Thursday, October 28, 2010


March 5, 1822

My name is Malik; I work in New York city as a slave in 1822. I am 33 years old. I am miserable. This is not life, it’s hell. We arrived this morning in a ship, I was dying of hunger. The voyage was horrible; my wife got sick and was thrown off board because the captain was scared that all the slaves would get sick. This sea passage between Africa and America is called the Middle Passage. Some more slaves got thrown off board, because they were going crazy. The voyage was really bad, in the beginning we were squeezed all together in the bottom of the ship but after a couple weeks some slaves jumped off board so there was enough space for everyone. When I finally got here the captain’s men took me to the slave market to be sold in America which is called the triangle trade. I got soled to a white family and I need to work a really long time. I get almost no money and I will hardly survive. When I got to the house, it was amazing. They had a huge garden with a playground for the kids; they have two kids a boy and a girl, Jessica and Jack. I went into the house it was the biggest house I ever seen on 29 east 4th street in New York with chandeliers, a big kitchen, the rooms were huge. But then he showed me my room, it was in the basement I saw rats and a bed made out of with a pillow that was as hard as a stone. I took off the pillow case and it was stones. When I lay down on my bed he said:
 Chained to the hatch.
“Are you crazy, you n*****”
Then he took a whip and started hitting me…. I fainted. 
March 6 1822

I woke at about 4:30 AM; I wanted to see my fellow slaves to converse, so I escaped from the house and went to the slave market. I got their at about 5:30 because I had to walk there, I had some time because the Richard family wakes up at 10:00 o’clock. I saw all of the slaves that were on the boat with me, all of them had an injury, my best friend that was on the boat had a broken arm and scared of being whipped. I had a pretty massive injury too I had a black eye, and I was limping because my owner was hitting me with a chair. They were all talking about their first day it all sounded like hell including mine. I went back home at about 9:00 o’clock, then I cooked breakfast for the two kids, I made them eggs. These kids are so bratty, I gave them the eggs but they pushed the plate down and told me to make new ones. At that point Mr. Richard woke up he saw the plate took a whip and started whipping me, it was horrible. I had lines of blood on my back and my stomach, then took me by the hair and locked me in my room. A couple of hours later he let me out it was 5:00 o’clock. Slave gang.
The weather is so warm and humid that you can’t tell that you are in the month of March. My master told me to mow the garden under the burning hot sun. He got a chair took some lemonade and watched me suffer under the sun, until 9:00 o’clock. After all of this I went back into my house covered in sweat but I wasn’t allowed to wash and I went to sleep.
March 7, 1922
I woke up at about 6 o’clock, I felt sick, tired. I didn’t know what to do today. I went up stairs to the living room, to finish the dishes. I felt like I was going to die today. Don’t know why. This was a day I just felt depressed, missed my family, my wife died thrown over board. When I finished the dishes I sat on the floor and just looked at the ceiling. I heard a noise I think it was the door of the master opening, I got scared, so I got up off the floor. Then I saw him coming down the stairs. He said:
“What the hell are you doing up here.”
“I was just finishing the dishes sir.”
“So you woke up a six o’clock to do the dishes that you were supposed to finish last night.”
“Yes sir.”
“Well like you’re down to work go make my bed and make us some eggs.”
I went into the kitchen made his eggs and while they were boiling I went to do his bed, when I was making the bed I saw a bag I took it and it was very popular drugs. The name of the drugs was Chinese opium. I never thought that a rich white man would do drugs. I just left it their.
When I went back down to finish the eggs the whole family was awake they looked at me in a bizarre way. I put the eggs in a plate and when nobody was looking I spit in them.
Later that day, in the evening a guest came to the house for dinner. I had to make a steak with mashed potatoes. When I brought the plates to the dinning table, I heard the guest talking that he was impressed that Mr. Richard had a slave because buying a slave was very expensive like two hundred or three  hundred dollars.

March 8, 1822

          This morning I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning and started working in the house. I got my orders the day before in the evening from the wife of my master so that she doesn’t have to wake up that early. I was pretty happy, because I just had to make breakfast which was really good for me. When the house woke up, the wife of my master came in the kitchen and started taking the food to the table. While they were eating I went to do some more work outside. When I came back, my master was mad for some reason that I didn’t know and I was happy to hear that I can have the leftovers from the breakfast which I ate in my room in the basement. After everyone went to work or to school I looked at my list of the orders and started cleaning the house. I had to bring the wood for the fire to the house and work in the garden but I had also a lot of work in the master’s son’s room where everything was upside down. I worked for the whole day and went in the streets to see some more slaves in my neighborhood, and steal some food for my lunch at the food market. When I came back to the house and I finished my work out on the patch and around the house I had to prepare dinner for the family. But when my master came, he was even angrier than in the morning and I was lucky that he didn’t see me or he would probably beat me up. When the family finished their dinner Mr. Richard got a little bit drunk and his anger reached the limit. He went straight to me and started beating me up with his fists but it made no sense for me to defend my self because I was too weak…

March 9, 1822
 I woke up between the rats in the basement and I tried to remind myself of what happened the evening, yesterday. When I finally found out what happened I came to the fact that I probably got beaten up to hard by Mr. Richard and that I fainted again in this stupid world that I hate and will probably hate. I tried to stand up but I felt some pain in my back that I couldn’t resist and I fell back on my bed. And so I started to search for my injuries on my body and I concluded that I had scratches on my back and some blood also, I had bruises all over my legs, which probably resulted from the kicks of my master, I also realized that my had was hurting on some spots and that I bled from my nose but the blood already dried out.

