Chapter 19: It's Not easy being green
Michael’s polo shirt and khakis were spattered with blood. He was wearing the same outfit he had worn when I met him three years ago in the college cafeteria. In a vivid moment of clarity I saw Michael Kimpur: Michael, the man who was educated by American missionaries, and Kimpur, the Pokot boy who was born in a mud hut. He was a man who travels not just between continents, but back and forth through time, from pizza to blood soup, wooden church pews to mountainside bonfires. And somehow I had fallen into his time machine.
“Now it’s time to paint you,” Michael said calmly. He handed me the spear. “It was decided that from now on your Pokot name will be Natun, meaning Lion, because they think your hair looks like a lion’s main.” He said running his fingers through my curly hair. “And it sounds like Nathan so it will be easy for you to remember.” He smiled.
“Natun,” I said, gripping the spear, the goat’s wet, veiny intestines at my feet.
“Natun. Good name. Strong,” Keu said.
“Okay, now for the painting part. We need you to strip down to your underwear and cut the stomach open,” Michael said, patting me on the back. “Don’t worry, buddy. We are almost finished.”
I stood in my boxers and white sandals as Michael once again put his hand over mine. And together we pushed the spear through the goat’s white stomach. Green feces spilled through the punctured organ. That’s when I realized, there wasn’t going to be any paint.
I felt Michael’s hand on my naked shoulder. “If I said you were going to be covered in goat poop, you would have never come. And it is important the elders know you are committed to us one hundred percent.”
An old man took a handful of green feces and slapped the grassy soup against my chest. As the acrid smell of grass and bile enveloped me, I closed my eyes and thought, So this is how I die, in plaid boxers, covered in goat shit.
I felt Michael’s cupped hands run up and down my left leg and handfuls of mushed feces rolling down my calf. I tried to pull my lips into my mouth as an old man painted my forehead with his index finger. My nose was assaulted by the smell of warm vomit and lawn clippings.
“Don’t worry,” Michael said to me. “It won’t hurt you.” I looked down at him. He smiled at me as he tossed a clump into his mouth.
“I’m gonna die out here,” I said to Michael. “And it’s gonna be your fault.”
“No. You won’t die,” Michael chuckled, a bit of grass stuck to his front tooth. “You are a Pokot now and Pokot don’t so die easily.”
Soon Keu and Michael were down to their underwear as the elders began covering them with feces.