When a man is reincarnated into the mythical monitor lizard called A-MAK

September 22, 2014

They came during the half moon. Orpuk has a way of climbing over the high wire fence without stirring the dogs. He is the only man I know who can do this. Many villagers don’t consider Orpuk and his kind humans – they call them, the Orang Bunyan…..as they have the power of invisibility.

To me. Orpuk has always been flesh and bone. Whenever he visits. He just squats on the bonnet of my land cruiser for hours. Never says a word. Never makes a sound. He just squats there quietly…contently with his shadow. Together they make the alphabet L in the cast of the moon beam. When I see him. Orpuk breaks out in a smile and hands me a bunch of leafs from the great mother of trees deep in the jungle. I put one beneath my tongue. It stays there as my second tongue.

Soon I feel a buzz. He puts another leaf in my mouth. This the tribesmen believe will reveal my true spirit – the magic leafs will give me strength, thoughts will acquire speed and my spirit will soar like an eagle.

I get into my “kip.” Its just a string underwear made out of hide with a flap of leather to cover my dick. When I enter the courtyard the rest of the braves are decked in my Manchester United T shirts. That’s how it is with tribesmen – they don’t have any concept of ownership….they take whatever they want. I don’t mind. One of them is wearing my football shorts over his head.

A tall brave approaches me, he spits on each side of my cheek and smears beetroot paste creating a menacing V shaped mask. The others chant moving with wavering palms like serpents around me. They’re weaving a spell to make me invisible like them – when they’re done. The leader lets out a shriek and without a word….. the pack is off.

I take my position behind Orpuk and his son, Noon. We run in single file to hide our numbers. Each man armed with a spear and bow and a fist full of poisoned tipped arrows. The younger ones as spotter with their mini blowpipes sweeping way ahead.

From time to time, the pack will stop….. suddenly Orpuk will stand erect and sniff the night air, his eyes say, ‘they are nearby by the river’– we are off again. No one ever says a word. Like birds flying in formation. Everyone seems to instinctively know their place in the pack. This is the killing time….the quickening.

Someone hisses like cobra. The pack begins to fan out in a tight crescent shape. We’re walking through tall reeds. I can feel the grass tips stinging me, they’re sharp as needles. Their edges cutting my flesh like razors. I push the pain out of my mind. The air smells of musk. The boars must be nearby.

Orpuk mimics a cry of an owl. The braves throw down their spears and bow and take out their daggers. One of them lunges towards a boar that’s just broken away in a clearing and wrestles him down. A dance of glints as the blades catch the half moonlight. One blink. Maybe two. They’re all dead.

Orpuk flashes a smile at me as he begins to skin the hogs. He’s done it so many times, he doesn’t even need to look at his hands. It’s as if his hands have a mind of their own. Soon we are off again – each man hauling a leaf wrapped slab of meat tied with reed roots. We are in single file again running alongside the riverbank towards the half moon.

I can’t carry it and run at the same time. Orpuk signals the braves to free me of the load – I can just about keep up.

Soon the tribe arrives. The rest of the tribe have been expecting them – The shaman had foretold their arrival on the half moon. A fire burns with lashings of hypnotic Kdu leafs. He hands Orpuk a vessel fashioned from coconut halves flavored with star aniseed – its a white liquid that taste like liqourie and stale 100 plus. When it’s my turn. I take two gulps. Orpuk puts three more leafs in my mouth – I chew slowly and soon one of the braves begin to go beat his chest with a flapping action. The rest start to follow. They all jump up and down thrusting their spears in the night sky. The shadows they create remind me of light sliced into ribbons. Some of the braves leap over the pyre. As they emerge from the flames. They writhe in pain mixed with ecstasy rolling their smoking bodies in the cool of the mud. Most prefer to dance around the fire. Like moths, being licked by a savage tongue of light and when they can no longer bear it any longer – they break away with a deep “uuuuuuuumhhh!” While the rest laugh. While the women thrust their breast out with each break out to acknowledge their bravery. Another brave dances to the fire. Another breaks out. And through the night this gyre would turn without end.

Everything seems almost to be slaved to this hypnotic ryhthm of the night – the younger girls in the tribe beat bamboo staves together, they add nuance to the rhythm of the night – they stand in the shadows alongside old toothless women who guard over them like old foxes. They can never come near the fire. It’s forbidden.

I see. But I see beyond. Time and shapes seem fluid. They seem congealed…compressed as I sink deeper….deeper and deeper into a thick resonance like amber moving ever so slowly that it’s still – this hypnotic rhythm bears so deep within me that I find myself wondering whether it’s even me. Or something imagined. Then Shaman comes over. He chants into my ears. Before he disappears. He blows a powdery substance into my face. The throbbing now begins to get more violent. I begin to cough violently as an indescribable fire begins to consume me from within. The braves seize my arms and legs. They tie me down with vines. One of them puts a stick in my mouth to stop me from biting my tongue – whole jungle is swirling around me. My eyes turn white as I begin to convulse. They chant A-mak, A-mak, A-mak.

Suddenly silence….I now see the world through night vision goggles. The perspective is low, as if I am crawling on the ground.

I have been reincarnated into the mythical albino monitor lizard.

A-MAK……hoi….A-MAK….the whole tribe is an a frenzy as they make a circle around me….after that the world switches off. All I remember is the perpetual swaying to the sound of this hypnotic ryhthm as it courses relentlessly through my being; the mysterious flicker of the fire; the languorous shadows that seem always to have a life of its own….the heat of the flames as they lick bare flesh.

And all through this layered thickness of primal consciousness. I am falling…falling like some rock cast into a cavern….sinking deeper and deeper across the ocean of time. Across the many layers of sights and sounds that all seems so alien….yet strangely familiar.

A-mak, A-mak, A-mak, A-mak.

I wake up somewhere in the Western terraces of my plantation. I am caked in mud. There is blood running down by knee caps. I remember nothing. Not even my name. And then it comes to me very slowly. Its a brand new day.

I am a man again…..I am a man again.

I wonder how I got here. I look frantically for any sign of my footprints. There are none….except the prints of a giant monitor lizard.

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