The Idol

I traveled to Mozambique following a story about a mysterious ancient figure found in an unexplored cave. My editor had received an email that claimed that a 13 year old shepherd had discovered the cave and inside of it a large god-like figure of a 5 feet tall seated idol.

After a night sleep in town, the 13 year old kid and I climbed to the mouth of the cave. With no effort we found the idol. It was even better than anything I expected. This was not a small figurine but a large statue indeed.

The origin of the figure escaped me. The style didn’t look familiar at all and I couldn’t recognize the period, nor the metal it was made out of. I took a bunch of photos, and left the cave. I wrote my story on the plane back and three months later I was on the cover of the magazine.

As I look at the cover now, there is only one small thing still bugging me. When I think back at the email that my editor got, I clearly remember that it spoke of a seated figure. The idol on the cover next to me was standing up, 10 feet tall, twice as tall as the shepherd had told us.

I went through all the photos we had taken. For hours I compared each and every one of them. I had no doubt about it. Several photos showed that the pose of the idol varied from time to time. So very slightly, but it was definitely different.

I sometimes think about showing all the photos to my editor. I think about the great story this could be. But then I think I about going back to that cave and facing that idol again. I imagine standing there and realizing the idol had moved yet again, and then I decide that some stories are better left untold.

September 4, 2017


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