Lunatic Magnet

by Delilah


Yeah, that would be me.

It all started when I was less than a year old and living in Africa. At a bustling outdoor market a woman came up to my mother and started cooing over me and then asked to hold me. My poor unsuspecting mother hands me over and the woman breaks in to a sprint with me in her arms. Responding to my mother’s screams, bystanders chased after her, got me back and informed my mother that this woman is a confirmed lunatic, well known in the area.

Fortunately I have no recollection of the above incident and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that crazy people scare me. But as with most things that scare me, I’m perversely fascinated at the same time. Lately however, I’ve begun to notice that for some odd reason these people are attracted to me, from the mildly eccentric to the stark raving mad.

Do they sense my fear? Or do they see an ally?

Once, I was walking towards my car when this wild eyed woman came tearing out of a hedge and started clawing at my hair. I stood there frozen with fear while she ranted away for all to hear that I have grown my hair long but I’m dressed in jeans. She went on to imply that I’m gender confused. “Atthatama Oya Kollekda? Kellekda?”

In another instance, I was waiting for my school van when this old man came up to me and started giving me a garbled lesson in mathematics. As I stood there speechless he called me ‘useless’ and struck me a few times with his imaginary cane and walked away with a look of disgust on his face. How did he figure out I was a dunce at the subject anyway?

I also had this neighbor, a woman in her late thirties who lost her mind after she was jilted by her fiancé for another girl. Every morning she would get dolled up and stand outside her gate simpering and acting coy if a guy passes by. But turning instantly hostile if a girl crossed her path. Many were the days that she yelled insults at me or came towards me under the guise of admiring something I wore, only to run away after yanking my hair or pushing me away.

Then there was one in the Bambalapitiya Junction area. A tall, dark woman (man?) with bloodshot eyes. Once I was walking past the junction with some friends, I saw her from a distance and was careful not look at her or make eye contact. She was seated on the pavement mumbling away but just as we passed her she scrambled up and came right at me. There were at least 5 people but she picked me! Thankfully a man from a nearby shop rushed out and fended her off.

That’s just some of it. Not counting the likes of a fellow student with serial killer fantasies who insisted that I read his ‘fiction’ and the batty old shop assistant at Wal-Mart who warned like the voice of doom that my ‘pretty face’ would rot if I didn’t embrace god right away.

So really, what’s up with me and the madness?