Whenever I write a post it comes from somewhere deep within. I always write my truth, and I try to do it as tastefully as I can and with some humour. Life is challenging enough for us to be too serious about it, humour takes the edge off. I had fun writing Fatty Sandra last week, and also had fun with you guys and your comments. I, too, read along with you after I published the story and became fascinated with the cast of characters. Though I was genuinely impressed with Killfuss (a mind like his and what he does is fascinating to me) my favourite character believe it or not was Bugsy. Yes, Bugsy. When I began to write Fatty Sandra and The Baby Duppy, as my fingers tapped the keys, I had no idea Bugsy would appear, I was surprised when he did. And then to find out after that he was an important part of why most of the family survived the Obeah sent their way, it made me look deeper into how many people we meet are underestimated, and it made me think about what is looked upon as the “dregs” of society and who some of them really are.
There was a time when my own family speculated about my mental health, and even I at one point. It was hush talk, but I knew about it, and I worried. This was during the time of my first initiation into spirituality, which took three years, and I don’t know if I will ever get over what I went through (read here). Time has lessened the pain of it, but whenever I think about those times, as I am doing now, something shifts my heart just a wee bit. Which shows improvement on my behalf, because times gone by, my key board would be drenched with tears.
My awakening was hard, very hard. It was a rough journey to becoming me, and while I do not regret it, I thank all that is great, divine and holy that my children did not have to pass through what I went through. I am the one who woke them up, gently, safely and lovingly. I guess that was the contract I made before coming into being, “wake me up fully when the time is right, so that my children will not have to pass through the fire as I” I guess I stated, and boy did they. And the experience caused my family to wonder about my sanity during those times.
I knew a mad person before, or what some people called a mad person. To me he was a friend. To be honest I thought of him only after Fatty Sandra was written, but I had long ago drafted a post on him. His name was Bagga. He was Jamaican living in America since he was a child. He was a quiet fellow, always clean and neatly dressed, respectful, never troublesome. As I grew, and become myself, I always at times reflected on things Bagga would say to me. Here is the post I had drafted on him so long ago.
Musings of Mad Man Bagga
Yesterday I spoke to my father and while we spoke he remembered Bagga, a fellow who lived on the street where I lived many years ago in America. Bagga was Jamaican like me, and he was the only child of his mother. His father had died when he was young. When my dad brought Bagga up in our conversation, his image came clear to me, and I remembered when we used to sit and talk. It made me sad that I did not know what a great treasure Bagga was, but now looking back Bagga taught me plenty…
How innocent are children? It is as we grow, the world and all that we encounter that removes our innocence and hardens some of us. The young have no judgement, they are trusting, this is why it is especially sad when an adult violates a child’s trust, teach them to hate or discriminate, or impose on them their (the adult) personality or beliefs.
Bagga was a tall man, and big in body, he was always clean and neatly dressed. He lived with his mother in the building across from ours, and he would get up early in the mornings and put out the garbage for the building which was the super’s (janitor for the building) job, but Bagga did it anyway. He would sweep the whole neighbourhood, and help old people carry their bags up and down the stairs, if they gave him money he would try to refuse it. Looking at Bagga, one would never know that he had a mental problem (I still do not believe he was mad, but his mother told my parents that he was diagnosed with something, I forgot), but something was not correct with him according to people, and it took me a long time to realize that something was indeed off, but was it madness?
Bagga was one who used to sit on our step with James my friend (he was a veteran and suffered from PTSD) and the other old men, read here, he never drank nor did he speak much when the others were around. At times I would meet him on the stoop before anyone came and he would greet me well by saying “Hey pretty Princess, how yuh doing?” I would answer him and ask about his health and we would sit quietly watching the children play in the streets.
But when Bagga would speak to me, our conversations would go a little like this:
“What yuh name again?” he’d ask, and I would tell him.
“Ok, let me tell you this Obara, look at the moon, and the sun do you know they are related?” (His topics were always spiritual, but I paid no attention to that fact back then).
I would shake my head. I didn’t know.
“You young fool,” he would say. “Not that you foolish Obara (he was careful of hurting people’s feeling), but your youth obstruct your mind from seeing the real in most things, for instance Obara, what colour shirt am I wearing?”
