1861, Richmond, Virginia. I was on my way to the main street market when a recently lodged poster caught my attention
I have known Dr. Thomas for my entire life. We both were born in similar mediocre type families and our parents used to be neighbors .That is all in past, now he owns of a large agricultural farm in west Virginia and has more than hundred slaves working for him. I am still a shop owner running my ancestral business. I don’t keep slaves because of two reasons. First I don’t like the concept on moral grounds and secondly making slave out of a human being is not my cup of cake.
Purchasing a Negro and creating a slave out of him are two entirely different things. Any average earning man, with a couple of hundred bucks in his pocket, can bid in street side auctions to get hold of a Negro. Purchasing a human being does not practically make you his owner. His normal human tendency to resist is required to be undermined brutally so that a mere thought of disobeying can scare the shit out of him. This is a time taking procedure and is based on four human emotions. This includes fear, Loyalty, inferiority and hate. When making a slave the first thing you do is to build in fear. Second, you teach the slave to have loyalty or love only to his master. Thirdly, you teach them to feel inferior by always showing the master in a position of authority. Lastly, you brainwash them to loath anything connected to their own culture and history.
I have been to Thomas’s farm couple of times and seen how they break the Negros into a different mental life. Negar men are stripped naked and bitten to almost death in front of Negar women. This destroys the Male image of the Negars in front of their fellow women and scared to hell mother transfer same mentality to their offspring. Slave women are also stripped of cloths and are abused in front of male negars. This kills the protective male image of the negars, not only in his own eyes but in the eyes of fellow women too. There are many several tricks which are being used to generate fear in the slaves. Negars get into the mentality that they are inferior beings and can only be protected if he remains loyal to whites.
On my way back home I heard some noise from back of my wagon. I pulled the horses to halt and jumped out of the wagon with a gun in my hand.
Getting to the rare side, I pointed the barrel towards the wagon and shouted in warning.
“Come out or I will shoot”
“Don’t shoot, please don’t.” A voice terribly in pain responded
I uncovered the shade of the wagon partially with the barrel of the gun. A black man wrapped in blood drenched cloths was hiding at the rare corner of the vehicle.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my wagon?”
I enquired. His trembling body and wide open eyes were clearly exhibiting his fear. I wondered what he is more scared of, the gun or the white color of my skin.
“Please help” This was all he could speak. The mark on his forearm bears affirmation of him being a slave of Dr. Thomas. Probably, the one who escaped his brutal tyranny.
Returning him to Thomas was easy 100 bucks for me but I felt pity on the poor soul and decided otherwise.
“Stay Put boy, I will get you some medical help.”
I covered the wagon completely making the inside view impossible for all curious eyes which I might encounter in my remaining journey.
His back was covered with marks of horsewhip .It could have been easily confused for his real skin texture. I washed him clean and applied herbs on his wounds. He remained almost unconscious for next two days. However, I somehow managed to push some food through his throat occasionally.
On the third day he came back to his senses.
“How are you feeling today boy?” I asked seeing him awake
“I am much better sir. Thank you for all your help” He was still scared and never dared to make eye contact.
“So what is your story? I know for sure that you are a slave of Mr. Thomas and have escaped the farm 4 days ago.” Hearing this made his body tremble again.
“Don’t worry, you are safe here. Just tell me your story.” I tried comforting him with calm voice.
“My real name is Abias. I was 19 when me and my father were seized by professed kidnappers from my village in Africa, while we were planting yams, and sold for slaves. After passing through several hands and I ended up at Mr. Thomas farm. I have not heard of my father since our Ship landed on the coast of America.” He started with shuddering voice
I felt sympathy for the poor boy.
“On my very first day at farm, Mr. Thomas belts me with horsewhip.”
“What wrong have you done?” I asked.
“Nothing wrong, he just beat me for no reason and he kept on doing it till I collapsed.” He replied with a flat tone of voice as if it was some normal routine of his life.
“I have been there for 5 years and every day was like walking through hell. I was afraid to run, I hated my life and I have nothing else to hold on to except the farm.” His replied, this time looking in to my eyes.
“So why did you leave now” I inquired again.
“I got tired of being afraid all the time. I realized that my only attachment, the farm, is not doing any good to me except earning miserable food.” His voice got firm and cold.
“Still deciding to act against your master was not a wise thing to do. This can get you killed.” I tried to make him understand his mistake.
“I am also a Human being and I am not inferior to any other of the same species. I have hated my life enough for various reasons but sitting and crying over things won’t change anything. I want to live a beautiful life as every other human being and for that reconstruction; I will have to act beyond my fears. This is the reason why ran.” Confidence in his voice was broadening with every subsequent sentence.
He was right. Better dead than living on condition framed or manipulated by others. If I would have gathered this courage to overcome my fears, couple of years back, I must have been doing better than Dr. Thomas now.
Most of us are slaves of our own conditioning. As slaves are conditioned by their masters similarly life experiences condition every free man. The tools of conditioning remain the same-Fear, Love, inferiority and hate.
A potential Entrepreneur keeps working as an office clerk for his entire life because he was afraid of failure. There might be many factors that might have conditioned those fears in to him. Might be, his earlier attempts failed or family and friends might have demoralized him with their judgmental views. The reasons for enslavement doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t lived the life he desired.. Only if he would not have been enslaved by those fears, he must have done something better with his life. To break these fears we need to have courage to act beyond them as this slave has done.
Loyalty and Love is another important factor that restrains us from letting things go. Sometime life gets stuck just because we are conditioned by loyalty and love. We keep holding to something even though it is not doing any good to our lives. It is similar to as if your house is on fire and you are not ready to leave it because you love it. It is eventually going to burn you to ashes. Abias here broke his love and attachments for the farm to live a better life.
Then come the feeling of inferiority. This makes us vulnerable to those who are comparatively confident. Enslaved by inferiority we generally get manipulated by others and become pawn in their hands. Eventually we end up aiding others in fulfilling their dreams instead of living our own desired life. I remember how Thomas used to manipulate me to do his silly works in our childhood. I used to give up my plans to work on his.
Similar to Love sometimes we don’t let go our feeling of hatred. We sought to take revenge from someone who did something bad to us. Sometimes we even hate our own life for various reasons. In first case, we are more focused on destroying someone else life than constructing our own while in the later case we keep crying over things instead of really acting. Enslaved by hatred we are always on the path of downfall. It is wise of Abias that he is neither planning to take revenge from Thomas nor hating his present pathetic life. Rather he is planning to leave everything behind focusing only on the dream of living a better life ahead.
“What are you thinking sir” Abias voice pulled me back from my land of wondering thoughts.
“Nothing. You are a brave man Abias” I complemented him with a pat on his back.
“But I can’t allow you to stay here for long. It is against the law and I can be charged for this” I told him about my compulsion.
“No worries sir, I will be gone soon” He replied
Few days later Abias left and during his way out he promised me that he will send me a letter once his dreams are accomplished.
Time was with wings and six years passed in no time. Even after eye witnessing the daring and inspirational act by Abias, I never managed to gather enough courage to act towards my dreams and remained to exist as a mediocre shopkeeper. It was some afternoon of 1867 when postman delivered me a letter.
There was a picture of Abias and his family along with the letter. He was smiling genuinely in the photograph. A smile that was well earned…………..
“Fear and inferiority are the passion of slaves. Free men are with mind to think and courage to act”