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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gone for Good.

We meet once again to commemorate the misery that happens to charming and less charming people, villainous fiends and friends, unofficial foes and sworn enemies alike. And whose wretchedness shall we click our glasses and shake a leg to? None other than Onyii. You remember Onyii-of course-no one forgets such a character with the longest name. If Cyrano bragged of his long nose, which preceded him by a mile, then Onyii must boast of an unforgettable tombstone name- Ecclesiasticus Lamentations Onyango Onyonga. You may remember too that he was magic friendly.

We hunted for a job together but because he knew, some men well versed in magic and dark arts from the other underworld; he landed on the job while I did a crash-landing and missed the boat by a river. Definitely, you can’t remember that he had always been like this since our college days- because I never mentioned that, of course. When we were signing up for courses in college, he signed up for Performing Arts or was it Performance Arts class thinking that it was related to African Dark Arts-Magicry. But opted out when he realized it was not the case.

That was a little digression in order to give you some background gossip relating Onyii-he who collected all the ancestors’ names. For a quick reminder, you may recall that he was supposed to catch some two frogs in the act. Finally, he caught them- pants down-or how would we call it when you catch them in the act? It would have been much easier were they human frogs. Because for humans, unlike their distant species, the terrific act is enacted at every inconvenient moment and for every puny inexcusable reason. I think because, as someone pointed out, it’s the only pleasure we can have without laughing. But that’s another matter altogether.

Well, six months ago, there were enough causes to celebrate after such a housefly-caught-in-camera-having-sex conquest and Onyii the drunk is true to his inebriated words because he sings ‘I’m not shober because I have taken Guinnessh!’ But, I think there must have been a gala between him and his girl Achiel since I never saw drinks coming my way after he landed on that coveted job. He forgot all about us. He forgot about Sam Bway and his suit-for-hire business. How fast we forget! For Sam, it was justified since the suit baron always wished him bad luck whenever he was hunting for a job, as that would deprive Sam Bway of a valuable client.

But for me? Well, I had no clue. Because being long time friends, there was no explanation. Today though I have to inform you that there was indeed a very illogical explanation because as I report live to you, Onyii came by my aunt’s house. No. drove by. Actually driven. Can you believe it? Just after six months on the job, and my good friend is being driven in a very posh car-like those we see the Oscar Nominees coming out of during their weddings. But I’ll be lying half a billion Zimbabwe dollars worth if I tell you that he had finally come to take me out. Nope. He hadn’t. He was on a spoiling our celebration mission. That is the aftermath of a mission gone awry.

And for the first time since her retirement a decade ago, my usually stone face aunt confused the visit and accorded him a very rare warm welcoming smile. Remember my Aunt Jerusa? Actually Jerusa is the short form for Jerusalem. Her mouth is always wet with Jerusalem protestations. That tumultuous city in the Middle East is always in her mouth as if she did nothing but chew it. I complain about this Jerusa because every other day I have to do all these women stuff in the house, while she is clapping hands and rolling eyes and shaking hips at some hairy-chested prophet in white robes and shower cap.

Of course, I never gossip about my aunt without getting agitated and gnashing my teeth at the same time. Fancy I always find unhelpful adjectives handy to express her because for me, she represents evil-always threatening to throw me out of her house as she calls me a domestic terrorist-or thug or something or the other. She is so generous with leaflets drooping with the saving blood of the Lamb and yet has no single drop of charity in her own anaemic blood. The only reason I consider myself the ‘good guy’ and she, the antagonist in the story of my life is because, as someone put it kindly, until the hunted wrote the version of their story, we will always hear the winning side of the hunter.

Ah! That was another digression. I promise no more digressions -except that, of course, I don’t blame her. As a former successful hangs-woman, retired after many successful hangings, it had been natural in her profession to have unorthodox sense of humour; gallows humours-like her favourite-the one where a man she was about to dispatch to the world next requested to be hung by the waist as he had a sore throat. Hahaha. Wasn’t that in bad taste? And if you laughed too, you shared in her nihilism. I am still working on another story of how she presented a gift of rope during a farewell party of a retiring judge.

That very morning before Onyii came by; she had just told me to find my way back into my mother’s womb-although my mother was her younger sister. That I chose the wrong womb-no wonder I wasn’t so lucky getting a decent job after all these years of attending so many unfruitful interviews. So when she saw Onyii being driven, she was like justifying herself of her theory-that I had actually chosen the wrong womb. And that’s why she was smiling the Mona Lisa double edged smile as soon as he saw Onyii.

