Sold!

Peering around, I try to make out where we are.

This cage is longer than the first, a pale, unusual dust coating the floor. The bars reach high, all the way to the ceiling and are dug in sturdily to the dry, sandy floor. Across the other side of the little square in front of the cage is another cage, only this time it is filled with captured African men. They look just as worried and anxious as we must appear.

The square itself is not particularly busy yet, but something is about to happen. Magnificent stalls are being set up, each proposing to sell a new and wonderful attractive range of goods.

It was similar to the markets I sometimes had to visit when I was in Africa.

Some stalls are completely set up already while others are barely starting. Various other stalls dotted around the open square fill all the stages in between.

In the middle of the square is a display place. A wooden box stands on its smaller end on the raised area, a book resting on the slanted top. Steps lead up to the unsteady platform, rough and well worn. Sand and dirt blow gently across the top of the platform, creating a small, twirling exhibit.

Wondering what time it is, I look at the position of the sun in the sky. It is hanging low, but after observing it for a while, I learn that it was rising and, therefore, early morning.

It feels strange to finally know what time it is again. When we were all prisoners below the floor of the canoe house, time was unforgiving and resentful. We could never tell what time it was due to the lack of light overhead. There were more important things to ponder while we were constricted anyway.

Eventually, the cages are filled with more and more captured Africans and the market square becomes busier and busier.

After a long time of anxious waiting, a crowd is gathered around the podium in the centre of the square.

Climbing painfully slowly and wheezing the entire time, the fancily dressed man who put the tar, oil and forced me to drink the warmth in a bottle ascends the few steps leading to the platform. Once giving a quick speech, he commands someone who is not dressed as well as he to ‘bring out some of the slaves’.

Dragged roughly, I am taken out in a chain as one of the first captured Africans. Wincing in pain, I have no choice but to follow where the chain is pulled.

I am chosen to stand on the stage first. Trying to move away from the mokoyo does not work; he is far too strong. Knowing I cannot run away is almost as bad as knowing I am doomed if I do go up onto the platform.

Once led up the few splintering steps, I am faced with a mass of white men. Each one of them eyeing me up, I feel scared knowing I cannot shy away from their gaze.

The stout mokoyo standing behind the special wooden box I saw earlier reads something carefully from the book before raising his head to speak. “Here is a fine wench! Brought from Africa a few days ago, she is skilled at sewing and cooking. This one would make a fine house maid for your lovely home.”

After that he invites people onto the stage to inspect me.

I am prodded, poked, plucked and peered at closely. I find it uncomfortable and shaming to stand here, forced to let people inspect me like I am some sort of doll.

After what seems like an eternity, the plump mokoyo standing next to the wooden box next to me tells the other white men to stop and return to the crowd. Reluctantly, they seem to follow his wishes and one by one they disappear into the crowd again.

Now the mokoyo standing next to me is talking really quickly. In fact, so quickly that I cannot follow a single word he says.

Looking out into the faceless crowd, I scrunch my eyes to protect them from the glaring sun in the background. White men from the crowd start to raise their hands and nod their heads in turn. Soon enough I realise that they are responding to whatever the mokoyo standing next to me is saying.

“Sold, to the man at the back on the wagon!” Exclaims the white man next to me so suddenly that it startles me.

I am dragged off the raised are once more and taken to the white man sitting on the top of a huge box with wheels. Assuming this is the man who has bought me, my idea is proven to be correct when I am handed over by the chains constricting my neck and wrists.

The End

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