I remember finding in Lake Malawi National Park a slender branch of blond mahogany, to which I attached various talismans after stripping off the bark, converting it into a walking stick I carried until the end of our African travels. A “magic” walking stick I was calling it by the time we reached Zanzibar, having concocted a sort of fable I would recite to folks expressing interest.
    “If someone does harm," I would proclaim, "to this stick's owner—namely me—the stick will follow that person, thusly, like a shadow,” which I would then demonstrate, “waiting for him or her to fall asleep, whereupon—WHACK!—the stick will strike, then fly back to me!” So saying, I would toss the stick with my right hand and catch it with my left. Blacks hearing this story always seemed to react as if they believed. At the time, because I considered superstition and religion kissing-cousins, I concluded Blacks had a deeper capacity for faith. Or maybe I simply presumed that they were more gullible. In either case, I was wrong to link magic with spirituality; they are very separate things. Spirituality, as Yayuk pointed out during one of her more lucid lectures, is like love; it defies rationality. It even dawns on intellects undeserving... if a bit too late... now that no one is around to give a tinker's damn... not a solitary soul... unless you count mine—mortifying as it is to admit I possess one. How could I have thought otherwise?
    Oh, Yayuk, "I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee," too. Please, I humbly beg you, please, please forgive me?


Seventy-two hours...