But surp-PRISE…! Dear aunt…if you are reading this… because Richard Ntiru compared you to a dog that barked at his master’s cough and mistook a thief for visitor. And you too, dear reader, be afraid because Onyii was not coming to throw a big homecoming. He was spoiling his celebrations because of what he had encountered in the past forty-eight hours.

For as soon as he shook off my aunt’s unusual politeness, he fell into a monsoon of tears. The pain, which was written on his face, would have fallen the stoutest soldier, but he wasn’t ready to stumble yet. The warrior in him wore a costume of darkness as a declaration of depression. So miserable that he forgot good old manners by scratching openly his loins or whatever his fingers were busy doing inside his pockets.

‘I don’t understand this lamentation.’ I broke the ice. ‘What is the matter pal? Whatever it is, it could have been worse…you know…’ I encouraged him to proceed waving my fingers.

But he needed no prodding. With his constant pocketing increasing considerably and amid tearful outbursts, he vomited all the tribulations. ‘My friend Chumoto, I’m kwisha kabisa kabisa! I am undone for good. I am completely finished. It’s all over for me!’ Now I notice again his keeping of hands inside the pockets and that made me curious because in less than five minutes since his arrival, he had made more than twenty urgent pocketing.

‘You mean you lost your job or something?’ I ask, hiding my amusement behind my curtain of curiosity. Disguising my impending joy that he had finally lost the job he got so unfairly-you see I am not so different from my species and after all, isn’t this what we always do when we hope that our rival has cracked up?

‘Man it’s worse. The job? No, I still have it. Man! I’ve lost my Johnnie.’ And he turns to touch his manhood from the left hand inside his pockets. ‘It’s all gone. Man! I don’t know what to do. I can’t keep a big problem like this just bottled up in his mind. I need your help.’ The cry of the century follows. His sobbing would humour the Lord of big and small mercies if petitions were presented on such a tearful package. But I’m asking myself the last time I saw a man shed a tear. Was there such weeping since the Daughters of Zion wept when they sat down by the Rivers of Babylon?

He looked furtively outside and before I knew it, he nudged me urgently into my bedroom.

Wonder of wonders. He started to unbutton his three-strip coat. Loosening his belt and unzipping his trouser. ‘Why are you stripping you clothes Onyii?’ I thought he had lost his head as well. He went on casually as all manner of imaginations fed my fertile mind to wander and lost in the terrain of meaning. I stood near the door, made sure that it was still easy to open just in case an instant flight was convenient as I was expecting his heaves of sobs to graduate to mad screams and then run outside like other madmen do or something close.

‘Man it’s gone. It’s gone! The manhood is gone.’ he kept echoing Marley’s refrain: ‘She’s gone! She’s gone! Yea. Oh, mockingbird, have you ever heard words that I never heard?’ But I was in for a real surprise. At once, he was standing stark, naked like Adam, long before he walked that slippery narrow path of disappointing sin and became the undisputed Versace of the day by designing fig leaves into dress. But where was the stick of manhood?

‘Now Onyii, do tell me what exactly is going on because I am not too sure I am standing on my toes of my head.’
‘Amazing things happened to me! Now my third leg is shrinking at the speed of light.’
‘Now what happened to Mr. Johnnie?’ I ask rubbing my eyes to make sure I was seeing a pea size ‘thing’ projecting out between the legs.
‘It was supposed just to refuse to rise to the occasion.’
‘What occasion? Cut out the proverbs. This is no longer funny!’ I warned him. ‘This is very uncomfortable for me Onyii.’

‘This,’ and he turns to hold the undersized and floppy, ‘‘‘third leg’’, is a gun without bullets; dangling uselessly like an elephant proboscis.’ I peeked closer and indeed there was nothing but a petite projecting lifeless cock. He looked away from my scrutinizing search. He looked in the floor. He looked everywhere but he avoided my penetrating gaze. This led me to conclude that a man whose horse was missing would look everywhere even in the roof.

The door crashes open-I had left it just in case- and my aunt poured in with her self-imposing figure. ‘Tea is ready…’ but her invitation is completed with a Holly Molly! And she goes into a scolding recital as she heads back to the door. ‘What on earth is going on here?’ she curses with Jerusalemic proclamations.

