One – How To Talk To Crazy People by Donna Kakonge – Constance


I know I’m in trouble when they won’t let me leave. It’s my third day in the hospital. I stood as tall as the waistband of the light blue slacks my mother wore around the house when I was last in the hospital.

I want to be home.

When I was nine and ten years old, I would run and jump on a blue steel jungle gym with my brother and sister and my friends on Sunday mornings, while my mother was inside the church with her friends. When I was even younger, I spent a year learning how to play the organ with a brown-haired male cherub who gently encouraged me when I made mistakes.

“Go, Donna. Go. I want you to be able to play the organ in the church choir,” my mother coaxed me before each lesson.

After I graduate from Carleton University, I work in Ottawa, move to Toronto, then move back to Ottawa—and no one has time for me, not even my boyfriend who is finishing up his final year of journalism school. When the loneliness and silence choke me like a movie director’s scarf, a friend gives me the phone number for a “tarot card counsellor.”  I  take  a  chance.  I  desperately  need  to  speak  to  someone.  I  call  the number.

“Hello?” I say.

“Hello,” a deep voice responds. “Is this Donna?” Fear almost makes me scream.

“How  did   you   know  my  name?”   “I  was   expecting  you   to            call.”        “This   is

Constance?” “Yes.”

She says nothing more.

“I was hoping you could help me.” I hesitate. “I mean, I was hoping I could come speak with you.”

“It costs three hundred dollars.” I shrug. I have the money. “Okay. Can I come tomorrow?”

“Be here at 7 p.m. I live at 43 Bronson Avenue.”

The next morning at eight, I’m in downtown Ottawa with a colleague, shooting Hi8 video footage for an African Canadian film to be presented at a video festival. I don’t look at my watch until that night. It is almost seven. “Should I go?” I ask myself.

I go to the washroom first and pee. As I wash my hands I look at my eyes in the mirror. The whites are bright red, just as they were in the morning. I grab some brown paper towels, dry my hands, and hail a taxi to take me to 43 Bronson Avenue.

It’s 7:05 p.m. when I arrive at Constance’s house. I’m late. I don’t even really know why I’m here. As I turn to leave, the door opens.

“Donna?” An Indian man stands before me. I nod. “Constance  is inside. Come.”

The walls are painted beige. A brown leather sofa sits at the far end of the room. Spectacular photographs of Dhaka, Bangladesh line one wall. On another, I recognize photos of Moscow, Beijing, Buenos Aires and New York from my favourite travel show on TV.

Constance is seated at a small, round Ikea table. She stares at a chair opposite her and I sit down. She moves her hand to the left and turns on a small Panasonic CD player. I recognize the sounds of wind chimes, soft techno-piano and “ah-ing” as New Age music. I feel a pinch calmer.

“Would you like some wine?” I nod. “White or red?”

“Red.” I almost shout. My core feels hollow.

Constance wears a black and orange sari. Her long hair falls like a dark blanket from the top of her petite frame to her waist. I look down and see her bare feet in beige leather sandals.

While Constance is in the kitchen pouring the wine, and the man watches Wheel of Fortune from the sofa, I reach out and touch the multi-coloured paisley tablecloth. Vibrating with light reflected from the candlesticks, the colours—white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, brown and purple—all dance and touch in a party on the tabletop.

Constance reappears. She sits quickly and places a glass of red wine in front of her. She places an identical glass of wine in front of me. She raises a set of bronze chimes I hadn’t noticed before and rings them.

Her eyes are pot black.

“I do not do this all of the time,” Constance declares. “I am actually a lawyer. I

just do this when people need help.”

I keep my eyes on the tablecloth. I wish I was out dancing.

She opens a wooden box and gathers a Rider-Waite deck of tarot cards from inside. She hands them to me. I take them.

“Think of your questions while you shuffle.”

I shuffle the cards. On one card, a woman, the High Priestess, looks like Constance. She fascinates me. On another card, a man, the King of Pentacles, reminds me of my dad. The nude  woman on  the  Nine of Pentacles reminds me of myself. So do the images on the Nine of Swords and the Three of Wands.

Constance deals out cards.

“I see that you are not happy with your job.” “You do?”

“Yes. You do not like it, but another job is coming soon. Someone you met over the summer is coming back into your life and a man will lead this woman to you.”

She deals out more cards.

“You are cheating on your boyfriend.” My brown skin flushes red. “No! I am not.”

“You are,” she insists. “I see a man that you are spending a lot of time with. Yes, perhaps no sex, but you love him.”

I can’t think of anything to say. His name is Jack. I work with him. He also works for the government.

“Do not tell your boyfriend,” she orders. “He will break up with you.”

“I was going to tell him,” I whisper. “We have always been honest with each other.”

“Honesty  is for children. You are not a child.”

My first thought is “stupidity,” but I continue to listen.

Constance tells me to imagine white light around me. She gives me the names of two books to read: Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, and Sanaya Roman’s Spiritual Growth. I already have a book by Sanaya Roman, Personal Power Through Awareness. I have never read it. A black female therapist I saw while I was in my second-year of university recommended it.

Leaning towards me from the other side of the small table, Constance tips the cards back into the wooden box.

“You should meditate,” she says. “Do you know how to meditate?”

I stare at the wooden box, feeling sad that the pretty pictures are gone. “What is that?”

“It is when you keep completely still and you do not think about anything.” She shifts her body. “You keep your feet flat on the floor, you close your eyes and you imagine that white light surrounds you. You imagine that white light is emanating from you and flowing out all around you. This is how you recreate yourself as an empty vessel so the positive forces from the higher world can enter you. This way you can channel.”


“Yes, channel. Everything I do is channelling,” she explains. “I receive all of my guidance from my highest level of guides.” Her voice becomes lighter and hits my ears like a bubble—then pops.

“Your highest level guides will direct you in everything that you do.” “Is this like prayer?”

Constance looks grim. “I do not believe in one God. I believe in the Universe. I believe that everything happens through the almighty of the Universe and we are all directed through our highest level of guides—if we hold clear energy. You need to lighten your energy.”

Constance tells me that I too can learn to channel, and become a psychic, so that

I can answer my own questions.

I buy many books after the first two. I begin to meditate every day and become a vegetarian like Constance. I want to be just like her. Constance is the happiest person I know.