Excerpt 31

Kak touched the wadded bills to her forehead, chest, left shoulder, and right shoulder, saying, “Amen.” The amen seemed out of place and she quickly followed it with, “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Zamira said. “We have more in common than you might think. West African slaves brought their religion with them to Cuba. The Spanish plantation owners forbade it as pagan. To save their faith, slaves blended in aspects of Catholicism. They linked their spirits to Catholic saints. Their owners saw this and believed they were converting. Santeria means the way of the saints.”

Zamira took the wadded ball of money from the mat. “There was power in the secret,” she said. “It made the slaves strong. Gave them hope. In a way it made them superior to their oppressors. Secrets can do that, can’t they?”

Kak didn’t answer this.

“You keep secrets,” Zamira said. “Don’t you, Kastle?”

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