‘Now you do remember the witchdoctor I went to see the other day.’ Onyii resumes with his story once we are safely back drinking tea in the sitting room.
‘Now what has he recommended this time round? What has he asked you to do? Another assignment in the ponds to catch mating frogs?’ I don’t tone down my disapproval.

‘No, no! Chumoto.’ His sentence is coloured by interplay of stammering and hiccupping between sobs. ‘You know one struggles to acquire something valuable. And it doesn’t take long when one has found themselves where wanted or got what they were looking for, to get bored and they begin to hunt for another valuable thing. I have found out at my own expense, the disillusionment of the proverbial moth that tried all his life to reach the unreachable star. The emptiness, the bitterness and now this loss.’

I am muted to allow him time to proceed. But he doesn’t. His tearful eyes hover damply in yawning shadowy sockets, half-shrouded by sombre upper lids and lolled under by the weight of tear bags. Subterranean furrows sketch out from the soggy cheeks; slant by past the nose, creating a perfect masque for a Merchant of Venice play. He looks down. Then up. Right and left. That’s the look of all disturbed people. His stare is straight ahead, past me, but at what? Perhaps at nothing. Some imperceptible target. Some irreversible horizon.

‘Now when I got the job I was put in charge of projecting fiscal income. Man! That bored me stiff, you know, sitting about discussing things that has nothing to do with everyday living. I wanted action. I wanted to be part of the group that made things happen. Six months into this boring routine and I was still miles away from the inner circle team. And that’s why when I went to clear my last instalment fee, the witchdoctor told me that was possible too to get that instant promotion. But at a higher cost.’

‘What cost?’ I couldn’t hold it back.
‘A higher one actually since this would mean his consulting with his powerful grandma and patron whose witchcraft was so strong that could control the moon, make flows and ebbs. He could borrow her power but only if I left my manhood with him for three days.’
‘What the…?! Haven’t you heard of scary stories of guys who left theirs and chicks who left breasts but forgot to beat the three day deadline? You never learnt from their bitter experiences?’
‘That scared and I decided to leave immediately.’
‘What? You left your manhood with him?’

‘Nope! I couldn’t possibly do that.’ I mean I walked away. But just when I was at the door, he informed me that there was a better alternative- of course after making more consultations. Which he made. And came up with a better compromise. That I could keep my manhood after all but only on one condition-that it could not rise to the occasion for a period of three days.’

‘And you agreed? Man! You are such a fool. Were you out of your mind Onyii.’ I cut in.
‘I couldn’t resist the promised trappings. And as you can see for yourself, I have a chauffeur driven company car and you have no idea about my net allowances. It’s triple. Anyways, we undertook a small ritual-he rubbed my ‘third leg’ with some ointment. And it went limp. His instructions were simple: to go back after three days with ten thousand shillings, a black cock and three lizards. And for those three days, I wasn’t supposed to go near my girlfriend.’

‘And then?’

‘Yeah. The results were so instant. There was a salary increment three days ago for all company employees who had just completed six months on the job like me. Yesterday, the promotion came. The car just came this morning and a company house is following soon. I just postponed a one week official visit abroad yesterday because that would have been disastrous.’
‘But how did you manage to avoid Achiel?’
‘Well, I called her and lied that I was on an official assignment upcountry but really, I have been spending my nights raving from one bar to another, from one hotel to another.’
‘So when times are happy you play hide and seek with me too, huh?’ I protest. It’s only when you have problems that you come round here. Awright-o, Mr Man?’

‘Nope! You don’t understand. It’s part of the instructions. That I should avoid all my friends. That they are likely to distract me from my noble mission. But to cut the long story short, for the three days while basking in the official sunshine, collecting power and property…’

‘And collecting too the paraphernalia…’ I chipped in.
‘Yeah, I thought about how I will entertain my friends. But man proposes and God disposes because during a shower this morning, in my Hilton bathroom, things took a turn for the worse. My third leg shrunk into an oblivion you’ve just seen. Just on the last day when I should be bagging my hopes but things go wrong. Imagine after impatiently counting all those seconds in my Rolex and thinking of how life would be sweeter after the end of my three-day worthwhile celibacy. So after three course breakfast -beer and wine inclusive- and with my stuff I drove downtown to Kariokor to see the witchdoctor from Zanzibar. I dismissed the driver of course.’

