“Momma! Momma!” the ten year old boy, breathless from running, said as he came through the doorway.
“What is it Batai?” his mother said as she peeled potatoes for dinner.
“I have something to tell you. Did you hear about Mrs. Luma? I heard she is selling bad chickens!”
The mother held a finger to her son’s lips.
“What have I told you about passing along such stories, Batai?”
Batai shrugged his shoulders. “It’s harmless, Momma.”
She motioned for Batai to sit on the stool next to hers.
“Is it? Let me tell you about a hideous thing called the Maccha. The story has been passed throughout our village for generations.”
“What is a Maccha?” Batai asked.
“The Maccha was a listening vine that waited under the earth until it had a reason to come to the surface. On a certain occasion, the vine broke ground outside the house of a young man named Zusa. Zusa loved to tell whatever information passed his ears. Caring not who the stories were about, he told everything to anyone who would listen.
Now the Maccha covered itself in purple and blue flowers when it came above ground. But, its beauty hid the true nature of this vine. It fed not off of the soil, but gossip. The more Zusa spread his brand of ‘truth’, the bigger the Maccha grew. Because Zusa could not control himself, the Maccha overran the village and destroyed it.”
Batai stood up and laughed. “But Momma, this is an old washwoman’s tale. We are Christians now. We believe in these things no longer.”
The mother stared straight into her son’s eyes.
“Then, consider it a parable like the ones Jesus told. The Maccha is represented by the words that roll off your tongue. They may seem harmless but, continuing the gossip that you hear spreads the Maccha. Once it has infected everyone with its evil, lives are destroyed beyond repair. All of this can come from your little mouth.”
She touched his lips again with her finger. Batai scratched his head of kinky black hair.
“I didn’t think I was hurting people,” he said.
“Beware Batai. God warns us that the tongue is small, but its evil spreads far and wide like the Maccha. So, Son, close your ears to the lies that others tell you. Stop your ‘harmless’ fun before someone gets hurt.”
She handed him a coin from her apron pocket. “Go and apologize to Mrs. Luma for the gossip that you have been passing around. While you are there, buy one of her chickens for dinner.”
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6, NIV)
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