Meetings in the desert

5th October 1974 |

There are four Bescharyin tribesmen here at the teahouse with me, exotic figures, splendidly robed and armed, their hair teased out and glued into strands. I realize with a start that these must be the Fuzzie-wuzzies who fought so fanatically against Gordon at Khartoum. The contact between us is instantaneous and overwhelming.

There is a spirit in this tea, a magic solvent to wash away our differences. This is another reason why I am here: to experience (nothing less) the brotherhood of man. Imagine meeting these men in a London pub or an American diner. Impossible. They could never be there what they are here. They would be made small by the complexities, the paraphernalia that we have added to our lives, just as we are, although we have learned to pretend otherwise.
I had to come here to realize the full stature of man; here outside a grass hut, on a rough wooden bench, with no noise, no crowds, no appointments, no axe to grind, no secret to conceal, all the space and time in the world, and my heart as translucent as the glass of tea in my hand.