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On Being an Evil Spirit


I was sitting in my room one day when a fellow-teacher who had rented a room in the same place called me. “Sarah! Come quick and bring your camera! You have to see this!”

I ran downstairs and watched open-mouthed as an amazing collection of costumed characters collected in the alley way that lead to our front door. There was face-paint and feathers. And there was a big devil’s head with a long tail. A fire was kindled the dancers assembled, and the ceremony began. We both watched breathless, snapping pictures as the big, grinning head bobbed, swooped and rolled. Afterwards we looked at each other, amazed at the privilege of having such a visual treat right outside our door.

I don’t know how much later it was that we learned the reason for this visit: among traditional people, foreigners were considered to be evil spirits, bearing bad luck. It seems that our landlord was a traditional man– or maybe he was just taking no chances. Since a number of us evil spirits were living on his property he had paid for a traditional cleansing ceremony to ward off the bad luck we were bringing him.

While a little dismayed at this view of ourselves from another perspective, we nevertheless felt, and I think, still feel, that it was a wonderful thing to see.

The Wanderer logosmtm4

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