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As the Winds Blew Past

Author's note:

I wrote this piece keeping in mind the conditions of race relations in this country.

Author's note:

I wrote this piece keeping in mind the conditions of race relations in this country.

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Chapter 6

I was too young to enjoy the taste of freedom, when I had the opportunity to. Before I could understand the beauty of freedom, it was snatched away from me. The very same day, I was snatched from my family too. Not a day went by on that plantation, when I didn’t think of the life my parent were leading, or for all I knew, led. How was their life without me? Could they feel my sorrow from hundreds of miles away, or had they slowly forgotten about me over the years? The questions burned a fire in my heart that never died out and fueled me forward. They allowed me to push through all the times I felt lost, all the scrapes and bruises, and all the heartache I had felt. Those questions allowed me to endure, for I had something to live for.
The life of a slave was grim indeed, but from time to time, a wonderful thing would happen. A slave would earn their freedom. When a slave became too old or too weak to work, Flint would grant them their freedom. There used to be a slave by the name of Henry at the plantation. Henry passed away last year at the age of sixty-five. Henry, when on his death bed, begged Flint to give him his freedom before he died, “I want to die free, master.” Flint replied, “You are going to die soon, what good will your freedom do you now?” “But master, I want to die my own man.” He said. Flint said to him, “you are free.” “But write it master, I want to see it on paper.” Seeing no reason why not, Flint wrote on paper that he was free. Henry held it in his bony quivering hands. He looked at it with a weak smile and cried, “Oh how beautiful, how beautiful it is. Thank the lord, for I am free at last. Massa, May I trouble you for one more wish?” “Yes, name it.” “I would like to be buried with this paper.” Flint agreed to do so.
Henry did not know how to read, but I reckon he knew in his heart he would die free, and that was enough. Soon after, he fell in to a deep lumber and would wake to a better place. There on the bed he laid, with the paper clenched close to his heart, and a single tear on his cheek. He was buried with the paper in his hands. He could roam the fields of heaven free at last. He was free of sorrow and all things evil.
Not all my time on the Flint plantation was woeful and miserable. There were many times on free days, when all of us would just sing and dance, or get together and tell stories. We stretched cowhide over old cheese-boxes and made tambourines. We made musical instruments, and did something the elders taught us, called "patting juba." Both Phillip and George made their own instruments with old broom straws and cow bones. We clapped our hands rhythmically, and sung in melodic harmony. Not anyone of us was louder than the other, not softer. We sung of the beauty of freedom, and we sung of Hope. However horrible our day was or even our week, our pains and our worries would wash away in the beauty of song. Merry making of this fashion was also significant to us, spiritually. Our music was how we could summon the strength to overcome. Master Flint didn’t mind our music making and many times even encouraged it. He said, he enjoyed how it sounded. There was one night, and I did not know if he was drunk or not, but he started to sing along and clap with us! He just walked in to the circle sat down and copied what we were doing. We started laughing and told stories. Some of us stood up and started dancing around the fire, while the food was cooking. The crackling fire seemed to emanate happiness into the obsidian dark night. That evening was made things much different for all of us. After that day, Flint began to treat us much kinder than he did before. It gave us reason to believe for a brighter future ahead of us. The gulf winds embraced us in a comforting familiar manner. When we looked forward, we no longer saw darkness like we did before. At the very end, we saw a sparkle of light.
 

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