THE TEARS OF A SLAVE - Episode 2

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - satisfied his nauseating desires, watched the poor boy cry for his mother, slapped her back into submission, to hush the slaves back to the holding Chamber, deckhands went flying, white, the ship arrived in Jamaica , slaves, Whiteman.


                                                                

She knew she had no choice, so she went on and took a grueling bath. For each handful of water she poured on herself, she cried almost an equal amount of tears. When the door finally opened, she stood in front of Jeffery. She was clad in a white robe. He signaled that she should come with him. She felt awkward in the outfit, but that was the least of her worries. She could not stop thinking of her son. Jeffery took her to a room. The bed was wide and soft. There were drinks in bottles all over the table…and food too. Soon after Jeffery had left, Captain Rufus Vernon walked in. “Get something to eat Nigger,” he said, pointing at the food on the table. She had not eaten anything decent in a while, yet she had no appetite. The thought of her son was weighing down on her mind. “I said eat something woman!” He said authoritatively, pointing at the food. She could tell he’d be angrier if she did not do as he ordered. She took a piece of bread and some fried egg and began to bite on them. She took a few more slices while Vernon undressed slowly. He gawked at her while he undressed.

Soon, he ordered her to bed and yanked off her robe. How did I get here? How did I become a slave? Why would they do these things to us? God please keep my child? She could not stop crying as numerous thoughts flitted through her mind, while Vernon rabidly satisfied his nauseating desires. “Don’t send her back to the chamber yet,” Vernon ordered Jeffery when he was through. “You should keep her in the quarters. Have her kept in a room for me. I would like to visit with her a few more times,” he directed. “Yes sir!” Jeffery acquiesced sycophantly. “But she has a child who is in there sir,” Jeffery mentioned just as he was about to take Urioma away. “Who cares? He is likely to die before we get home anyway. Leave the child there and keep her in the quarters for me.” “I will do that sir.” He took Urioma away. At first she thought she was being returned to the chamber. She was eager to see Elozona again. Then, they took her to another room and locked her away. “Bikonunu! Bikonu emena m ihe a. Biko kpotara mu nwam! Onye ga enye nwam ara? Bikonu kpotara mu nwa m. (Please! Please don’t do this to me. Please bring my child to me. Who will breast-feed my child? Please bring my child to me),” she implored Jeffery, but he understood noting that she said. She lay on the bed and cried non-stop.

Inside the chamber Elozona cried uncontrollably for his mother. The lady looking after him was a younger girl who had never had a child before. She closed his mouth, slapped him, and held him to herself in an attempt to stop the crying but Elozona would have none of it. Another woman who was breast-feeding a distance away asked for him. She too could not hold back tears as she watched the poor boy cry for his mother. She signaled that the young lady should pass him down. It was difficult because of the shackles, but they managed to pass Elozona from one slave to another until he reached the woman. As soon as she held him closer, he began to suckle. The woman’s eyes were teary as she watched him. She had handed her own child to another woman momentarily. Amanze thought of his own sons at home. There were three of them. The youngest was born just weeks before he was captured by slave traders. I wonder how they are doing, he thought as he watched Elozona suckle ravenously.

Later that night Vernon ordered another course of Urioma. This time, she stayed in his room until morning. The same routine continued for the next week as the ship slowly traveled to North America. One morning, Vernon opened his drawer and took out a picture of his family. His beautiful wife and two girls smiled brightly in the picture. Urioma was getting dressed. She noticed he was looking at something. She quickly got into her robe and went closer. Vernon had become less cruel over the past few days. She realized that those must be his family. With tears in her eyes, she pointed at Vernon’s younger daughter. Then, she pointed at herself and then in the direction where she believed the slave holding chamber was located. Vernon stared at her trying to work out wat she was trying to say.