Onyii is a such boring storyteller when it comes to explaining drama. Especially drama that he is part of its enacting. To cut the blab-la-blab, the purported witchdoctor’s house was a hive of activity-sad looking stone faces filled the atmosphere poisoning the scented air with sighs and groans. Onyii’s heart sank to his toes after he asked who was being mourned. It was the very witchdoctor. He had just passed on-to the underworld I guess- peacefully that morning. And his funeral was in progress. African funerals are dramatic occasions so much so that my Kilt-clad buddy Eric is just about to make a hit in publishing Instant Guide Series just from his enduring experiences.

A remote relation will dig for the distant vestiges with the deceased as they clamour for their share of attention while doing all manner of mournful gymnastics. ‘Poor sod!’ one would cry, beating the chest. What a shame you went away in your prime.’
‘He was such a nice man’ another would intone, as they dug deeper into the rice and meat stew provided by the deceased family. Another would enter through the gate in such a dramatis persona that would impress a casting agent eulogizing the departed soul that he hardly knew higher up into the skies. And that’s why Onyii’s weeping himself blind went unnoticed. Each tribute paid to the deceased became a pointed dagger, piercing his heart.

And while he stood there dazed and lost for words to express his truly deep loss, moaning and weeping and gnashing teeth and looking like a man who had just discovered that the earth was actually flat, the other ‘relations’ could not guess what pain and loss he was undergoing. Perhaps that’s why some mourners, on his behalf and prompting, rolled themselves silly in the dust and the courtyard and the grass leaving a pitiable sight for someone else to come and sympathize and kindly give them a shilling or so-for washing the clothes after the vexing funeral. Anyways if rivers were dry, they were able to fill it with those crocodile tears and were the wind down there were enough sighs to drive the boat with.

When the mourners wept louder than the owners of the corpse, whom would Onyii open his heart to? All his ‘Gone for good! Gone for good!’ echoes succeeded only in catching idler’s attention, which followed with a hum of ‘Was he your brother? Was he your brother?’
‘He was such a loving person! He was a man in a million!’
‘I loved him too. He was my favourite cousin.’
But as this was drama, they followed Onyii’s cue and changed their tune to match with his ‘how could I be so silly? Curse the day I made a deal with him!’ Professional mourners cried: ‘This twisted hoodlum! Rogue! Robber! For he robbed me too! Demi-devil, for he was a bastard.’ But cursing or no cursing, none could suck the melancholic dirge out of the compound like a weasel sucks eggs? Was there a reverse way? An escape route? A secret mountain passage to make his fall back plan B easier?

‘You did a good thing. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I am going to help you pal.’ my words never fell so assuring like to a drowning man dangling on a thin rope thrown out. Onyii’s face came back alive with hopes. His eyes brightened and he wetted his dry lips for a hundredth time as I prepared a plan B.
‘But you must be ready to do as I say.’ I warned him.
‘Anything you say Mr. Doctor...’ he removed his hands for a brief moment and waved them to show that he had no objections.

Therefore, we drove to the Mathari Mental Hospital. We were going to see a doctor friend who worked in the psychiatric department and whom through our scraps of conversations with other friends who had studied medicine, promised a glimmer of hope for strange cases like those of Onyii. This was so because the hospital made use of African healing and group therapy and they relied on the skills of witchdoctors-well versed in African science. We had argued this in many a noisy discussion with these learned friends.

It was our lucky day because he wasn’t that busy. He owed me several favours and he was more than willing to help Onyii out. An emergency was an emergency-so we had to rush to the adjacent traditional clinic where we would meet one of the experts who was off duty. We drew our car to a stop at his gate and were surrounded by jostling market-women, offering to sell us red chicken, the colour of palm oil, and other essential elements for the therapy. This is real business ingenuity that seem to confirm that necessity is the mother of invention that seem to beckon ‘you need it; we’ve got it!’ although we didn’t buy anything though.

I am attracted by the ingenuity of the expert’s poster that seems to have been written by a drunken monkey. It’s not more than some random scraps of writing, such as a man with a pen in his hand might make for idleness or for practice, and it contains lots of typos and embellished over-qualifications. Clauses and phrases fought for supremacy in the tiny wooden board.

The title Prof. Maji Marefu doesn’t help much. Nor the claim to have descended from a famous Tanzanian expert-ess whose sorcery depopulated the Chagga land and a whole race of men when she vomited billions of mosquitoes whose bites are known the world over before the coming of the white men and modern medical doctors. There is a also a misspelled reference to Dr. ‘Defid Livingstowne’, who as a victim, almost succumbed to malaria but was spared by to this great wizard.

