Today a story was regaled to me, a recollection from a man’s childhood. It is a tale of magic, a beautiful African story of the world being more mysterious than one could possibly understand.

I present it here for your enrichment.

As a child, we went through many spells of drought, where the crops would wither and the wild animals would vanish from the savannah. I came to notice that my neighbor would never seem to be hungry, always as lively as ever despite the desolation surrounding us all. I asked why, and learned that he had the ability to transform into an animal. During drought, he would simply become a porcupine and eat whatever it is that porcupines eat. It is this magic one finds in Africa that defies all logic, yet it is true.

In primary school, we witnessed many shows and plays, as I am sure you yourself have in your own education. One of these left a permanent mark on me. Two great birds were fighting to the death onstage, in front of the whole student body. But these were no ordinary birds. One was my neighbor, who had transformed himself into a great bird. I forget the English name, but it is similar to what you call a goose, yet massive. We used to have them here in Nairobi, but they are certainly prevalent where I grew up. His opponent was a man who had transformed himself into a hawk, and the two fought fiercely. Once my neighbor had mortally wounded his opponent, they transformed back into men. My neighbor, standing proud and victorious in his original form, stood over his opponent. He then urinated over the dying man, releasing a waterfall of yellow that lasted nearly three hours. As we students watched, the the losing party drowned in his opponent’s urine. The victor transformed back into the mighty bird, and flew out a window. I never saw him again.

It would be many years before I learned that my former neighbor had passed away; however, it was not the same kind of death you or I are used to. There was considerable dispute over whether this magical shapeshifting man was truly dead. The doctors at the hospital had declared him dead, yet the morgue staff were insistent that the body they had recieved was still very much alive. For one year the morgue was at standoff with the hospital, refusing to release to the grave a body that was still alive despite being cold and immobile. Finally, the government of Kenya stepped in and officially sent the body to the grave, in opposition to the opinion of the morgue staff. And thus the story of the urinating bird-man had reached its end.