My Short Life At Sea


On my first day on the ship I felt like I was a tycoon. For 20 minutes I was proud of myself through the mirror. I did 50 push-ups. Statistics shows this is because I was an African. 95% of Africans believed their highest success is when they live in Europe or North America.
More than 40 of them last year drone in a sea on their smuggling route to Spain.

On inquiry I walked out to the first class cabin, met my employer, Steinberg Winterbottom, an industrialist, who employed me to live in the USA to work with one of his firms. He seemed happier. “Are you happy?” He asked. “Yes, sir!” I replied and pretended I did not understand what he meant. I smiled and thought of America. On a couch his wife looked at me in a bossy, abstruse manner, emptied her glass of whiskey, her red lips showing through the glass. Again, I pretended I was not aware of such abusive look. He asked me again, on a high note, “Are you happy?” I replied as usual but smiled tentatively.

*

As strangers, we had lunch in the restaurant while it rained outside. It was zucchini pizza, his favorite. He reminded me of a ghost ship story and we laughed uncontrollably. I thought of snow on the mountain, on the baseball and basketball pitch, on skyscrapers and flats and on trees. I smelt the wet land on the island, seeing more than 30 whites riding on bicycles in a double lane highway.

When we finished lunch, my employer pulled the door open and said, “You’re happy Mr. Man. Africans love to be in America. There will be ballet tonight. So meet me at six.” He brought his hand to shake me as if he forgot we were not friends and when he remembered, because I did not bring mine, he felt shy and said, “I’m emotionally excited.”

However, I did not enter my room directly. I went up to another class which was not too different from my class but it was not too clean. White men, while washing their cloths, looked at me. Others sat beside the ward robe, playing cards. When I waved to them, they didn’t wave back. Then I heard someone said in German, “He could be one of them. The ship crew or supervisor. A reasonable percentage of Negroes like white man country and smuggle so he can take us as such.” “No”, said the other, “it is him the smuggler, not us. He blew the smoke. “You’re right”, I said in their language. And they shocked with surprise.

I walked on passing doors in a long corridor going to my room. When I entered, I removed my shoes and took a nap on a couch.

At 6 p.m, my employer telephoned me, reminding me of ballet. I lied I was sick because I hated racists. When he came, he nodded. “Did you take drug?” I said yes. He opened the door and looked at me. Then he left.

*

The nextday he visited me with his wife and said, “You’ll be well and strong. Can we go out to observe the sea?” He sipped Darkrum and frowned for its strong taste. I felt bore but I managed my emotion.

I wore my slippers.

We entered the elevator. When we reached up, I saw the sky linked up with the sea. The weather looked bluer, not really beautiful but weird.