Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Instructions page 2


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This man reminded Kima of an angry colobus monkey, walking all tense and looking ready to bite you if you came close. But in the surface, he smiled. He smiled while he walked, and he talked smoothly. Kima wondered who he was, and what he was going to do with them. She knew she would have to work as a slave from now on, but she wondered how it would be. None of the slaves had said anything since they had arrived at the port, they had all found their silence during the dark trip across the ocean. She didn't know why, but when the colobus man walked past her, she stood a little bit straighter. The man barely looked at her and moved on. He gave what seemed to be his final instructions to Ghero and then left, trotting up the steps to the arched hall and striding quickly away and into the house.

‘Listen to me now!’ Ghero said loudly, puffing his thin chest, addressing them in Bantu. ‘I will take you to the senzala, where you will live. Four of you will go in each room. Families can live together. You are not allowed to walk out beyond the fence. It is not allowed for you to leave the compound. If you try to leave, you will be shot and killed. Start walking now, this way’ He led them out of the patio and into the path they had followed earlier, this time walking in the opposite direction, into the fields and away from the fence and the main doors. The sky was almost dark and the slaves stumbled many times on loose rocks or holes in the ground.

They arrived in front of a tall, old building and Ghero had them stop. He kept talking as he started opening the shackles and removing the chains.

‘The punishment for entering the main house without been requested is twenty lashes. You'll soon learn how bad it can get if you break the rules. Ask those who are already here if you don't believe me’ He chuckled, and he hit the ground with his stick. ‘The upper floor is where you're likely to find empty rooms, the downstairs area is full with those who came before you. Further down this path you will find the river, where you can wash yourselves and your clothes. Every evening you will be given corn and rice to cook once you return from the fields. That's all you need to know. Tomorrow morning, there will be a bell ringing to wake you up, and you need to be back down here, ready to go to work in the fields, ten minutes after you hear it.’

And without saying another word, he left.

-> Chapter 3


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