The Tale of a Slave Family.

February 26, 2017 Ramya M

From the small window in my kitchen, I can see the wind twisting Mr Mark’s shirt. The dark clouds are moving towards the house. The smell of wet sand is filling the air and I can hear the windows somewhere on upper floors banging against its frame. I look at the clock hanging on the wall. It’s old and the cuckoo no longer does its job. I don’t know what date is it today but it’s time for Mr Mark’s dinner.

 

The last many generations of my forebears have served their entire life working for Mr Mark’s family; me and my cousins, we all live in the basement with our uncles and aunts. Father tells us that our ancestors were sold to Mr Mark’s family sometime in 1820’s. The family has grown big over the decades within itself and the last new slave from outside was my great grandma. Mr Mark’s family is big and to feed the entire family for dinner, we start our work in the noon. We divide our work, the gals prepare the food with my mother. Aunts, uncles and my big brothers, they go to the plantation to work with Mr Mark’s sons. I was born very weak, mother says my muscles can’t take the load. So I stay back with the gals and do the household chores. 

 

I must run and bring the clothes inside before it is drenched in the rain, but if I leave, the steak might get overcooked by the time I am back. Mr Mark is very particular about his steak and I don’t want to take my chances. Last time, he beat me black and blue; the wounds of the burns from his cigar still sends reminders when I pour water on my back. We may have thick black skin but nothing works when white masters are displeased. No, I don’t want to look like a nightmare at cousin Mary and cousin Theodore’s wedding. Cousin Mary has asked me to be the godfather of her child and I should be looking my best. 

 

I looked around and saw Jenny peeling carrots. Jenny is uncle Watson’s daughter with Aunt Miranda. Mother says I can marry Jenny when we grow older. 

 

“Jenny, stop the peeling woman and go get the clothes from outside. It is going to rain.”

“Ok Maxis”

 

I watched her leave and after few seconds brought my attention back to the steak. When it reached its desired perfection, I carefully placed it onto the plate with potato fries and freshly baked bread. I walked towards the big dining room where Mr Mark was having his soup. I paused and quietly stood behind the half open door to measure my timings. I saw something in Mr.Mark’s hand.

 

I had seen something similar in a visitor’s hand once; the only visitor I had ever seen in this house. This house is also the only house I have ever seen. We are not allowed to step beyond the plantation. Everything is grown on the farm and my aunts, Elda and Sofie, stitch all our clothes. We have often heard and seen new things in the house but we dare not touch them nor question. There is always strict supervision, except for when we are in the basement.

 

The thing in Mr.Mark’s hand was a tiny metal with what looked like a glass top. I peeped out further to see more clearly. It seemed like he was watching a film on it. I have seen one film and that was with Mr Mark’s granddaughter, my favourite person in the house. She is my age and is confined to a wheelchair. She had sneaked me inside her room and played the film on a box kept on top of her table. It was called Charlie Chaplin and I had laughed so much watching it.

 

This here was different. It had colour, I could see what the men and the ladies were wearing. They showed a white big house and two men standing in front. One looked like me, black, almost bald but with slight curls. He is addressing someone and pointing his hands to a red…no orange haired old looking man. 

 

Suddenly the little metal thing makes a shrilling noise and the video stops and my master brings it to his ears.

“Hello. ya, I was just watching it on TV. Trump finally won.”


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