Sunday, November 27, 2005

A memory evoked by the statue of Bruce Lee unveiled yesterday in Bosnia:

I was in Khartoum, perhaps the last American to get a visa into Sudan, retracing the journey of Zarafa. I kept off the streets at night and made friends who looked out for me by day: a Muslim taxi driver, Mohammad, who adopted me as his daily daylong fare; and William, very tall with facial scars that identified him as a Nuer tribesman, who worked at my hotel. I had arranged for a government functionary to accompany me to Sennar on the Blue Nile, and William surprised me by knowing about the trip before I could tell him.

"Be careful of your friends with the turbans," William told me. "If, at the last minute, they can not go with you, you do not go."

"Thanks, William," I said, not as worried as he wanted me to be. "What could happen?"

"They will put you in the cannibal pot."

"I'm too skinny to eat."

"They will make soup."

The night before I left for Sennar, Thanksgiving eve, I was returning later than usual to my hotel and Mohammad asked if we could stop at a mosque for his evening prayer. The mosque had glass walls and I got out and stood on the sidewalk watching the crowd of men praying in the light inside, kneeling and bowing in faithful unison. The street was dark with night in the trees but there was still light in the sky. A man walked by and our eyes met and, shocked at the sight of me, he stopped and shouted at me in Arabic. His diatribe attracted a few other men who joined him in heckling me. They were between me and the car and I was stuck, instinctively holding up my hands to placate them, when Mohammad appeared and stepped in front of me. The men yelled at Mohammad and he yelled back, and suddenly the hecklers went silent and looked around amazed at each other. Then they all stepped forward and each man shook my hand.

I was as amazed as they were. "Mohammad, what did you say to them?"

"I told them you wrote Enter The Dragon."

To see and read more about Bosnia's Bruce Lee:


Post a Comment

<< Home