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© Tiyasha Saha


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The dark black eyes seemed oddly fascinating. They were very deep with a sparkle of mirth in them. The dark brown face and the curly soft tuft on its head seemed to have a charismatic power that beckoned everybody to cuddle it. As Agatha stood watching the infant lying in its cradle, her heart went out to it automatically. Her face filled with pity thinking about the fate which awaited the little infant. Agatha was not a beautiful woman in the conventional sense; she was a bit too pale to be so with deep black eyes but the kindness in her face radiated warmth. She was capable of benevolence that very few are capable of. Not very eloquent, her eyes spoke her unspoken words. Like his mother he would be forced to labour for others his entire life; never know his father and be bound to people he would never consider his own. Her eyes filled to the brim staring at those laughing eyes.

“Thank ye for bringin’ bread for me dear son, ma’am. I thankee ma'am but I think ye should go now. If master sees ye, he would be furious ‘, a dark woman, clearly the infant’s mother said. ‘It will be alright, Hannah. I will go now. I will get bread for him tomorrow night again. Stay awake and answer to my call immediately’. Saying this Agatha turned to leave. She carefully scanned the corridor of the slaves’ quarter and went out soundlessly. As she walked leisurely back to the house, she seemed to be lost in contemplation. There was no fretfulness in her gait but her face clearly showed angst. Her mind had drifted off to her dark past which no one knew of. Deep in her heart she knew she was living a lie. Not even her husband knew about it; actually it was imperative that it remained hidden from her husband. The tranquil around her seemed to have no effect on her self.

The next night the stars could be seen shimmering. The moonlight was entering the slaves’ quarter through the window panes. Footsteps could be heard outside Hannah’s room. ‘Open up Hannah. I have got bread for you and your son.’ ‘Come in, come in ma’am. I can hardly express my feelins’ to ye’, Hannah said with eyes shimmering with tears. As the door quietly closed behind Agatha the warmth of the room seemed to be creating warmness in them too. The three of them in the room were in so much peace in each other’s presence; it seemed absurd to think Hannah was a slave and Agatha the owner. Agatha took the infant in her arms and holding it close to her started cuddling it. A loud voice was heard at the end of the corridor. A shiver ran down Agatha and Hannah’s back. It was Jack, Agatha’s husband. ‘Hurry madam. Ye have to hide. Get under the bed before master sees ye.’ saying this Hannah pushed Agatha under the bed. That was when the door burst open and a sturdy figure came into view. Jack yelled to Hannah 'Where is my dinner? Why isn’t it ready yet? Should I throw you out, woman?’ ‘I’m sorry, sir. I will get your dinner ready in a minute, sir’, answered Hannah trembling. That was when Jack’s eyes fell on the bread in her hand. ‘You stole bread. Do I not give you enough food to meet you and your unwanted boy’s needs? How dare you steal from me?’

Thundered Jack. ‘Please, sir. I stole it to feed me son. He was wailin’ with hunger, sir. Please forgive me. It will not be repeated in the future, ever.’ ‘I have forgiven you often enough. This is it. I am taking your son away. He is not fit to stay with us.’ Under the bed it was as if Agatha was seeing her own life; her mother yelling to stop the other slave owners from beating her to death. Yes, she was the daughter of a slave who had uncharacteristically inherited her anonymous father’s skin and hair but her mother had bequeathed her with eyes like her own. She was only four when this happened. By the time her mother’s slave owners could come protect her, a deathly stillness had engulfed the place. She remembered crying herself to sleep. The next morning Mum had come and told her that she was to live with them as their daughter. It was a rare chance to find a slave owner as compassionate as them. God had denied them children of their own and she had never felt anything amiss growing up under their care. Nobody knew anything about her origin. She was introduced in society and was a success because of her nature. Then she had been married off to George with whom she had now lived for two years but he was still a stranger to her. The George she knew before the marriage was not the same after their matrimony. From under the table she tried to reach out to the wailing baby to stop history from repeating itself but dread seemed to have petrified her. The scream stuck in her throat and silent tears fell from her eyes. Striding to the side of the cradle, Jack picked up the crying infant and walking past a hysteric Hannah took the baby out of the room. The appalling history was repeating itself and there was nothing anybody could do about it. That night the fate of the baby was as uncertain as the hope next morning held for Hannah. His life was to remain a mystery never to be solved and something that was to fade away in the mist of time.

compassionate children rare

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