         When I felt a little better which was almost impossible I went up in the house and in the kitchen but everyone already left to work or to the school. I also realized that I have no orders and I felt like if they thought that I am dead. But I knew I could do anything I want and that I had no work and so my injuries could heal faster. So I walked in the kitchen which was all dirty and I found some rests of food on the table. When I finished eating them I went outside where I could get water and I tried to wash at least a little the blood off my body. When I walked in, all cleaned up I went to the basement and decided to sleep for a while. I woke up in the evening but did not dare to walk outside but my master went to check if I was still alive and saw that I woke up. And so, he forced me to go to the kitchen to make steaks for dinner. After I ate the rests of the food again, I went down to the basement with a half empty stomach and tried to get some sleep before another terrific day.

March 10, 1822

Mr. Richard got mad again this morning, because I didn’t make enough pancakes for the breakfast. I was really lucky that he didn’t beat me up again. The only problem was that I didn’t make enough pancakes for them and so there was not so much left to eat and I had to work again in the deep hunger. My injuries didn’t hurt that much as the yesterday but I still have the scars on my body and I feel the pain in them every time I touch them or that I use the muscle where the scar is. For today’s lunch I had enough energy to go in the streets and to steal some food for lunch at the market, but I stole only a small piece of bread and so I was hungry for the rest of my day. When I came to my master’s house and that I finished my work I was happy to go to my bed.

March 11, 1822
Today, I woke up in the early morning.I was starving. I dressed in the most proper way I could: dirty, ripped in half… I took the little bit of money that I had and I went to the market to calm my stomach. In the stairs I crossed my master.
“Where are you going?”
“To the market, “I said”. I’m hungry.” He went away with a small laugh that terrified me.
“Good luck”, he said in a cruel accent.After this strange dialog I left to the market where I have never been. From the outside it looked enormous. I walked a lot of times in front of it. When I came in a good smell of food enveloped me.
“Eat” was the only word that I heard.The products were looking magnificent. I took enough food as if I was buying it for my whole family for one week. When I came to the cashier and I heard the price I thought she was joking. But she wasn’t.
It was about one thousand more times money than I had, and so I had two choices:
-To come home without anything
-Or to steal it in the most discrete way
I chose the second option. I went forward but a woman shouted at me something. I started running and everyone kept on the side and I made my way through. But ten policemen were outside that encircled me. I tried to make again my way thru but not this time.                                                               Rescue of a fugitive slave.
At the police station they took a picture of me and I was closed in the prison for the night. But my stomach was starving enough to make me not sleep.

March 12, 1822
Today I was in deep pain, I threw up blood.
This morning I was so hungry being surrounded by food at the market that I ate a piece of bread off the floor. I told Mr. Richardson that I was really sick and I didn’t feel capable of working today, but he still made me.
I was forced to carry around groceries and boxes today as well as keeping the fire going.

When he came home he started yelling at me because I wasn’t working fast enough or well enough. Once I finally had a half hour to rest, I fainted, and when I awoke I found myself on the floor. Once my half hour passed, I heard the door creak open and I saw Mr. Richard at the doorway as he said:
“Did you sleep well?”
I didn’t answer.
He continued:
“You made me go through a lot of trouble today. Because of that, you will not have dinner tonight but you will clean the kitchen as soon as I ring the bell.”
He took out his whip. I clenched my teeth as I bent down on my knees.
The pain was unbearable as I found myself yelling.
I fainted again and I was at peace once he left. I overheard the conversation he had with his wife at dinner. His wife asked him how many times I was whipped and Mr. Richard said five times. I may be uneducated compared to them but I know that he whipped me more than five times.