Then he remembered that Jeffery had told him that Urioma had a child. He sent for Jeffery. “Is this woman’s child still alive?” He asked when Jeffery arrived. “Yes sir.” “How do you know?” “Sir, we have not thrown the body of a dead baby overboard since she was taken out of the holding chamber,” Jeffery explained. “Has she been able to see her baby since then?” “No sir.” “Okay, go bring her baby out of the chamber and let her be with her child.” “Okay sir.” Take her to her room and bring her child to her.” “I will do that sir.” “Nwa m…nwa m oma (My child…my lovely child),” she shouted when Elozona was handed to her. Elozona smiled broadly and returned his mother’s warm hug.

Some days later, captain Rufus sized his new lady up. She had full lips, broad, bright eyes and a curvaceous body. “You have good eyes Jeffery,” he enthused. “Thank you sir,” he replied grinning. “You can have the other one for some time before you return her to the chamber.” “Thank you sir!”

Jeffery sent the new girl to the wash room before taking her to Rufus’ quarters. As soon as he had left her in the captain’s quarters, he dashed to the little room where Urioma was being kept. He took her to his room, took Elozona and placed him on the floor after which he descended on Urioma. Elozona cried persistently for his mother who was left broken as tears drenched her face. Each time she wanted to break free to pick her son up, Jeffery slapped her back into submission. When he was finished, he jumped back to his feet with a sinister grin on his face. She was his to keep until the ship docked in Louisiana. He carefully locked the door behind him leaving Urioma and Elozona inside. She sprung to her feet and lifted Elozona into her comforting arms.

Soon, a storm appeared on the horizon. “The approaching storm is not looking friendly at all,” Rufus announced. He ordered his men to be on red alert in case they were hit hard enough by the storm. Shortly afterwards, they were buffeted by feisty gale winds that tore through the sails. The ship dangled and tilted as the deckhands rallied to steady it. “We need some of them niggers down there to give us a hand,” Rufus ordered as death stared them in the eye. The waves rose several feet high and crashed back down with ferocious anger. The slaves in the holding chamber could tell that something terrible was happening. They were not quite sure whether to be afraid or happy. They could not tell how far off they were from land, so some of them hoped that the ship would capsize so they could swim back to land.

The door flew open and Jeffery rushed in with another man. They unlocked the shackles on some slaves including Amanze and took them up to the deck. They hurriedly instructed them to help steady the sails. Stunned, they responded as best as they could. They had been careful to select some of the strongest slaves. With their help, they were able to ride the storm without capsizing. As soon as the storm was over, they began to hush the slaves back to the holding Chamber. Amanze was not ready to return to the dungeon below deck. He grabbed Jeffery by the hand and knocked his gun away. Before Jeffery could respond, Amanze twisted his hand and broke it. Quickly, he took hold of his neck and broke it. He was a strong and heavily built man. Not even the sufferings of the past few weeks had weakened him. He lifted Jeffery and threw him over board. Before the next deckhand could respond, Amanze ran through a door leading to the ship staff quarters.

The other slaves attacked the deckhands around them as if on cue. Two more deckhands went flying into the cold, violent Atlantic sea. A sentry at the top level observed the chaos and sounded an alarm. One of the slaves opened the door to the holding chamber. He grabbed the heavy keys from one of the men they had killed and began to unlock the shackles on other slaves. They were driven by raw adrenalin and impulse. More men came running up to the deck with guns in hand. They fired at every slave on sight. Amanze took a bullet in the leg, yet he kept going. He grabbed his shooter by the hand and took the gun off him. Not knowing how to operate the gun, he grabbed his neck and strangled him. He continued to look for Urioma. Rufus ordered his men to shoot on sight and they responded accordingly. Amaze was losing blood quickly, but he kept going, rummaging each room. Soon, he heard the cry of a baby. He took a metal bar he found lying around and smashed the door open.

