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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - firmly shackled to pillars, shackled, muffling his gut-wrenching cry, the crying baby’s body, soap and bucket of water, blood on your forehead.

His face was bloodied and his eyes were almost swollen shut. Behind, he could feel human flesh rubbing against him. He wanted to turn to take a look at his neighbor behind but he was too restrained by chains to move. Both his hands and feet were firmly shackled to pillars making it impossible for him to move around. He closed his eyes for a moment and opened them again in an effort to rid his eyes of the blood that was dripping over his eyes from a cut on his forehead. He could smell the pong of his own skin. He had lost count of how many days he had gone without a shower. He had been badly beaten over the past few days leaving him with multiple bruises. He could feel dry blood forming tough scales on his skin. He opened his eyes, and with some of the blood off his eyes, he peered ahead. A woman was seated opposite him. Beyond her were hundreds of other slaves. To the right and left was a sea of shackled people. The woman was sobbing. Her feet were shackled but not her hands. She was carrying a baby who suckled eagerly. She was scantily covered. He looked away. Where he came from, a woman was not left in such an indecent state…a nursing mother for that matter. Another wave of rage swept through him like a raging tornado. How did I, Amanze end up here? He asked himself in silence as he stared at the poor woman and her son.

Then the woman’s baby began to cry. She had been smacked a few times already for not getting her baby to stop crying, so she quickly put her hand over his mouth. That seemed to make him cry even more. She pressed her hand tightly over his mouth muffling his gut-wrenching cry. It seemed the baby was determined to win the tussle with his mother. He cried even harder and louder. She kept turning to look at the door to see if the guards were coming. Unaware of the danger hanging over their neck, the poor baby continued his hysterical cry. The more he cried, the more afraid his mother became. She could no longer bear it. She was convinced the guards would soon come back to give her a thorough lashing. Other slaves around said something to her but she could not understand them. They all spoke different languages. A younger looking man a short distance way shouted something in an esoteric language. He was visibly angry at her for not controlling her son. The return of the guards often spelt trouble for people around the woman with the crying baby. The last time one of the white guards walked in, he lashed the woman with a leathery flog and afterwards, he pounced on one of the men around her and gave him a thorough lashing too, just for his sadistic satisfaction.

Tears welled up in her eyes as they yelled at her. Her hands shook in confusion. The excitement seemed to rev up her baby’s crying. He kicked and cried furiously. It was hot in the bowl of the ship where they were held. A dense streak of sweat walked across the crying baby’s body. He wore no clothes. Sweat carved contours through hefty residues of dirt that had accumulated on his skin after several days without a bath. The paths left by the marauding sweat were visible on his skin. Perhaps, the heat was responsible for his incessant crying. Then she heard something outside. She was sure they would soon come back in to give her the same lashing treatment. Out of fear and desperation, she slapped her son across the face. “Mechie onu gi! (Shut your mouth!)” She shouted. As if on cue, the baby lowered his voice. A flood of tears formed around her eyes. She hugged him tightly out of guilt for slapping him and held him to her body. Thankfully, the baby began to suckle again.

Nya I bu onye Igbo? (So you are Igbo?)” Amanze asked her. Excitement jumped into her eyes. “Eye…Ewoo gi na onwe gi bukwa onye Igbo. Arinze Chukwu abiama. (Yes I am Igbo, and you too. Thanks be to out God.)” She answered. Relief was scribbled all over her face. Amanze could not stare directly at her. Her body was bare as were those of other women slaves in the chamber. “I bu onye ebee? (Where are you from?)” She asked him. “I am from Onitsha. How about you?” ‘I am from Obosi.” “I thought so. I heard it in your voice.” A moment of silence ensued. She felt bare all of a sudden. All the while since she was captured, she had been in different holding camps where women and men were held together and most of them were scantily covered. That did not bother her but now that she is seated across from someone who spoke the same language as herself, she suddenly felt the need to cover herself up. She looked down as if concentrating on her suckling son. Amanze made a decisive effort not to look directly at her. “My name is Amanze. What of you?” “My name is Urioma.” “And your son?” “His name is Elozona.”

