MY GRANDFATHER’S STORY
years passed, and my kids grew older until they were old enough for me to tell them about how my grandfather and my mom escaped from being slaves. I remember sitting with my grandfather while he told me about how he escaped to michigan during the summer.
With his cup of tea in his unstable, shaky, pitch black, old, wrinkly black hands captivating the warm, steamy, hot tea. He was sitting in the living room on a torn up couch by himself while we were like bunch of kids waiting for our christmas present to be opened by our parents or waiting around a feast to be open.
It was really early in the morning and we had huge windows that looked right at the ocean blue, glass clear sky like a silky, sleeping lake without any movement in it. We stayed up all night with my grandfather and when the sun come out from trees, like a bird flying to be free from the trees, or to be free from the world. The sun was glowing all shades of reds, oranges and yellows just like a fire in the middle of the night lighting the scene.
I was looking at him sipping out of his now cold tea, and at his wood dry lips being submerged like a tsunami submerging a city. After a while the kids got even more excited and interested in the story, even though their eyes were as red as a rose or even as bloodshot eyes form the tiredness they were in. To stay awake they, went to the kitchen for a snack.
I quietly whispered to my grandfather, “What do you think about them?”
He responded after he took another sip, “Amazing, they are just amazing.”
“They will never know who were their was”, I whispered back.
“I am sure they will know sooner or later because if you would not tell them, their mother will”. Angrily shouting at me.
I calmly replied, “if they will ever see their mom”.
He took another sip to soften his lips, “they will meet her sooner or later.”
I questioned him, “how do you know that they will meet her.”
Tears flowing out of his eyes onto his cheeks like a river flowing on a dried mountain, he calmly said, “she will come to them when she is free.”
Confused, but excited, I shouted, “ok.”
Then the kids got back and they had made popcorn for themselves and for us too. After we finished the popcorn and my grandfather finished his ice cold tea. The kids slept while they were eating then I told my grandfather to stop the story and to complete it tomorrow for the kids.
The next day at night he resumed telling us the rest of the story. The exciting part he told me was that he was travelling on a boat with some other slaves. He sat with a slave called Harriet Jacobs and their navigator was Peg Leg Joe. they had no food or money at all with them. What they didn't know was that Peg Leg Joe was a betrayer.
Peg Leg Joe stood up in the ship and announced to the slaves, “We are supposed to move to a bigger ship.”
One of the slaves shouted back, “That was not the plan! The plan was that you are going to get us to Michigan.”
He cried, “The plan has changed now, deal with it.”
“What a traitor,” I whispered to Harriet Jacobs.
She said nothing nor look at me.
I asked her, “Do you know how to swim?”
She did not say anything but she shook her head up and down.
Confused, scared and worried, the people sat quietly in the boat. I stood up and went to the betrayer Peg Leg Joe, “Where is Michigan from here?”
He snapped, “None of your business, you slave! Go back to your seat.”
I sat right by him so when another slave came over and whispered him a question I was able to overhear that Michigan was in front of us. Then I creeped to Harriet and told her, “Michigan is in front of us and if we did not jump out before we got to the ship we will not be able to escape.”
“Jump where?” she questioned.
“Into the lake.” I answered.
She stayed quiet. Then we went to the ridge of the boat. Peg Leg Joe warned us not to stand, but we jumped.
Then I also remember that after each couple of minutes of telling me the story my grandfather would take a sip of his tea. Then he continued. He told me after hours and hours in the boat, they saw a huge ship and the workers in it helped them to go up the ship. They thought that they were going to Michigan from Missouri, with Peg Leg Joe. But being a betrayer, Pig Leg joe asked the slaves money for the trip to their final destination but no one had any money.
But during the trip back to slavery we both jumped out of the ship and we knew where we would head because I was sitting beside peg leg joe when he told the slave where is michigan. So after we jumped we kept swimming and swimming in the warm beautiful lake until we reached michigan. I asked my grandfather if there were any slave traders in the lake. He gave me a smile and took another sip of his now cold tea. Then he told me that he and Harriet had to be under water without any breath for fifteen minutes so that no one could see them.
After the traders left, they got out of the water and both nearly died because the lack of oxygen. When he got to the safe land, he started looking for his daughter which is my mother. But sadly after days and days of sleepless searching all over Michigan he found nothing. He thought that his daughter was dead, but when he met Harriet afterwards she told him that his daughter was still in the slaves states. It was the biggest relief of his life he told me.
Then he and Harriet lived with each other but they didn't marry. And both of them were abolitionists but Harriet was more powerful than him because she left to Washington to talk to the president at that time which was Abraham Lincoln. But my grandfather stayed in Michigan to search for my mother. The Civil War started between the slave and the free states and there was no sign of my daughter, my grandfather said. But my grandfather never stopped searching for her. And I told him that I will go with him to search for her.