I wonder what was so cool about identifying with a dead character from a dead past. The Malawians take great pride in burying the good old doctor’s liver, bowels and heart at the foot of his favourite tree. The Spanish extol themselves in burying the scrotum of Columbus. One should visit the Maasai Market in Nairobi because there is a lot of that nowadays where the enterprising Kikuyu dressed like the Maasai can sell you two Vasco da Gamma skulls-one when he was a teenager and the other one allegedly when he was 90-although no one can tell if he reached such a ripe old age. I wouldn’t mind if in 2500 A.D my jawbone were displayed in Maasai Market. But these are just my digressing thoughts.

Going back to Prof. Maji Marefu, I almost confuse it for a Minister’s villa where desperate visitors desire to solicit this or that favour before the minister wakes. The mammoth clienteles make me to revise my assumption about his ‘expertise’ and whether the challenge to bring down a piece of the sky was merely empty bravado or not. You know there is credence in numbers as politicians will comfort us. That the majority can never be wrong. And I can attest to this because if masses claimed to see ‘things’ and the psychiatrist agreed to this truth, then chances were high that it were probably right. And for me to say that all those people were hallucinating and seeing ‘things’ then I would the one who was cracked upstairs.

The usher, tall, black and gaunt man, smiled on all and sundry, revealing his teeth stained with tobacco. The clients wait patiently, seated on a rough-hewn bench, whose surface was polished by time and the service it had rendered. We were led straight inside into the consultation room since our doctor friend was a well-known visitor and was welcome anytime. The space reserved for consultation was divided into two by a silken-draped partition. The first half served as a changing-room. In the second and bigger compartment stood a bulky bathtub, which some young girls filled with steaming water; in this, bits of wood were floating.

I was expecting some sort of briefing or consultation but none was forth coming from the way formalities were dispensed. Onyii was directed by the expert to the next room where he changed his clothes for some comfortable long white garb, which he removed in our presence. The expert then brandished a red chicken in his long arms, and struck the naked Onyii with it, from his head to his feet. The chicken squawked its disapproval of this treatment, and then as if laden with all the impurities of commission and omission that Onyii had accumulated, it gave a final cackle and expired. The expert mumbled some mumbo-jumbo and without scruple, bit off the bird’s lifeless head with his toothless gums and executed with the most savage slaughter you can imagine-with his bare hands in a manual dexterity that amused the doctor and offended the animal rights activist in me.

Then he expert drew the gizzard out of the dead bird and spread its contents on the ground. From the form of the entrails, he could foretell the future and the problem. That explains why there was neither formal briefing nor any prior explanations. The doctor explained later on that the swelling in the shape of two horns indicated that Onyii had been bewitched by someone, at whose disposal he now was.

‘A woman is bringing you bad luck,’ said the scrawny man, adding, ‘it’s a good thing you came to me!’ we did not understand why he and the doctor broke instantaneously into laughter.

To complete his ‘cure’, lichen-coloured water was poured over Onyii, soaking him from head to foot. He rose to his feet, feeling a sense of relief, and proffered a thousand-shilling note to his ‘saviour’. He got undressed again in the changing –room while another well-dressed man passed him into the consultation room almost immediately. But the expert excused himself and asked his assistant to attend to the new client as he joined us in the next room

My sharp tongue couldn’t rest with so many burning questions. Did he communicate with the underworld? Are all the claims possible to perform? Could he explain logically how he did what he did? I found it easy to believe my doctor friend as opposed to his crooked superstitions, which took refuge in all sorts of excellent metaphysical sophistries. But whence did magic converge with medical sciences?

‘Spit it! Don’t hold it back Chumoto. Hound him. That he’s an impostor. That this is not real.’ The doctor stimulates me.

‘Who knows? What we hear about him is probably true because a rumour is never true until it’s denied. Let him deny it. That he can change the course of the stars and the planets. That he has a monopoly of wisdom and realities hidden from us mortals.

‘They could be stories, things imagined, or related, things that happened, could happen in life or in true dreams.’ The expert grins as he explains, ‘But to assume that unusual events are the only reality, is a mark of one-sided materialism. As Hamlet said to Horatio, ‘there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt in your philosophy.’ He paused and joins Onyii inside the warm water.

We follow the movement of his hand as it massaged Onyii’s manhood- I think it’s more of a mishandle because Onyii winced at the treatment.

