Wednesday, 9 July 2008



The following days were all the same. Kima would wake up early in the dark, eat a bowl of cooked corn, or rice, and gather in the lawn in front of the senzala with the others. They would then walk to the fields, where they would work a long, tiring day under the sun. She gradually learned more of the language of the planters.

On their return, they would always have to take care of all the extra chores in the main house, as well as of their own. Kima became very good at washing clothes by the river, and at grinding corn to make dough. When she was not occupied with these tasks, she would often sit in the kitchen and look out the windows and into the fields, while listening to the sound of Shebeh cooking. Sometimes she would stay in the kitchen long after everyone had gone to sleep, or she would walk outside, gradually getting used to the unwelcoming darkness. In the beginning she had hated the darkness because it reminded her of the lower decks of the ship. But slowly she had started associating the night outside with the stars instead, with the leaves of the trees in the breeze, and with her walks to the river.

She also like the kitchen because the main room was full and loud, and Shebeh had been clear about the fact that she was only borrowing space with them. She liked looking out the window, into the path leading to the senzala and its kapok trees. She liked seeing the comings and goings of women with food, with laundry, of the stable boys taking the horses and mules back for the night.

Her blisters and her whip wound where healing very slowly. It took longer than was normal because every day they would re-open in the sugar cane fields. She was still glad they were out of that boat, and working under the sun. She was grateful for that, and she always made sure she would walk near the back of the column, close to the mules. Sometimes she would try to drift back to the end of the column, so she could walk alongside a mule, and stroke its side while it walked.

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