March 13, 1822

I couldn’t move anymore. My stomach was shrieking and I had no more strength. When I started to move again, I decided to go back to the market and finish what I started. When I got there, I started my action quickly. I put a chicken and some fruits in my vest and started walking near the exit. Everyone was looking at me. Did they recognize me? Did they see me take the food and put it under my vest? I was kind of nervous. When I left the market I started walking so no one would suspect anything. When the path was clear, I started running. Once I got home I saw a policeman in the house. I walked discreetly and quietly and tried to hide the food that I stole. Today I’m going to eat the rest of the pancakes from yesterday and a little bit of chicken. I am going to make myself a dinner of a king. I walked the through the doors when Mr. Richard grabbed my shoulder, and my stomach lurched.
“What is under your shirt?” he asked me in a stern voice.
“My stomach hurts,” I lied.
“I don’t care, go to the kitchen and get to work,” he ordered.
I disobeyed and instead ran to my room and hid the food under my pillow. Once I was done, I went to the kitchen to get to work, but all I could think about was the food that I had stolen.
Once Mr. Richard and his family were done with dinner, I went down to my room when I was shocked because it wasn’t the way I had left it. It was completely out of order: the hay from my mattress was scattered all over the floor and my small amount of clothes that were once folded neatly in the corner of the room were now thrown on the other side of the room. The worst part was that the food was gone. I heard heavy footsteps behind me. As I turned around, I saw Mr. Richard with a strange expression on his face. I wasn’t sure if he was the one that found the food or not, but I was furious and hungry. Mr. Richard stood in the hallway, smirked, and then turned around and left.

March 14, 1822

Today is going to be a long day… I can tell. I woke up this morning with aches all over the place and I was freezing. I could barely get up. Even my bed that was as hard as a stone felt comforting on my back. It was one of those days when I felt that I was never going to be free and that every second I was getting closer to dying. I got up to the sound of a bell. It was the bell that called for me every morning to bring me down to start work. I feel sick and I’ve been feeling that way on and off now. Mr. Richard knows that I am sick but he won’t call a doctor. I desperately am seeking a way out of this terrible place but I know I would get caught. At the markets I have been hearing the other slaves talking about escaping through this "underground railroad" .I don't know the details but when I went to the market the other day, a group of men saw me listening to their conversation and they gave me this piece of paper:
I don't know what it means but the man that gave it to me said it was very important and to guard it with my life. When I asked him why he said it was soon going to become the beginning of a whole new life for us slaves. I went downstairs on my way to the kitchen when Mr. Richard, sitting in his beautiful leather chair, was clenching a whip in his right fist. I had seen that whip before, that brown leather rope that had whipped me more than once. His other hand held out his index finger to the floor. I knew what that meant. So I walked toward where his finger was pointed with my head down and I stood on my hands and knees while he whipped me with what seemed to be his greatest force. The last time he had whipped me was two days ago and it didn’t seem to hurt as much as it did now. The pain was excruciating and I felt that every time the whip would slap me I imagined my body crumbling into millions of pieces. As I got up off the floor and struggled towards the kitchen, I fell down and hit my head hard on    the stone floor. After that, everything was dark…
March 15 1822
Today as I woke up I felt sick to my stomach. I think I’m getting really sick. I’ve never felt this way before. I try to do everything as I am told for example cleaning the rooms, polishing the floor of the entrance and, making sure all the books in the bookshelf are perfectly aligned so that I’m not whipped by Mr. Richard. I’m afraid that my body literally will shatter into a bunch of pieces. My body at this moment is like a seashell. With one little touch I could break. I think I am dying. I told Mr. Richard that I was feeling very fragile but he never called the doctor, Normally I would feel better because yesterday as I was cleaning off the table I realized a piece of bread and a bowl of soup that was left. I sheepishly scurried toward the kitchen and devoured all of it. I was extra careful because I didn’t want anybody to hear me. I can’t imagine what they would do to me if they found out. I feel as if I am suffocating in this house. There is not one thing here that reminds me of Africa I miss it. Everything about Africa I loved: the smell of the dirt, everybody equal and looking the same as well as not being shot dirty looks everywhere I go. Now that I think about it I realize how long it seems that I had been taken from my house and sold for cotton, coffee and sugar. I don’t feel comfortable anywhere. This journal is my only escape from this living hell. Writing in this journal helps me forget about all the bad things in life. I never get to share any of this with anybody and it feels good to let it all out. If ever this journal is found by anyone especially Mr. Richard… Mrs. Richard doesn’t seem to take part in the whole torture thing but likes showing me off in front of desks. It must augment her class in town. I have just been called downstairs by the bell. I feel like a dog and I just hope that I make it up the stairs without my legs dragging me down.
March 16 1822
I am on the edge of a cliff. If I jump it wouldn’t matter. As I went up the stairs this morning Mr. Richard was sitting in his majestic chair once again looking very serious. I hadn’t seen him like that since he had lost a client down at the Wagon Bank where he works. I walked towards him because I knew what was coming, I actually didn’t. Something was different in this setting. Mr. Richard was not pointing his index finger to the floor. He was not grasping on to the brown leather whip but something that looked familiar. As I took a second look I realized that in his hand was a brown little journal. I felt the blood flush out of my face. I stared at his but it was expressionless. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me after that. Then, for the first time I heard words come out of his mouth. His tone was sour as he said:
“Malik, go down to your room and bring me up my whip.”
He handed me my journal and I was on my way. I knew I was ready to jump off the cliff. I didn’t want to go back upstairs with the obstacle that would soon bring my life to an end. I am finishing my last sentence in this journal and I would like for you, the reader, to not ever think about what is about to happen to me…

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