‘External events have their own limited reality, but there are bigger realities behind them, and sometimes appear darkly in the visions of ordinary men, but more clearly in the visions of poets, seers, philosophers, and doctors like these…’ He pointed at the doctor who smiles.

We sat on the couch, facing the water that rippled in the light breeze, where the naked Onyii was in, holding in his hands one of the pieces of yellow stump from the tub, which prolonged the salutary effect of the Jacuzzi bath. Onyii’s face betrayed his anxiety to know when the cock in him would rise to the occasion.

‘It’s all here, son’, the expert went on pointing at back of his head. ‘It’s all in here. This is the thinking organ and once you disable it, then the organs below the neck can’t function much. The mind is a terrible thing to lose.’

But I ask again. ‘Who is the biggest liar between a politician, the preacher and you witchdoctors? When you prey on the vulnerable ignoramuses-exploiting them for your selfish ends?’

‘I have heard that accusation too. No one appreciates us except when they,’ and he points at Onyii, ‘pop here now and then to solicit this or that favour. Onyii wants a promotion. He needs to get a job. A beautiful wife. A bigger car and an expensive mansion. All these vanities and chasing after useless dreams which even if it become real, there is still no satisfaction. Do the achievements help or destroy him? See him now? So desperate to undo the reversal of events, and what he thinks is an injustice. We witch or bush or medical doctors, politicians and clergy will be there as long as the human need yearns for ‘enough’ space to fulfil - to borrow your words - its useless ambitions.’

The doctor hypothesizes. ‘Isn’t the human race like the proverbial man who builds a shack on a shifting sand cliff on the brink of an abyss, already undermined by forces that he does not see? The cliff and the foundations all crumble to pieces along with him, and he is plunged into the fires of misery from which there is no escape. Where are we with our modern medicine? Are we any better than our ancestors? Pain, weakness, disease, the illnesses of the soul and mind still trouble the very best. And every now and then a strange disease plagues mankind in spite of the researchers.’

‘It’s all confusing, yes.’ I go on. ‘But it’s still a masquerade dance you people enact to bolster your hot air.’

‘But son, have you ever heard of any unplaced prophet winning the hearts of his own people? Have you? None is so kind to recognize our valuable input into modern science. What is modern science if not African science? From the Egyptians down to the Phoenicians. From Moses to Jesus.

‘What is such a prophet to do,’ I don’t give in, ‘when his total means of existence and livelihood depends wholly and solely on how excellent he’s able to tell lies? Talk big, brag; pull quick tricks and cut-in-big bluffs? They claim to double money but they are still living poor. They declare to have a cure to all manner of diseases yet our hospitals are still flowing with patients dying. Empty bravado is not enough to call your profession!’

‘You can believe in whatever is logical. You deceive yourself without knowing.’ The expert goes on. ‘Onyii wanted to exploit magicry. The witchdoctor’s death was just a coincidence. His time had come and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the shrinking and final disappearance of Onyii’s monster. Every dog has its day. We deal with unseen things not of this world...’

‘Every time you people talk lots of bull, you find different ways to of saying it. Different things to make up about it. It is always about what we mortals cannot see…’I cut in. ‘but that’s not more than big talk from the merchants of masters of hot-air.’

‘I am not making up anything but standing here to tell you about the facts of what happens. You just need to know the science of how things work and you’ll appreciate what we do as experts. All this time Onyii had him manhood. Some simple chemistry was altered which your doctor friend will explain to you in a short time.’

‘Are you saying that I never lost my manhood?’ Onyii confirms. ‘I feel cheated and short-changed like that hare in the story who thought he could cheat his personal spirit-chi. Anyway, why did you have to make me go through all this?’

‘Looks is deceiving. You can cheat liars-that’s alright. You can even fool honest men-that’s still allowable, but you can’t deceive the very instrument-the very mind- that gives you the strength to deceive and that allows you in advance to deceive with impunity-that, you truly cannot expect to get away with! Because that goes against the laws of nature.’ I felt like I had cornered him.

But he only paused thoughtfully before spitting back to us what I think was his final testament about the whole magicry world. ‘Truth and nature is what you make it to be. You have the choice and the free will. The one,’ and he pointed skyward with his index finger, ‘overwhelms man with a multitude of unkeepable commandments, and therefore, there’s nothing left for him to do but to forgive occasionally. The other, on the other hand, liberates man from those unkeepable commandments, and therefore, understandably, they are totally rid of the need to choose anything, even that capacity to forgive. But even if that weren’t so, they wouldn’t be able to forgive the betrayal of the very agreement releasing all that boundless freedom.’

