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The Slave: An Excerpt from the Novel

The Slave

My name is KaKufu, and I am the ruler of this vast land known as the Land of Bokos. I am feeling happy, while I am standing in front of my hut, and watching these kids playing freely under the clear sky, without any concern or fear of enslavement.
As I look at the vast expanse of this village; its beautiful huts, its people, its trees, its fields, and its wells— a feeling of gratitude comes to me, and a blessedness envelops my soul. For I feel happy that I have saved my race from serfdom.

I wasn’t born a prince, neither had I snatched my kingdom from another king; I had created it, with the help of my friends, Sakufu and Pu,  out of a necessity that was imposed on my people by that vile specie of humans, who called themselves the Sokos. They enslaved my beautiful and loving wife and separated her from me, just a few days after our marriage. I vowed to win her back! They attacked and enslaved us, and made us serve in their villages and cities that had sprung around us from nowhere like cobwebs; we were trapped in those cobwebs like flies, helplessly and hopelessly.
They uprooted the plant of our race from its motherly native soil, and planted it on their own hostile step motherly soil; a soil that offered this alienated sapling no solace, no happiness, and no joy. They didn’t let this plant grow in its natural directions, but employed cruel ways to fashion and tamper it according to their obscene aims. I can’t tell you in full what they did to us! They did to us what no one had ever done to anyone before, nor would do afterwards. At least I’ve ensured it!


Before I was enslaved by the vile Sokos, along with my people, I used to live in a cave that was situated on a hill. If you have ever dislocated to another place, from a place that you loved, you would understand my feelings.  Ah! I so much loved that place, its caves, its environment, and its people that it would bring tears to my eyes whenever I remembered it during the days of that insolent captivity.
I opened my eyes in that spacious cave. I still remember the loving and beautiful face of my mother who was like a heaven of kindness and love for me. I was a boy when she died, and I felt like someone had stripped my world of its heaven and exposed it to the uncertainties and dangers of the dark space.
My father was a remarkable hunter and a loving man; a tall and slim person, with supple limbs and a kind face. He would sat me on his broad shoulders, and would walk along the bank of that blessed stream, for hours without tiring. He had taught me a lot of things. I used to go with my parents, while they were alive, to the beautiful stream to drink water, and to hunt— a duck, or any other animal that they could hunt with their spears! We used to bring the game to our cave, and eat it— not before roasting it on the fire. I’d learned the art of making fire from my mother, and of making lances and sharpening stones from my father.
To my utter misfortune, and due to reasons unknown to me, both of them disappeared from my life, one after the other, and never came back. The first to leave was my father. He went across the stream to hunt, and never came back. My mother took me with her, and searched for him for days, through the vast expanse of the forest. I would always remember the agony my mother went through during those days. She couldn’t succumb to the wound of her husband’s disappearance, and left me alone.
I had already known the world around me by the time my loving parents left me to face the challenges of life.
After my parents had gone, I had to start a new life, in which I had to hunt on my own. Initially, I found it too difficult, rather impossible, to hunt the fast moving hares and deer. Due to my inexperience, my attempts would seldom succeed. So, I shifted my diet to fruits, which I could easily pluck from the trees. However, with the passage of time, I mastered the techniques of hunting. I became a master hunter, whose lance would seldom miss its target.


I loved that long chain of caves! In that great chain my cave was preceded and followed by many other similar caves, like an elephant is preceded and followed by its companions in a parade walking in a straight-line. One could always find them drinking at the banks of that beautiful stream that flowed parallel to our hill. I will always venerate that stream of joy and happiness.
The hill where our caves were located was neither too high nor extended; it was a small hill, both in its height and expanse. One could climb to its top and comeback to its foot, until a man might swim across that stream of delight flowing at the foot that hill. I had an intuitive idea of it. Similarly, if one would want to go till the further end of the hill and come back, one could return by the midday after starting at the dawn.   On the other side of the hill, there were no caves but only a barren slope, for the other side didn’t face any stream.
Our caves weren’t a work of nature, and might have been dug by our ancestors with their own hands. Since a cave doesn’t require repairs, neither it is destroyed in any event, therefore, my people had long forgotten the art of making cave houses. I doubt whether my ancestors even ever had that art! All of us who were living on that hill, had inherited their residences from their parents.