Obu gini ne eme? (What is happening?)” Urioma asked him. “Come with me. We can kill them all and take over this boat,” he answered hurriedly. She followed him with Elozona latching on her back. They ran towards the deck. Not aware of how many whites they were on the ship, they tore open every room and lynched every man they found. Soon, there were more gunshots. More slaves were gunned down, forcing them to retreat towards the holding chamber. Amaze told Urioma to stay closer to him. He used the metal bar to kill three other men before taking another shot, which grazed his belly. “You are bleeding a lot Amanze. Don’t you think you should stop? They have guns…it is no use, please stop,” she pleaded with him. “I am prepared to die. I will not be taken a slave by any man; not even the Whiteman,” he declared. He found an open door and ducked inside with Urioma who placed her hand over Elozona’s mouth. The chaos had left him terrified, so he was crying profusely.

They heard more gunshots, followed by cries; agonizing cries as more slaves were gunned down. They remained quiet, unaware of where they were and what would become their fate. Then, they heard a loud sound. Amanze looked through the window and saw another ship coming straight at them. “There is another ship coming towards us,” he told Urioma. “Who knows? Maybe we could jump onto the other boat for safety.” “But they are all Whiteman’s boat. We are not safe anywhere.” “Maybe there some good white men out there who would not take us as slaves. The white preacher in my town said that to us. We have to take our chances. I don’t want to be a slave. Never!!!” 

They heard the men on the oncoming ship say something to the men on their boat. They were shouting frantically. “I told you…they are all the same, Urioma pointed out. But we don’t know what they are saying,” Amanze insisted. Soon, men from the second ship were jumping onto their ship. They saw men putting chains around the arms of their white captors. Amanze had lost a lot of blood. He was tired by now. With Urioma’s help, they emerged from their hiding place. Soon, the men from the new ship began to unshackle the slaves. They quickly offered whatever treatment they could to the injured slaves. A few weeks later, the ship arrived in Jamaica where the slaves were freed. The men from the second boat were members of Her Majesty’s army that patrolled the Atlantic Ocean, enforcing the abolition of slave trade.

One evening he walked along the beach not far from his new home - a small wooden house typical of most homes in the area. The sun was fading from the horizon as the tides returned. He felt the cold water as his feet were temporarily submerged. Ahead, he could see them. She smiled to the little boy who smiled back at her. He was running energetically along the shoreline, relishing the cool breeze and the presence of his loving mother. “That’s papa!” He shouted as soon as he sighted Amanze galloping down the beach.

He ran towards him beaming with smiles. Soon, he was within his reach and he lifted him up in the air and placed him on his shoulder. “You are taller than papa now,” he told him. “Can you see me mama? I am taller than both you and papa,” he shouted. “That is good Elozona. Our prayer is that you grow taller than us; become more than we are when you are old enough,” she replied with a smile. She threw her hand around his waist and squinted up at him with a rich, blissful smile. “How was work today Amanze?” “Work was good, but what is even better is being with you two.” Her pregnancy was glaringly visible. “How is the one inside there doing?” Amanze asked her. “Good. He is getting ready to come out. I can feel him kicking at the doors of my stomach.”

“Thanks be to God he will not be born a slave,” Amanze said. “Thanks to God that he will be born at all. We both could have died on that boat.” “You are right.” They walked in silence for a moment, savoring the beauty around them. “I miss home sometimes,” she said. “Me too. I often wonder what life back there is like today. I wish I could find a way back. To see my family …everyone.” “It makes me sad sometimes, but what can we do?” She asked rhetorically. “Sometimes, I get angry.” “Angry at the white man who ripped us away from home?” She asked. “Not just the Whiteman. I get mad at our brothers who sold us to them.” “Yes…me too! Maybe someday we will find a way back home.” “I hope so. I really hope so.” He took her hand as they walked quietly with no other word spoken between them. Each of them wondered what life back home might be as they strolled along the shores.

THE END

Written By:

Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: THE TEARS OF A SLAVE - Episode 2
THE TEARS OF A SLAVE - Episode 2
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - satisfied his nauseating desires, watched the poor boy cry for his mother, slapped her back into submission, to hush the slaves back to the holding Chamber, deckhands went flying, white, the ship arrived in Jamaica , slaves, Whiteman.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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