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?
BACK TO CONTENTS