Donnerstag, 17. Dezember 2009

Witch Child

Selina wrapped the scarf carefully around her head to hide her destroyed head. The people living in her street thought she was eccentric for never showing her face out in the open. But she would take being considered eccentric over pity every time. Only close friends were allowed to see the molten thing her face had become.

On her way to the market Selina passed the church. It gave her dark delight to live so close to this special place. Her family had lived here for decades, prospering on the white tourists who came to see "picturesque" life in an African village. Some of her uncles and aunts had sold souvenirs. Her grandmother had even opened a tiny bed and breakfast, very simple, very successful. And Selina's father had spent his life as a pickpocket, steeling everything the tourists would not want to spend.

Maybe as a kind of atonement, her mother had been a devout member of the church. She had taken her children to service every Sunday - Selina and her two brothers, small dark children with black curls and yellowish eyes in smiling faces. They wore their best clothes and tried to get to church as clean as possible.

Especially Selina listened to the preacher with big eyes and her mouth shut tightly, so she would not miss a single word he said. She firmly believed that he was right, that his words came from God and that she might be saved from whatever it was she needed saving from if only she was a good child.

She didn’t know for sure, but she strongly suspected it was this intent listening that first brought her to the preacher’s attention. From there to that special night it was only a short way. Several small steps, all innocent, leading to doom. Selina’s amber eyes – the eyes of a lion, or maybe a demon. Her habit of painting in the dirt besides the road, with sticks and stones, and decorating her pictures with leaves and colorful pieces of cloth.

That night they came, yanked her out of bed and brought her to church. There were people she knew very well, and others she had never seen in her life. They had lit candles and chanted ecstatically. Selina was brought to the front. The shaved her head, leaving her naked and surrounded by black hair, coarse as lamb’s wool. She was afraid and listened carefully, trying to understand. People whispered and looked at her disgusted, keeping careful distance at the same time. It almost seemed as if they were afraid.

“Witch” – one whispered word, repeated over and over, had destroyed her life. To prove his point, the preacher sprinkled her with what he claimed to be holy water – and he didn’t lie, he was a servant of God, so part of it surely was holy water. It was meant to show if her soul was corrupted or pure. Evil would be singed away at the first encounter with it. And to be sure his show would go smoothly, he had mixed the water with something different – sulphuric acid, Selina suspected, but she didn’t know it. This mixture had eaten skin and flesh off her bones and almost killed her. Finally they had left her, “defeated”, as they claimed, supposedly dead.

Two days later white people had found her and taken her to hospital. It had been too late to save her face, but not too late to save her life. She was brought far away to live with another family. And there she had learned everything she needed to know about the craft.

Today was a special day. Selina only had a quick glance for the church where her first life had ended. She had returned to this very village, and people who remembered her were afraid of her. But they came to her in the dark of the night, asking for potions and ointments to make their wishes come true or slay their enemies. Selina was the first one in her family who didn’t have to live at the tourists’ mercy. Once or twice she had been asked to perform her “mumbo jumbo” as part of the great African show, but she had refused. Her life was good the way it was. And in a few moments she would meet a special business partner. He had assured her that he could fulfill her needs. She was a tiny bit nervous. Nothing she had tried had helped her. She was a master of the craft, but this needed more powerful intervention.

“You have what I need?”

He nodded and opened one of the large canvas bags lying in the dust at his feet.

She looked at his goods and handed him a wad of bills. Dollars, the only thing of real value around here. Then she took her purchase back home. White limbs. Human limbs. A very special treat to restore herself.

Tanzanian albino. Magical flesh.


Two true tales woven into one.

Even today African children are accused of witchcraft and are beaten, maimed or killed.

At the same time the flesh of human albinos is considered a magical cure for many problems, and children as well as adults are killed for superstition (and money, of course).


Deanna Schrayer hat gesagt…

Such a terribly sad story, but well told. It's so hard to imagine such horror, but even worse that it truly exists.

Laura Eno hat gesagt…

I don't think I can say it any better than Deanna just did. Wonderfully told.

Marisa Birns hat gesagt…

First paragraph is a very good lead-in to this trenchant story of fear, ignorance, and horror.

Well done.

shannon esposito hat gesagt…

The worst part is that she can't see what she's doing is coming from the same poisonous place of ignorance and superstition. Such horrible things that go on, how? I just don't understand people sometimes.

Michelle hat gesagt…

Just horrible, heart renching story. Well written.

Sam hat gesagt…

Sad tale, but one which made my flesh crawl to think that practices like these still go on. Wonderfully evocative.

Craig Daniels hat gesagt…

Sobering story, well done. thanks for sharing

Judy hat gesagt…

Extremely scary...

Magaly Guerrero hat gesagt…

Horror can be told beautifully. It can be very informative. It can make a Witch cry...

Linda Wildenstein hat gesagt…

your storytelling skills wove a beautiful telling of a horribly sad and foul tale. You are very talented.