The doctor is excited as he applauds the expert. ‘Hear! Hear! Hearing the testimony from him is like hearing the theory of relativity from Einstein himself.’

‘That is just half the truth.’ I cut in menacingly, although I had no further tricks up my sleeve.

Onyii comes to the expert’s defence. ‘It’s ironic, but now that I’ve definitely found my manhood and my knowledge serves no purpose to me, I’m finally beginning to understand it all. He’s right I was an arrogant madman who thought he could exploit the devil without signing away his soul to him. But as everyone knows, one can’t deceive the devil.’
‘Yes, Onyii. The devil is the master of deception.’ I add to the expert and the doctor’s consternation.
‘Wait a minute! Now! Hold it! I never said that there’s such a thing as a devil!’ the expert makes a comeback.
‘But I am saying it.’ I put in cleverly. ‘And he’s actually here among us.’
‘Are you referring to me?’ that was the agitated expert.
‘You’re just a subordinate little fiend!’
‘I know your opinions,’ the doctor laughs away the joke. ‘And therefore I understand this metaphor of yours as well. Through us, you want to accuse modern and ancient sciences of being the true source of all that is evil. Isn’t that right?’

‘No, it isn’t! Through you, I want to accuse the conceit of that fanatical, all potent, and self-serving power that uses the sciences merely as a handy weapon for shooting down anything that threatens it, that is, anything that doesn’t derive it’s authority from this power or that is related to an authority deriving it’s powers elsewhere.’
‘That’s a legacy you wish to preach in this world?’
‘Yes! I would die for such a legacy.’ I proclaim.

‘I find it banal. In societies without suppression every half way clever little hack writer churns out stuff like that these days! But a legacy is a legacy, so in spite of what you think of me, I’ll give you an example of how tolerant I am by overlooking my reservations and applauding your last testament!’ The expert rises to go.

We rise too. He makes his final prescription for Onyii. ‘Boy, I will pronounce your prescription. You shall fast a week with cellulose and water.’ But I add jokingly that he had better pray a month with pork and corn bread.’

The doc explains as we head back to the car that he had a choice of two places for Onyii. We could have done similar medical examination back in the hospital, which would have involved him rubbing acetylene salve in to stimulate and wash the effects of what his witchdoctor used. But he had wanted us to see first hand how will-power and belief worked. We had been quite sincere in agreeing to get involved with ancestral healing practices, which as Onyii found helped in strengthening will power and bringing people back to the straight and narrow path. But my reason had difficulty in finding its way amidst the tangle of tradition, custom and science.

The fact that the medical facilities utilized traditional healers in the psychiatric hospital showed that they were valuable in their services. Especially those cases that seem not to have any logical explanation. That is was all in the head. The cream used is a known substance numbs parts of the body and its effect can stay on depending on the dosage.

The doctor took a serious gaze at Onyii as he made his prescription too: ‘Now arise and shine into the world for you have been healed. Child. Go home and sin no more.’ That pronunciation, declared with an almost messianic note, hit Onyii like a hurricane.

‘Thanks pals’, he whispered. ‘Even if I am not ‘delivered’, even if I don’t get back my former self, I appreciate your loyal friendship.’

We got back into the car and Onyii took to the wheel. He drove with great care. The purifying bath had put in him a desire to see his girlfriend as soon as it was possible. It had driven his thoughts off from his job. He held the wheel as if the need to hold her in his arms were urgently overwhelming. He no longer saw his job as the goal of his desires. He had a new experience and saw ‘visible things’ in a new light.

We drove though the highway, going straight to his girlfriend’s house. By the time we reached there, he looked refreshed. Leaving us in the car, he knocked at the door. The lass! Achiel came to open the door with a puzzling but knowing look. We could only imagine how the ‘Grab- your-lass-and-come whistling would end once they were safely tucked behind the curtains. The lass! All he wanted was to gaze on it again, to watch the blade undulating in the earth. The spanking new self lashed pleasantly against his face and purified his manhood as they hugged and with his free right hand, dug deeply into his trouser pockets thinking of what lay ahead, gave us a last look and again whistled softly at ‘Grab-your-lass-and-come!

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