Don’t Afraid It

“Don’t afraid it”, the man cried imploringly, as he worked desperately to steady the craft, legs spread with one bare foot on each edge, sweat already dripping from his body – even though the journey to Lizard Island had not even begun. I have frequently wondered back to those words of his.  Did he mean that I was not to fear his canoe? Or, rather, did he feel that my very presence there was threatening the natural balance that existed between him and his boat, that I was, as it were, guilty of ‘afraiding his canoe’? That my attitude, my energy – perhaps the weight of the European guilt I carried out there, there on the shores of Lake Malawi – was somehow upsetting the delicate relationship that existed between man and wood, wood and lake, lake and sky?

I only discovered later that the locals knew the island to be cursed.

To be continued.

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