Friday, April 15, 2005

faith stories: elka of the wai wai -part 4

(Part 4 of Chapter 8: "Into the Pit of My Stomach" from the book Christ’s Witchdoctor by Homer Dowdy © 1963).

[Introduction] [part 1] [part 2] [part 3]

part 4 ...

In the shurifana Elka sang to the bush hogs. But it was not his pets he thought of. Instead, he remembered what God’s Paper said about the time when the evil spirits obeyed Jesus’ masterful command and forsook the tortured man who lived where the dead were buried. Elka had been impressed by the story while helping Bahm to translate the Gospel according to Mark.

Where did the spirits go? Into a pack of wild pigs feeding in the mountains. The pigs became violent and ran down a steep bank and drowned in the water. How scary it was! Were they like his pets, these wild pigs to whom the spirits fled?

Elka went on singing his old familiar songs. But when he sang to the hummingbird it did not come down to carry him to the region of the spirits.

From inside the big house, where they had taken to their hammocks, the people called into the shurifana. They supposed that the spirits had come down to occupy Elka’s body. In their usual manner they started chatting with them while Elka, they thought, was sojourning in the sky.

"Where is Malu?" they asked.

"We don’t know," answered Elka, imitating the falsetto he had heard the spirits speak in when they used a witchdoctor’s voice.

Did Kworokyam carry him away?" asked one in the big house.

"No," Elka replied. "We don’t know where he is."

"Do you think he sank?"

"He probably sank."

Elka tried again and again to contact the spirits. But Bahm’s words kept coming back. He could not concentrate on Kworokyam. All the while he felt as if Bahm–or maybe it was God– were there in the dark hut with him. Maybe for this reason the spirits refused to come down.

Greatly disturbed by his failure to lure the spirit of his pets, Elka left the Shurifana in dejection. Yukuma was there waiting.

"What did the spirits tell you in the sky?" he asked anxiously.

Elka thought it best to say nothing of his failure, or that his thoughts had been of God. Turning away from Yukuma’s pleading eyes, he said,

"I did not hear them clearly."

Yukuma started to turn away, hope nearly lost. Then thinking suddenly of one last resource, he turned back to Elka to suggest,

"Maybe you can go to sleep and dream." There was no bravado now. Yukuma was entirely servile toward his cousin. "Maybe Kworokyam will reveal to you in a dream where my son is."

Elka tried, though it was no use. Elka did not dream that night. He hardly slept.

Malu was found three days later, his body floating in a backwater of the river. If Elka needed proof, here it was, in the sad sight of Yukuma’s third dead son: while thinking thoughts of God, Elka could never exercise Kworokyam’s power.

That was it. That explained his failures. Stuck fully onto Kworokyam, Elka could call and Kworokyam would answer. Stuck just a little and wavering toward God, Kworokyam held him in disdain.

God’s paper said he could not serve both God and Kworokyam. Well, Kworokyam felt that way too.
He was surely going to have to choose between the two.

on to part 5...


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