“Black,” I said. He wore a black polo shirt with Khaki coloured shorts, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles could see that, but Bagga told me that the shirt was red (the others hearing this laughed, but he ignored them).
“Obara the world want to fool you, but you have got to be wise, they tell you it is black, and so black is what you see when you see red and red is black when you see it.”
At the time this confused me and sounded ridiculous, but I somehow had interest in what he was saying and wanted him to explain.
He told me that there is a war going on, but nobody knows and the war is without guns. He said “Obara, they get us through our food, and when you reject what they are telling you or selling you they say that you are crazy. Let me teach you, have you ever heard from anyone that the sun and the moon were related?”
“No,” I told him. He explained that the sun and the moon were of the same parent which was the Earth, they were born. Warning bells began to ring in my head, as something would say to me, “cukoo, cukoo, cukoo” like the cukoo bird chiming from the clock. But another small part of me still wanted to listen, there might be truths to his reasoning, just jumbled up.
Bagga would tell me that all that was around us speaks to us everyday and that the sun had a voice. He called it Ra. He said the ancient Egyptians served Ra the sun and that Ra was the one who created all and everything, even us. At the time I was Christian, so I would interrupt his foolishness and tell him that God, the God of Abraham, created human beings. Bagga would laugh and say, “Obara yuh ah grow, God of which Abraham? nothing like that! Who was Abraham? Where him come from? Open up yuh mind and listen to me, mi telling you de truth.” Then after saying this he would get up and walk away from the stoop. I would call out to him, “Bagga, whey yuh going?” and he would reply “Obara, dem get you already, yuh mind done! What colour is my shirt?” I made sure to tell him red, and he’d look at me, smile and say, “Ok, maybe yuh soon ready,” and then he would leave.
I think at that age, I too was not “normal” because I saw Bagga as my friend and I looked forward to sitting with him on my step or taking a walk with him to the store. My mother ask me “Why yuh love par wid dah mad bwoy deh?” and the neighbourhood would tease me and call him my best friend.
“Hate is hate, love is love, two that don’t agree but I like hate more than love, because hate is real and cannot hide itself. Yes, hate show on the face and in the speech and in the actions, while love is mimicked by everyone. So no one is ever sure when love comes around, but hate loves to announce itself,” Bagga told me this often. To others it was the musings of a mad man, (to me also at the time) but later as I grew, I realized the wisdom within his words and reasoning.
There are may ways to love and to feel love and also to show it, but hate is just hate, an emotion that rivals love but is hard to disguise. Hate announces itself, and is very hard to disguise. I have seen this over and over again in my life. The teachings about the colour of his shirt, Bagga wanted to let me know that it is what I have been taught that I believe as true and real. But not because society calls a black shirt black, it means it is that colour, he wanted me to realize that my reality was mine to create, and to move away from what is considered the norm. I have done that.
Once he cooked for me and I turned it down, at first he seemed offended and ate the food in front of me, telling me afterwards “See? I did not poison it.” I had no fear of poisoning, but in my mind, this was something a mad man cooked, how could I eat it? I was silent with him while we sat on my step one day. He then got up to leave. He turned to me and said “Obara, yuh ready for the world now.” I looked at him quizzically and he smiled. He said “I tested you with the food, and you didn’t eat it, don’t ever eat from people, that’s how they got me,” and with that he crossed the street.
To this day, I remember what he told me, and it was told to me years after that I should be careful whom I eat from.
Lessons can come from anyone. Anywhere. In any form. It is never good to thumb your nose down at anyone or underestimate them. Bagga was a mad man according to whatever diagnosis was given and to those who were too asleep to understand his wisdom. I greatly admire and respect him as I can truly say now that he was a teacher to me.
And you might be surprised if you look back and realize some of yours.
Ìgbìyànjú la fií mọ akínkanjú /
Willingness to make the needed effort is how a brave person is known……Yoruba Proverbs!
[Give it a shot! Make effort to start; starting quite often is the impetus needed.]
All religion are valid as long as it teaches peace and love…. Obara Meji!
There are no disappointments in life, only lessons learned!….Obara Meji