Like all others living around me, I didn’t know many things, and the list of the things that I didn’t know would certainly amaze you. However, before amazing you with my ignorance, let me introduce to you the things that I knew and could do.
There were many things that I could do, thanks to my parents, who had taught me those arts. I could make fire, I could make spears, and I could cut meat with stone wedges, and needless to say, I could convert stones into sharp weapons. I could hunt animals, and I could skin them and roast their meat before eating. These skills were sufficient for me to enjoy my life. I was a talented man of the ages that you would aptly call the old stone ages.
I want to let you know that I didn’t speak any verbal language while I was living freely and joyously in my cave, neither my neighbors did. Men in the Old Stone Age didn’t know how to speak verbally, though they knew how to communicate, perhaps better than the men of any other advanced age! Verbal speech was merely a pragmatic need—something needed to respond to the problems created by the species of humans.

We were the masters of understanding each other’s emotions through face and eye expressions and body language. By communication and talking we meant only one thing—understanding each other’s emotions. Our final judgments about any matter would come as emotions and feelings. If a Soko now comes to me and boasts that it was their race who taught us how to talk, I will spit on his face, for we used to talk in silence; they only filled our serene minds with noises! Let me make it plain that I don’t grudge the ability to speak; I admire it, for had I disliked it, I would never have promoted verbal speech in my kingdom. The only thing I grudge in verbal communication is its misuse. The Sokos worshipped the meanings of their words like they would worship the shrines of their dead; the word Boko was the boundary wall of the shrine, and the meaning or the concept of Boko, was the dead buried in that shrine. They would not allow anyone to change the dead in that shrine; they wouldn’t allow anyone to change the meaning of the word Boko.
Boko, the word they employed to designate us, meant a number of things; a member of an inferior specie who could be used for any purpose, a Boko was a mere object, a Boko was a human who should be converted into an instrument through tyranny, a Boko wasn’t allowed to express his emotions, wasn’t allowed to love and see his family, a Boko could be punished just for anything, a Boko should always be kept enchained, shouldn’t have his will in any matter of his life. My contention with the Sokos was that I wanted them to change the meaning of the word ‘Boko.’ “If you want to call me a Boko, you’ll have to reverse the meaning of this word.” That was my battle; to change the meaning of the word Boko.
I often wondered who had taught them such an evil word. The answer was their god, ‘Maud’, a hybrid of a vampire and a man; it was this vile god who taught them this word. That god was so cruel that even the Sokos were not spared from its tyranny; they would sacrifice their first born at the altar of that ugly beast. They would allow their daughters to be raped by the priests of Maud. And yet they worshipped that beast.
I had seen small girls who had just entered their puberty taken to the temples of that beast of a god called Maud, where they were raped by the priests. It wasn’t obligatory for all the Soko fathers to bring their young and innocent daughters to those rapists; it was only poor Sokos who had to do that. Those who had to sacrifice their sons and offer their daughters to the lust of the priests of Maud were usually artisans, including potters, blacksmiths, weavers, apothecaries, carpenters, painters etc. The priests themselves, and the landowners, the two elite communities of Sokos, were exempted from these abominable rituals.
The mothers of the kids would weep and cry, but their husbands had to obey the law. The little girls would cry, weep, and would call their parents to their aid, but their parents wouldn’t listen to their cries, for they had to sacrifice their love to the duty. I always hated that cruel religion.
My own people did have a religion when we lived in the caves. Unlike the Sokos, whose religious sentiments were mostly fear and tyranny, our top religious sentiment was that of gratitude! The gratitude that we would feel was of two kinds; gratitude towards the fellow beings, and an objectless gratitude, which wasn’t directed towards anyone, but would envelop our souls every now and then with a serenity and blessing.
When we would feel gratitude towards our fellow beings, we would love and thank them. That was our religious obligation towards our fellow beings.
The second type of gratitude we owed to our god. We would look towards the heavens and clasp our hands to express that gratitude. That was our feeling about god. Neither I, nor any other Boko, had ever feared god; we only loved him, for our god had never asked us to rape little girls, and sacrifice young boys. That Maud seemed to me the greatest enemy of god and mankind.
Even in the days of my captivity, I would always curse their god Maud. I would mock their religion in their face. Once I had even broken his statue. The Sokos wouldn’t mind my criticism, for the slaves were allowed to blaspheme. Blasphemy done by a Boko slave wasn’t punishable. On the other hand, if a Soko blasphemed his god, he would be impaled, and his torn body would be thrown before the vultures.


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