Sunday, November 8, 2009

mangoes from god

When the Buddha concluded that life is suffering, he must have been attending our local church service. Around 200 bodies, crammed into a hot, stagnant, concrete box (also known as an inappropriately designed church) for over two hours of ranting and communing with the Big Fella. I am here under invitation from Benja to witness, and more importantly photograph, the christening of his son, Disyon. I hanker down at the back, hoping for a quick getaway.

Looking around the congregation there is no doubt that the population of the developing world is exploding. Kids are everywhere; scrambling under seats, suckling at the breast, bouncing on nana’s knee and singing in the choir. Almost every child that has the ability to hold something in its hand has a fist full of nutritionally void junk food – chips, lollies, sugary drinks and biscuits – and the wrappers are tossed on the ground without reprimand.

As the only buleh in attendance, it is impossible to slip outside without being notice. I find a shady spot and sit in the dirt with a pig, a chook and a few loose children. The animals are for sale at the end of church auction and are very unhappy about their tethered state. I feel their pain. After a brief respite, I am ushered to a seat at the front of the congregation, beside the altar. Now there is no escape.

The high priestess calls forward the first believer and washes the baby’s head three times with holy water. Phew, the little bundle is saved. I am ready with the camera for little Disyon’s big moment with the lord, and feel an unexpected surge of affection for this community I have made my home.

Tom arrives with five minutes to go, fresh from the surf and smug with the knowledge he missed the agony. The fundraising auction begins and Tom puts in the winning bid for a huge bag of mangoes. 103 to be exact. 0.003 cents each. Thanks be to god.

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