An Open Letter To Mr. Boogoo Man

Dear Not So Friendly Neighbourhood Boogoo Man,

I must admit it’s been some time since I last got frightened of you. Okay, that’s a white lie. I’m always afraid of you. This is the only instance I’m openly expressing it. The why’s and how’s of which I should probably explain better for those who have been under the disguised blessing of not knowing you like how I have.

The Boogoo Man, The Boogie Man, The Boogoo-boogoo Man are some of the names people identify you with. You’re not even aware of it yourself because you seem like those tribal African Adivasis who speak in monosyllables. You dress up like one, too. You walk around with a monkey on a leash and a small drum-like instrument in the other hand. On certain occasions you even bring a bull along with you. The drum which makes the queer “bogobogobogo” sound is always the constant. That’s what gave you your name, am I not right?

Mr. Boogoo Man, where do you live? What do you do for a living apart from being the living and breathing monster parents depend on to get their children to drink their milk and swallow their veggies. I’ve completed two decades around the sun and even now old-age still has not caught up with you. Do you have body-doubles, maybe? Sidekicks that continue your tradition or is it a family tradition on its own? So many questions, but no guts to find you and quench my curiosity. Didn’t I mention that I’m still afraid of you?

I don’t know what to make of it, why you wear rags and a loin cloth, why you keep playing that drum and stopping at random shops, why you sometimes have long hair that somehow adds to your Adivasi-type personality. Is the monkey trained, Mr Boogoo Man because I’ve sometimes seen crowds gather around you while you played that drum. Are you after all, just a beggar with a unique perspective?

Now that I’ve surpassed the phase where I couldn’t even bring myself to look at you from a window, you seem more crazy and mentally imbalanced than…scary. I think you’re someone who’s seen a lot of tragedy and suddenly snapped out of sanity. The way a switch is voluntary flipped. It’s entirely possible that you were carved in my mind by parents who knew that no fictional ghost or fake monster under my bed was going to scare me for a prolonged period. I needed something real to work with, something that existed in flesh-and-bone and had a mysterious air about it. Mr Boogoo Man, it may not even be your fault, you just seemed to fit the bill.

A lot of myths like The Sand Man spook kids in their toddler years. Why it does not work later on is because after a certain age you figure that fiction won’t ever be as real and horrifying as life. And if good things like Santa Claus aren’t true, neither are The Boogie Man or The Sand Man or any other such horror-inducing man. Why the distant sound of your drumming still terrifies me, Mr Boogoo Man is because whether or not you are going to abduct me if I don’t drink my milk, you are still a real person. And more than any fictional character, urban legend, mystery man myth, R.L. Stine goosebumps’ ghost it’s the humans, the homosapiens that we actually need to be afraid of.

Forever frightened,

Sloppy Etymology


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