The last time I can remember praying with a similar degree of desperation was twenty-four years ago in the town of Karonga, forty-five kilometers from the Malawi-Tanzania border. Yayuk and I arrived there tired and cranky after a sixteen-kilometer hike plus two-hour bus ride from the Livingstone Escarpment, atop which we had spent an amicable Christmas. Her period had started, if I recall correctly—typically a day that meant drastic mood swings—which I, in my mid-life self-centeredness, saw fit to disregard.
    Ouch! The sting of that memory outstrips even my current troop of tortures (ongoing, sad to say); I nearly killed her. When I stop to think about the irony of our having survived muggers, cutpurses, ramshackle vehicles driven at break-neck speeds, wild animals, infectious diseases, and countless other hazards of the African experience, only to fall prey to ourselves, I have to shake my head. External threats seem tame when compared to internal savagery.
    Anyway, whomever started the argument—yours truly, no doubt—it ended with a shove that flattened Ms. Kertanegara on our room's concrete floor, the impact raising a lump on her skull that mimicked a goose egg... an ENORMOUS goose egg... afflicting him who caused it with mortified alarm.
    “Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name... ”


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