Chapter 17: putting mary on the moon
Michael stood up to leave and I followed him down a path that opened up to a rocky ledge. A mosquito buzzed in my ear, distracting me from the beauty of the moonlit valley and plumes of grey smoke rising from hundreds of fires.
“Mary is from a homestead on the far side the valley.” He pointed to a cluster of fires a few miles away. “But now she lives alone at the power plant because she’s unclean.” Michael sighed. “You know, I have often wondered if the Pokot are in fact one of the lost tribes of Israel. I first suspected it when the missionaries told us of Moses and the Israelites crossing the sea. You know this story is a very common children’s story in Pokot from times well before the missionaries came. Small kids are told the story about a man named Morse who separated a great river to bring the nomads to the green hills on the edge of the desert.” He pointed back towards Kapenguria. “And I realized that the Pokot were speaking of the Bible story of Moses. And since then I have found so many similar laws and customs between the Bible and the nomads.” He pointed north. “You know, it’s not so far a walk that way to Jerusalem.” He smiled. “Anyways, one of these ancient customs is the belief that a woman is unclean during her monthly time. They say the blood makes her unclean. And as I told you before, she was circumcised a few years ago. So when Mary had a baby, due to all the cutting and stitching, her skin was not able to hold. And during the birthing, her insides came out with the baby. And the midwives were so horrified and they frantically tried to push it all back inside. But her guts could not be forced back. So she has been bleeding slowly by slowly since that day. And that blood is what you saw in on the seat.” I felt my stomach turn. “She was told by the elders that she was unclean and that she had to live outside the homestead. So now she sits alone in town begging for food while her baby son lives with her husband and his new wife.”