Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Sermon

One day I notice a young boy on the wards – he looks about 10 or 12 years old, and he is wearing a bright green fleece sweater. He is speaking loudly in Runyankole; dramatically, commandingly, with a growl to punctuate his words. There is lots of arm waving and pacing. It looks like a religious sermon, but that doesn’t make sense. Why would these women respect a sermon from a 12-year-old boy? I look to see if there was some older religious authority there with him, but he is alone.

Why would a boy spend his Saturday preaching to women in the maternity ward of a hospital? And why would the women want it? Maybe they just tolerate it because he’s so young and cute.

But no, then I see that he is standing above one woman, he reaches his hands up and lowers them over her body until he is touching her. He continues to shout in Runyankole, with his eyes closed and his face pointed to the ceiling. She has her eyes closed in order to be healed by him. This is not merely bemused tolerance of a silly child.

He has been talking so loudly and for so long that we can’t help but hear it from where we are in admissions. Moses, one of the postgraduates, is now getting distracted; a couple of times he looks over at the boy, chuckles and shakes his head.

When I look again he is on to another woman, who is standing with her eyes closed. He puts one hand on her forehead and waves the other hand up and down in the air, shouting all the while in his growly tone.

So it’s definitely religious, but I’m still confused. Why would this boy spend his time doing this?

The next time I turn back, I get it. He has just finished his healing with a woman close to the door; she reaches out a hand, and he takes the money in her hand and puts it in his pocket.

Later I see him outside the building. He looks like any other little kid, there to visit his mother or something.

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