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Ode to Elya - Interview With a Former Slave - From the African American Culture Series

Ode to Elya - Interview With a Former Slave - From the African American Culture Series

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Published by Diane Cameron
I would like to think the inspiration for this story came direct to me from the heart of one whom I never had a chance to meet in person. I feel blessed that they chose me as the writer who would be sensitive enough to their pain to write about it.
I would like to think the inspiration for this story came direct to me from the heart of one whom I never had a chance to meet in person. I feel blessed that they chose me as the writer who would be sensitive enough to their pain to write about it.

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Published by: Diane Cameron on Dec 13, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/05/2011

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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 myneck, 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 bythe 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 myattention. I was mesmerized by my surroundings…everything was so picturesque.The lush green trees, thick plants and huge red flowers were everywhere…. This was myhomeland. Africa…and I felt lucky that I was in such a paradise. I remember blushingwhen I thought about my soon coming marriage to Elya.
 
Elya was absolutely the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Rich dark chocolate skin, eyeslike diamonds…and when he moved he reminded me ofof…yes… a gazelle….strong anddeliberate. Mother and Grandmother went to the village to buy fabric to make my weddingdress. They picked the perfect colors, white and purple….I was so happy. Father and theelders took Elya to a secret place in the forest. It was the custom of my people for a youngman soon to wed, to have fellowship with the elders of the village for 7 days as a finalinitiation before he took a wife. Right over there by the running creek is the place that Elyaand I would meet once a week.I was not allowed to talk to him before the wedding…. but; we would meet at our secretplace and just stare into each other’s eyes. Once, I dreamed that Elya and I were marriedand had 6 children….but the odd thing about the dream was each child had red tears intheir eyes. I remember the strange way grandmother looked at me when I told her aboutthe dream.I can still recall the very moment life as I knew it changed. I didn’t know at the time, butElya had been amusing himself by watching me from a distance. He had returned fromCouncil and I imagine he knew I was going to be at our secret place. I remember himcalling my name and as I turned to see him……as I turned to look at him…It’s all so confusing noweverything happened so fast…Suddenly there were 3 large menholding 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 forgotwhich part of my body I used to run…legs….arms….feet…nothing obeyed me…..I felt likestone…I couldn’t talk…I couldn’t move. And Elya kept screaming “dowezun…dowezun” Iremember being too frightened to look back at him….I just remember hearing a loudthud….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 withother Africans. We were shackled and stretched out side-by-side like the fish I used to seeon display at the village market. Confused and bewildered we endured a long journey onthe water sailing for what would seem like forever. I kept thinking that I was going to wakeup any moment and the wedding celebration would begin, and this would all be just a baddream… The ship was dark and cold all the time, and I was always hungry. I cried out formy mother and grandmother night and day both hoping they would and wouldn’t answerme back. Comfort was no longer a benefit, angrily, the ship rocked back and forth over theseas without regard for her passengers. At times the misery was so extreme death wouldhave been welcomed.All the captives on that floating hell were dark like me….but we had come from manyvillages and the languages were many so there was difficulty communicating, but there wasone commonality we all shared…a burning determination to survive. It seemed like aneternity had passed and its odd how even in those kinds of circumstances you can still havefaith to believe in God.One night in particular, after sleep had been especially gracious to me, I felt rested for thefirst time since this happened, I woke early that morning to find the palms of my handburning like fire, I looked at my hand in amazement, my white and purple wedding clothwas tied across my wrist….To this day, its appearance is a mystery, but the very moment Iwas aware of its presence …my body became consumed… almost…overcome with emotion

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