone else.

You certainly do not feel it now, as you watch this man, seated across the table in this restaurant here in Abuja, ogle you. You pick up your purse, push your chair back and walk away.

This, right here, is what madness is.