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The Eve of 1619

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

As I awaken from unfamiliar noises which I now know were chains; I heard chattering in the distance of a language that sounded strange.

The noises became louder as I stared off into the darkness trying to see who or what was to approach, my anxiety had me wide-eyed, heartbeat racing, sweat was trickling down the side of my mouth, and I could feel it tracing a pathway on my throat.

I readied my machete with a grip as tight as eyelids when asleep. Confused, I then thought to myself that I had to have known all of the predators within my tribe’s region, what could this be? The noises then stopped, and out of the shadow of darkness walked a man holding chains that did not look like me; skin as white as the stripes of the zebra, how could this be?

Frozen from shock as time seemed to freeze too; I stood there motionless contemplating on what next to do. Out of the darkness another man stepped, then another, and another, I quickly counted around ten. The next man appeared, and I heard the now familiar sounds of clanking chains; eerily mixed in with the struggling cries & screams of my father, sister, brother and mother’s pains.Their screams freed me from my frozen state, I backed myself into a corner to protect my blindsides and once again readied my machete in preparation for a fight. The men gestured to each other forming a semicircle then slowly approached; I swung my machete vigorously with malice intent and accurately sliced two of the men’s throats. This made the other men rethink their approach; I watched my mother & sister continue to weep inconsolably as the two men died on the floor.

I dug my bare feet deeply into the soil fortifying my stance; then I wiped the blood from the blade of my machete and then from both of my hands. Again, I swung the machete with a passionate-zeal as preservation for myself and my enchained family was my only intent; but after desperately swinging, my energy was spent. The men seized this opportunity and all at once they attacked, overwhelmed, they beat me unmercifully then chained my ankles together and my arms behind my back.

The men marched us for many moons without water through parts of the motherland that I had never seen before. I cried tears of anger feeling that I had let my family down, then through a pathway within the bush appear a great building nestled near the seashore.

My awe quickly turned to anguish as I heard the wailings of people becoming louder with each step. We marched closer towards the great building, and what I seen next was even more chilling. Not only were there countless people that looked like me; there were even babies crying uncontrollably. The men whom enchained us seemed reinvigorated as they greeted others who looked like them; two men inspected my mother & sister fondling them both while looking at me with a devilish grin. The men hastily pushed us into a section of the great building where we were doused with water to remove blood & dirt. Then we were moved into another section where the screams became loud enough to make your ears hurt. My sister again began to weep and fell to her knees in fear; the closest man near yanked her up by her chains and dragged her body across the blood-stained floor crippled with fear.

Finally, we reached the spot that produced the bloodcurdling screams. These men were branding us like animals; such a horrific scene. For the first time I thought to myself-what is going on, why is this happening? Then the pain & stench of burning flesh brought me back to this life-altering reality. Again, we were doused with water presumingly to ease the pain & shock. We were each given a small piece of stale bread and forced to squeezed through a small opening in the great buildings wall all of which were made from rock.

What I seen next was the horizon, and a great boat.

My father, stoically silent during this entire ordeal looked up at sky and emphatically summoned in a Swahili dialect “God give us strength!” He then looked at each of us so intensely that no words were needed, but he uttered ever so confidently “I Love each of you,” and his words we all heeded. The men jolted my father, breaking the last jovial moment that as a family we’d all share; we were then rushed onto the great boat which was prepared to take sail. As I walked up the wooden plank a splinter entered the bottom of my foot and I winced in pain; I looked down, then back up and to my left to see the motherland’s shore one final time, lamenting, that I’d never see it again...

One Love

Jason Fletcher


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