Yumna is a co- author of Struggles Of War available to purchase on Amazon and a teen who loves writing poetry about issues like identity.
Life is a journey.
Life is a journey filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination, our purpose in life. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. The road will be rocky.
Some of these challenges will test our courage, strengths, weaknesses, and faith. Along the way, we may stumble upon obstacles that will come between the paths that we are destined to take. In order to follow the right path, we must overcome these obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are really blessings in disguise, only we don't realise that at the time. It is these times in which define us and shape our true beliefs, aims and dreams. They reconstruct the myths we create about ourselves and ultimately others. We learn more about ourselves every day, break barriers and discover our true identity.
I have to share a personal story from my life as a slave.
Holding my breath is pointless, the acrid smell never goes away and even when I do get off this ship, I will still remember that distinctive scent. I doubt I will anyway, because I will get sick and will be thrown overboard, just like the others. We are cramped like sardines and we are suffocated on this ship.
The thought of my family makes me cry, but I have become so accustomed to tears that constantly wetting my face that it would to me feel odd not to cry. The cycle makes this seem normal.
Stopping means I have no daily ritual to follow on this seemingly endless and treacherous journey to America - ‘the land of free’. The disease spreads like cancer and the groans of the ill people grow so loud that I try to muffle it with my own singing. Each and every day, I become so exhausted and when I try to sit up, my body becomes so stiff with aching pain that I give up and breathe a long sigh and begin to close my eyes again.
Some days, I wonder why I am punished like this. Why was it me to have been taken by the white men from my home in Africa? It was a beautiful place and I was snatched, ripped off from everyone and everything I knew…
My stomach is churning horribly as we are only served stale bread and contaminated water once a day if we are good. Last night, the sinful men forced us all on the decks, group by group, to “dance”. At first I refused screaming as loud as my lungs would let me however the crack of the whip struck my back as quick as lightning as we were herded onto the middle of the deck. The winter air was refreshing at first but then I could not stop shivering and I did not want to move. It was cold and my fingertips were hurting with frostbite. Suddenly, something cold and wet sliced my back. The agony is unimaginable and my cry was echoed by the others around me. After the ‘dancing’ was done, we all returned to hold.
Waking up from the worst nightmare ever, I realise that sweat is trickling down my face. The sweltering heat made my ragged clothes stick on to my clothes. My heart rate was racing.
I pictured Africa.
The picturesque, serene landscape as I kicked off my pink little sandals and ran around in the light green grass with my little brother and older sisters. The scorching sun smiled down at us, only a soft breeze in the air. We heard a big crash and my heart started pounding. Pounding with fear. As I recall the memories of what happened on the atrocious day, I remember my sisters face as clear as day as she started running to the house.
Grabbing my brothers hand, we arrive at the house and are unaware of what happened. Without warning, a white man’s hand seizes my ankles as I am dragged away from my family. My friends. Everyone.
Tears fall from my face as a whirlpool of emotions suddenly hit on me. Confusion, anger and worry. Where was, I been taken to? Where were my parents? Who were they? What were they doing? More importantly, why was this happening to me? It was a perfect world and whatever happened there was to be long gone and forgotten.
Right now, I do not know why I endure this torture. My life will never be the same after living this way, so why even try to live? Maybe it is braver to undergo the suffering, but my body can’t take much more. All I know is someday I’ll be free - even if it is among the dead I wander, I promise you, I won’t be here.
I promise you.
Mark Tulin from Ventura, California on December 30, 2018:
I feel your ups and downs in this journey.