Dr. Beatrice Murray had thought the hardest part of her job would be to raise money for her late husband's foundation. Funding deserving students from third world countries was hard enough. Dealing with a sex scandal was not part of her job description. Beatrice was lovely and desirable at 33 years old. She had married her much older husband and he had endured a lot of criticism for "robbing the cradle." They didn't care for they loved each other very much. Now that her husband was gone Beatrice had vowed to carry on his work but how did you deal with this? "Joseph, I'm very disappointed in you," she said finally. The tall African man stood ramrod straight in front of her desk.
"I know, Dr. Murray. I am very sorry."
"Is there any reason why I shouldn't send you back on the first flight to Nairobi?"
"Mrs. Bingham did not see everything and so she cannot know everything."
"She saw enough. Mrs. Bingham caught you seducing her daughter, Leona, in her own home. Is this how you repay Mrs. Bingham's hospitality? She's my best friend. Leona is my godchild. Do you realize Mrs. Bingham wants you arrested and charged with sexual assault?"
"Leona is legally an adult in the United States. She does not wish to prefer charges against me."
"That is the only reason you're not sitting in a jail cell at this very moment. To top it off Leona thinks she might be pregnant."
"I am certain that she is correct."
"I am certain Leona is pregnant."
"You seem proud of that possibility."
"It is most certainly a fact, not a possibility."
"You're insufferable! If you're right, how do you propose to support this baby? You're only 18 years old." He looked more like a twelve year old despite his height.
"Of course, I will not be able to support the child. Leona will raise the child by herself."
"By herself? Listen mister, I have a call out to your government representatives. I'm terminating you from the foundation scholarship program, effective immediately. I sincerely hope you're sent home in disgrace."
"Dr. Murray, would you agree with the old saying that there are two sides to every story?"
"Yes, of course I would."
"Would you be kind enough to listen to my side of the story before making your decision irrevocable?"
"Are you disputing Mrs. Bingham's side of the story?"
"No, I am not disputing Mrs. Bingham's side of the story."
"Then I don't see how anything you say will change my decision but you're welcome to try. I'll give you 30 minutes to state your case."
"I believe it will take less than 30 minutes to state my case. My only request is that we be left undisturbed during that time."
"Fair enough, Joseph. Please begin."
"As you probably know from reading my application I come from a very small tribe in Africa. My tribe is so small we never developed the use of last names to distinguish each other. I am the only Joseph of my tribe. We lead a very hard life and we are in constant danger of extinction. We would have long been conquered, wiped out or absorbed by more dominant tribes but for the power of our goddess."
"Excuse me, Joseph. Did you say goddess? I'm under the impression that the members of your tribe are entirely Christian."
"Yes, Dr. Murray. We became Christians at the behest of our colonial masters and their accompanying missionaries. However, we never stopped worshipping our traditional goddess."
"That little item was left out of your application."
"Since your organization is funded by Christian groups I did see fit to omit that fact, Dr. Murray."
"That's enough to disqualify you from our scholarship program even without this scandal, Joseph. I should terminate this interview now."
"Please allow me to finish my allotted 30 minutes, Dr. Murray. It is important that you see and know everything."
"I'm beginning to think we're both wasting our time, Joseph, but if it makes you feel better you may continue." No one could claim Dr. Beatrice Murray wasn't fair, impartial and open minded.
"Our goddess was born a mortal of our tribe about 3,000 years ago. To make a long story short she attained divinity by bathing in a pool of water reserved for gods." Joseph noticed Dr. Murray's obvious smirk but chose to ignore it. Never mind, he thought. She will see and understand everything soon enough. "Our goddess bestows a gift, a talent if you will, on each member of the tribe at birth. She then visits his or her mother in a dream and tells her what gift she has bestowed on her child."
"And what is your little talent, Joseph?"
"I was given the ability to scare away pests," the young man declared.
"That doesn't seem like much of a talent," guffawed Dr. Murray.
"It is quite a gift in an agrarian society such as ours. Think of it: no need for expensive pesticides. No birds or other animals to eat the fruit of your labors. My father rented me out to a rich farmer of another tribe. My mother and I lived on the farm full time and I led a rather privileged existence compared to other members of my tribe. I was allowed to learn reading and writing at a school that was maintained on the farm since my mere presence seemed to discourage the pests."
"So you became a professional scarecrow," said the scholar.
"Yes, that is exactly what I became. In fact, my tribal name translates as Scarecrow. I am known as Joseph only to outsiders."
"This is all very interesting but I still don't see where this is going."
"Patience, Dr. Murray. When I reached puberty the goddess herself visited me again in my own dream. She told me that I had another gift but it had responsibilities attached to it. In order to carry out my responsibilities I had to leave Africa and go to the west. When I told my mother about my dream she said I would never be allowed to leave the farm because my father had grown used to the easy income and the farmer considered me too valuable to allow me to leave. I therefore kept quiet about my new gift and enlisted the aid of Dr. Klein whom I believe you know. I expressed my desire to be educated in the west and he saw my academic potential. He was instrumental in my escape from the farm and my coming to the United States. To return to Africa would be the equivalent of a sentence of life imprisonment on that farm."
"You still haven't told me why you seduced Leona," said Dr. Murray impatiently, "and what does this have to do with your so-called gift?"
.... There is more of this story ...