Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Chapter 3 - Senzala


It was a tall building, painted a faded pink and its walls were scarred with cracks. Older than the house with the patio, it had long blue framed windows, and a tiled roof. Kima could not see the fields around them any more, but she heard a flock of birds calling in shrill voices as they flew past.

The slaves looked around them and at each other, nobody saying anything. Two families grouped together, a man holding his wife and two young brothers standing close to each other. Eventually, the silence was broken by soft talk, with those in groups talking hesitantly to each other, asking quiet questions on what to do next, and they soon started to walk to the old steps that led to second floor of the pink building.

Kima stayed still, looking at them. The building in front of her seemed to her like a big monster with blue teeth and a cracked hide. She looked at the wooden door leading to the first floor rooms: it was a mouldy, old door. She stood still in the night.

The song of the crickets grew louder as the darkness around her made the empty spaces grow, separating her from the main house, stretching the fields and moving everything away, isolating her. The tall trees and the senzala where small islands of reality that seemed too far away. The path they had followed earlier was also surrounded by darkness, she could see a few meters of it and then it drifted into nothing. She felt very small and she thought anything could come out of the dark at any time. She knew that that which was beyond her sight was not the same as what had been there before.

Her breath became short and wheezing, and she held a hand against her chest. A woman walked past her, carrying a bundle of wet clothes, rushing into the building. She didn't look at Kima.

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