The mad man of Ngong market

There is a man who sits at Ngong market. He sits on the dark side of the tall tree just next to the Barclays ATM machine. The market is on the opposite side of the tree and the road to Nairobi lies in between.  And the matatus park on the side of the road where the tree is planted.

Every night when I go home, just as the matatu to Kiserian is getting filled up with people, I hear him shout. He shouts every night without fail. Whether it rains or not. During the cold season and the hot days. He never shouts during the day though.

Sometimes there are many people walking and driving about and I hear his shouts mingle with their voices and hooting cars. Some nights, there are less people about and I really hear his shouts. They mingle with the dark sky and the singing crickets. On those days his shouts leave an echo in my heart.

The first time I heard him, I thought, “Oh God! Not another drunkard.”

But, I heard him the following night and for many nights after that. For too many nights he shouted.  And so I started listening to him. What was he trying to say? You see he shouts for hours on end. With so much energy. What gives him the strength to go on?

Once, I tried to look for him. After all, I figured I can just walk to the dark side of the tree. A group of drunk women merrily passed by. One of them shouted back at the man and they fell into giggles. When they walked away, I found myself rooted to the ground where I stood. His shout had become louder. The women must have gotten him excited.

“Perhaps tomorrow I will see who he is.” I never tried again.

Those shouts sound like gibberish to me when I listen, but long after the matatu drops me at my stage and I trek up the hill towards the blinking lights, I hear the echo he left in heart come to my ears as if I was still with him.

“He is just a mad man! I wonder why you bother yourself”, my brother keeps telling me.

I can’t stop wondering why he started shouting in the first place. Is it somebody, is it circumstances or is it biology gone wrong? It is also intriguing that the strength of his voice never fails. Who feeds the mad man of the market?

I read somewhere, people go mad because they need to create a world where they are loved and happy. Is our man at the market happy then? And is he trying to share his joy?


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