By Aaron Aroriza:
I don't know whether Moses lied about the distance so as not to discourage me to start the journey or whether it was just an oversight but two hours into the journey and after walking a distance I was quite sure was close to 6km, Moses told me we were almost halfway there. What?
I dried my sweaty brow with my sweat drenched t-shirt and mulled over the wisdom of my decision to visit the shrine as I wrung the now dirty wet t-shirt.
Moses, perhaps sensing that I was beginning to have second thoughts, started walking again assuring me the journey would be worth it. He told me to have a little faith. Quite ironic if you ask me, seeing that we were heading to a shrine – a place where any Christian faithful would tell you is only for the lost souls, the hopeless ones that have lost all faith.
That's not what I saw when I finally reached Moses' promised land of the shrine. From atop the hill one could have confused the shrine parking area for a car bond. Yes, it even has a parking lot. When we finally got to the shrine I saw so many faithfuls – some of them wearing the crucifix. You could tell people from all walks of life came to this shrine to have their problems fixed but it's the car with a government number plate that surprised me most. Doing government business there…huh?
Moses must be well connected in this part of the world. After seeing all these cars, I thought I was going to queue up all day to have a chance to talk to mother of all witches but Moses did his magic and within half an hour I was ushered into the witch's living room using the back door – the literal backdoor.
Moses told me he had already narrated all my problems to the 'doctor' (I didn't even know I had problems) and she was ready to do her diagnosis. The living room was a ordinary one – like for any other ordinary folk. Pictures of the Virgin Mary were pinned on all the four corners of the room staring down at the faithfuls that sat on the floor, leaning back on their hands and with their legs stretched out in front. The room was quiet – perhaps just as a shrine should be.
The miracle 'doctor', with a very kind and comforting smile on her face, motioned me to sit on the floor. I didn't need any more instructions; I got into the exact posture all the other dozen or so people in the room were striking. She went outside and came back with a metallic bowl filled with water in one hand and a banana leaf in the other. She put the bowl just slightly in front of my feet, picked a rosary from a funny looking pot that must have contained many more rosaries. She mumbled some words as she motioned the sign of the cross like the catholic clergy do. Then she prayed to God and the virgin Mary to release all my troubles into the magic water bowl before she slipped the rosary around my left and right foot big toes. She asked me to look at the water in the bowl and confirm for myself that nothing was in it. I couldn't help but think of all those illusionists and how they always make sure their 'victims' double check before the act is pulled off. After confirming, she placed the other end of the rosary that has the crucifix on it into the water filled bowl and placed a banana leaf over the bowl.
She left the room and for the next thirty minutes I sat on that floor of that crowded silent room-a thousand things running through my head and a hundred inner voices questioning my wisdom.
To be continued…
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