“Are they going to kill us?” She asked him. “I don’t think so. I wish they were going to, though. We are being shipped to a strange land where we will be slaves; working for the white man until we die.” “And there is no way to escape and return home?” “Not at all. We are currently at sea. It is a mighty sea. No one who goes across comes back. I heard a lot of stories about slavery…I never knew I would end up in the belly of a ship.” Anger swept through him as she considered his condition. “There is so much blood on your forehead,” she pointed out. “I know. I attacked them when they were bringing me onto the ship. I was ready to die than get on the ship.” Then, the door to the chamber was unbolted. The metal latch was noisy. All eyes were fixated on the door for a moment. A guard they had all seen multiple times walked him. He walked around meticulously as if he was in search of something. He focused on the women. Amanze stared at his back. The guard was standing with his back to him as he inspected Urioma. He wished his hands were free. He had a burning urge to drag him down and choke him with his bare hands.

The guard inspected Urioma carefully. Her voluptuous body wore all the signs he was looking for. She stared straight at the floor. Suddenly, he yanked her suckling baby off her hands and dropped him violently into the laps of another woman. “Biko nye nu mu nwa m! (Please give me my child!),” She begged. The guard ignored her plea. She reached out to grab her baby back and he slapped her brutally across the face. He proceeded to unlock the shackles that were tethered to her legs and dragged up on her feet. “Come with me!” He ordered as he dragged her with him. She cried and fought back, reaching for her child. “Ekwensu hapu nya aka! (Devil, leave her alone).” Amanze shouted in boiling rage. The guard turned and stared at him. “You like her right?” He said mockingly. He let go of Urioma for a moment and kicked Amaze in the face. He went further to whip him severally. The other salves looked away in pain. Urioma could no longer take it. She pounced on the guard as hard she could sending him to the ground. One slave managed to get his hands on the guard’s neck while Amanze dug his heel into his neck. Urioma ran over to her son and picked him up. He was crying loudly again.

She closed his mouth with her hand. Amanze and his neighbor began to choke the guard. He managed to wriggle away just as his colleagues walked in, having heard the commotion. The guard was breathing hard. He pummeled Amanze repeatedly. “How dare you Nigger put your hand on me?” He shouted as he punched his mouth, nose and eyes. Hiss colleagues took care of Amaze’s neighbor while he dealt with Amanze. Soon, the commotion stopped. The guard went back to Urioma, took her son off her and threw him sadistically to another female slave. He removed the shackles form the woman’s hands so she could tend to Elozona. He dragged Urioma out of the chamber, resisting the urge to slap and punch her. Urioma cried and fought as she was being dragged away. She looked at the captain who walked in a circle around her.

“Jeffery, I think you made a good choice,” the captain said. His voice was filled with depravity and unbridled desires. He licked his lips appetizingly as he returned to his seat. “I am glad you like her sir,” Jeffery, the guard replied. “Go clean her up,” the captain requested. Obsequiously, Jeffery took Urioma away. He placed her in a bathroom and gave her soap and towel. He locked the door and took a seat outside and waited for her to wash herself. Urioma looked at the soap and bucket of water. She understood what she was meant to do, but the thought of washing herself while her son was dirty; crying in the arms of a stranger seemed unfair to her. A flood of tears filled her eyes as she stared at the soap. She wished her husband had been around to protect her and Elozona when they were taken away.  Reluctantly, she took the soap in her hand and stared angrily at it with more tears streaming down her face.


Written By
Victor Chinoo

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - firmly shackled to pillars, shackled, muffling his gut-wrenching cry, the crying baby’s body, soap and bucket of water, blood on your forehead. An African Literary Blog
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