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Ode To Elya Interview With A Former Slave From The African American Culture Serie Sa


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Recollections of a former slave by Diane Cameron

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Ode To Elya Interview With A Former Slave From The African American Culture Serie Sa

  1. 1. ODE TO ELYA BY DIANE CAMERON © Eddie Bear Publishing INTERVIEW WITH A FORMER SLAVE I rose very very early to go out and warm myself by the sun. The golden rays caressed my neck, arms and legs. I love the way early morning sun feels…it is very gentle on your skin. Almost as if it appeared magically, I saw a beautiful white gazelle drinking water over by the stream and as it ran away, I watched it and watched it until it was completely out of sight. I was so excited about its beauty and the way it moved. It totally captivated my attention. I was mesmerized by my surroundings…everything was so picturesque. The lush green trees, thick plants and huge red flowers were everywhere…. This was my homeland…. Africa…and I felt lucky that I was in such a paradise. I remember blushing when I thought about my soon coming marriage to Elya.
  2. 2. Elya was absolutely the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Rich dark chocolate skin, eyes like diamonds…and when he moved he reminded me of…of…yes… a gazelle….strong and deliberate. Mother and Grandmother went to the village to buy fabric to make my wedding dress. They picked the perfect colors, white and purple….I was so happy. Father and the elders took Elya to a secret place in the forest. It was the custom of my people for a young man soon to wed, to have fellowship with the elders of the village for 7 days as a final initiation before he took a wife. Right over there by the running creek is the place that Elya and I would meet once a week. I was not allowed to talk to him before the wedding…. but; we would meet at our secret place and just stare into each other’s eyes. Once, I dreamed that Elya and I were married and had 6 children….but the odd thing about the dream was each child had red tears in their eyes. I remember the strange way grandmother looked at me when I told her about the dream. I can still recall the very moment life as I knew it changed. I didn’t know at the time, but Elya had been amusing himself by watching me from a distance. He had returned from Council and I imagine he knew I was going to be at our secret place. I remember him calling my name and as I turned to see him………as I turned to look at him… It’s all so confusing now…everything happened so fast…Suddenly there were 3 large men holding him and binding his arms with rope and hitting him. He cried out to me “dowezun.. dowezun” which in our language means run….run….I was filled with terror and forgot which part of my body I used to run…legs….arms….feet…nothing obeyed me…..I felt like stone…I couldn’t talk…I couldn’t move…. And Elya kept screaming “dowezun…dowezun” I remember being too frightened to look back at him….I just remember hearing a loud thud….and Elya’s wail…and even louder loud silence…then he called me no more…… Some men surrounded me and I was snatched….I was taken and put on a large ship with other Africans. We were shackled and stretched out side-by-side like the fish I used to see on display at the village market. Confused and bewildered we endured a long journey on the water sailing for what would seem like forever. I kept thinking that I was going to wake up any moment and the wedding celebration would begin, and this would all be just a bad dream… The ship was dark and cold all the time, and I was always hungry. I cried out for my mother and grandmother night and day both hoping they would and wouldn’t answer me back. Comfort was no longer a benefit, angrily, the ship rocked back and forth over the seas without regard for her passengers. At times the misery was so extreme death would have been welcomed. All the captives on that floating hell were dark like me….but we had come from many villages and the languages were many so there was difficulty communicating, but there was one commonality we all shared…a burning determination to survive. It seemed like an eternity had passed and its odd how even in those kinds of circumstances you can still have faith to believe in God. One night in particular, after sleep had been especially gracious to me, I felt rested for the first time since this happened, I woke early that morning to find the palms of my hand burning like fire, I looked at my hand in amazement, my white and purple wedding cloth was tied across my wrist….To this day, its appearance is a mystery, but the very moment I was aware of its presence …my body became consumed… almost…overcome with emotion
  3. 3. and what happened next is something I will never forget….It was as if the sun came back out…I felt rays of sunshine warming my neck, arms and legs, I closed my eyes and there it was again…the gazelle drinking water from the stream, I opened my eyes and watched mama and grandmother going to the market. I saw father and the other elders walking off with Elya; He looked so proud, so strong and happy. Suddenly, I realized even though I had been removed from my beloved Africa …… Africa had come to me, I smelled Africa and I bathed my nostrils in the pungent perfume of those huge red flowers, this is how red smells, I thought. I pressed my eyelids as tight as I possibly could hoping this would help me hold on to this moment…it didn’t. As the vision was fading, I heard his beloved voice whisper un yin(me) wan nou we which in my language means I love you. Vividly his face appeared before me…..this strong warrior man- child with the smooth dark chocolate skin. I looked at him in the seconds that seemed like hours and I saw diamonds….and tears in Elya’s eyes…His face dimmed before me and I closed my eyes to see if I could find him, but it was in vain…he was gone….forever… My hand cooled but my ears burned hearing his admonishing for he never….never….stopped screaming to me dowezun dowezun. Copyright © Eddie Bear Publishing 2003-2009. All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced or redistributed without written permission from the author Diane Cameron Eddie Bear Publishing © rights reserved.