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Too Survive or Not to Survive
The water trickles from the crack up above hitting me in the face, waking me up. At first I didn't open my eyes. I am home. I am in our hut. It just rained and that's the water. But I cannot deny what my ears hear, the women and children crying. Some men are too, other men try to hide it to be strong for the women and children. I cannot deny what my nose smells; the smell of death is in the air, with the harsh smell of feces and other bodily fluids. It is so putrid, that many get sick adding on to the smell. I open my eyes and see through the darkness. I am not home. I see the others. Some lay there with their eyes closed pretending that they are at home, doing their usual morning rituals. Some like me realize we probably won't ever go back.
I look for my daughter, Adio. There she in is one row down, four people over. I have to lift my head to see her. She is asleep. I am more scared for her, than myself. I am 36, and she is seven. I have lived a short but happy life; she has just begun to live. `
Yesterday, up there, we had been allowed to dance, and she had asked me, if we would see her mother again. I, of course replied yes, but it was obvious she had seen the lie in my face and looked back out towards the sea. I thought back to the last day we had seen my wife and other children. It couldn't have been more than a month ago, but it felt like forever ago. Adio and I went to go pick berries, and she went to another bush out of sight, and after twenty minutes, began to scream. I dropped everything in search of her. It seemed like forever until I found her. She was under a net I tried to get her out, but then, another net fell over me. We were then dragged away. We were taken to a sort of fort. There were more people there. Not all like us, some wearing funny clothes and were white colored. Some of us were helping them. It made me so angry. They spoke a different language too. I finally came to the realization that some of them might look like us, but really they weren’t us.
A few days later we were led to the water. If we were being slow or not pleasing them in any way they would whip us. These whip marks will hurt for many weeks, possibly months. But that’s what they want, to watch us hurt. It gives them a sadistic pleasure to watch us scream and bleed. Thinking back to this day, I know believe that they didn’t whip us in punishment but to show us that they are in control.
I want to revolt against them. Go home, but I can’t, for I am chained to this wet wooden floor. I hear the little hatch open and sunlight spills in blinding some of us. They come around with a pot of gunk “food” that they would scoop out into our hands. Not everyone gets food though. They pick and choose who they want to feed. Then they unchain us and grab their weapons so we cannot fight back.
They lead us up outside. It is such a relief not to be down there. Fresh salt-water air fills my nostrils and it gives me a new hope. My daughter walks over and I pull her close in an embrace. Then begins the happiest part of the day, we all begin to chant and dance. It is almost like being home again.
As many would say, all good things come to an end. This one good aspect of my life came to abrupt halt. We were put into a line and inspected. A pregnant woman was pulled up, then an old man. It went on and on. I stared at the ones who were pulled out. I realized they all had a sort of default. They passed me and with some relief I sighed. Then I noticed that Adio was no longer next to me. I began to panic trying to get her back. A harsh fist made contact with my face then. A whip tore through my soft flesh as they begin throwing the selected few overboard. I watched my daughter being thrown over as she called for me. This crushed me, being too weak to protect my own daughter. I was thrown down and chained back up. My body was freezing all though I knew it was hot outside.
After a long nap, or maybe short a person cannot tell the time of day from under-deck. It has been 45 days since I last was on land. Then I remembered, what had happened earlier in the day, I decided then that dreaming was the only real living I had anymore. I had given up hope. Maybe if I starved myself, I would become weak also and they’d throw me overboard. At least, then I might be with my daughter again.
For the next few days, I ate as little as possible. And all though, I could feel my body healing somewhat from the whipping, I knew that I was weakening. The others were not too concerned; it meant more food for them.
When a white man came the next day, with the same gunk food, I again refused. He tried and tried to shove it down but I refused and just closed my eyes once more to drip back off to sleep. Not too long after he returned, somewhat forcefully, he unchained me and brought me up to the deck. It had been the first of day in a four days I had been up there. No more dancing for me. I was to die and not have any happiness for I could not protect my daughter in her time of need. We met another man and to my surprise they brought me relief. I smiled at them, to their surprise. A couple of men grabbed my arms as to hold me down. I must have been the easiest man to restrain.
As the first stroke bit my not quite healed back, my eyes sprouted with tears. It kept going and with every stroke my wife and Adio’s face strolled through my mind, how I was pathetic in their time of need, but I will not be pathetic in my death. There was one last stroke, as I was set free.