Facing the Outside

Facing the Outside

 

It was a warm night in Cote d’Ivoire. I was walking on the dirt road next to my house with my parents. We were happy; we had enough food, and an education. Then I was going to tell my parents the best thing that happened to me in school.

“Mom, there something I want to sa…” CRACK! BOOM!

My ears rang, then I saw my parents lying on the ground, bleeding. My heart was empty, and I was confused. Then, my mouth was covered. I can’t breathe; I felt my vision backing up, then, Blackness.

I woke up, in the back of a car. I hear two men, talking and laughing. They were speaking French. I can’t really speak much French, but at least I still knew a little.

“Hey, we got a child with some muscle back there, we will earn so much money!”

I was alarmed, they’re selling me? To where? Am I going to see my parents? I couldn’t do anything about it. I only can stay in this filthy car.

“We got a big strong child there, how much do you give?”

“100 franc,” replied a man.

I was furious, how was I only worth 100? I wanted to scream in their face, saying that I was worth more than gold. I didn’t scream though. I didn’t want to risk a bullet in my body.

With all that thinking, I didn’t even notice what was happening. The two men carried me into the car, and they left. Leaving the driver and I.

“Hey, you back there!” he shouted, ”I’m the manager of the cocoa bean farm near here. This is what you should do when you get there: pick up the beans, plant the…”

He spoke for the whole ride. I fell asleep. I wish I regretted that though. Because for being “disrespectful” to him, he gave me a beating; and let me tell you, it was really painful.

It was a wooden whip, not a smooth one. One that gives you blisters. My whole back was bleeding. Even though the pain was incredible, I didn’t cry, I wanted to show the farmer that I was a man, a very useful one. Maybe he would be nicer to me in the future.

After the beating, I arrived at the cocoa bean farm entrance. It was dinner. My thought has been spoiled. The manager gave everybody rice porridge. No meat, no vegetables, no anything, just rice. Many newcomers complained, but the manager never listened into it. The complaining kids were sent to get a beating. My mind was literally bowing to them for they helped me not to complain about the food. But I felt sad for them. Most of the kids who complained were about 5 to 9 year old kids. A beating to them would hurt a lot more than me. So after the beating, I tried to make them feel better.

“Hey, kid, don’t worry about the pain, if you feel bad, you can always come to me,” I said softly.

“Thank you,” he said crying. He hugged me, even to me the hug felt better. Making me feel more confident for the next day.

The manager woke everybody up at five in the morning.

“WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” Screamed louder than a train.

He gave us orders, the kids who dry the beans, the kids who harvest the beans. Any unconfident kids made an automatic trip to the Drain. The Drain was the place we get a beating.

With only rice porridge everyday, I got skinnier and skinnier. And the burning temperature rose up to 95 degrees, made everybody feel miserable. But they couldn’t show it physically, we would get sent to the Drain.

Sometimes during work, I started thinking of my life weeks ago. I would go home from school, happily skipping home, and walking to the door and saying, I’m back! Mama would come and give me a big hug, and I coul play with Gail all afternoon. When I get back home, dinner was ready, I could smell the steaming soup, and spend my whole night with my family.

“Hey! Get back to work, you will get a beating and no food tomorrow!” He said furiously, “Follow me lad, to the Drain.”

Scream! Whip! At the Drain there were many kids. Especially the newcomers like me. Wooden whips were beating them all up; all of them had bloody backs. This scene was a scene I could never forget, the innocent kids getting beaten up, crying for their family. And for the first time in six years, I dropped a tear onto the ground, and started sobbing.

“GET UP KIDS! GET UP OR I WILL WHIP YOU!” The manager’s sound was again loud, but even louder. He was holding a thing shaped like a cone. It looked futuristic. It had many buttons, I was curious; I wanted to touch the cone-like gadget. Remember, son, don’t get too curious. Curiosity killed the cat. Mom’s words flowed past me. So I didn’t bother to look at it closely.

I worked hard, because when I get paid, I will buy some food and finally have something good to eat! I told my thoughts to some people.

“Hey, what will you do when you get paid by the farmer?” I asked.

“Are you dumb? The manager doesn’t pay you money,” a 15-year-old boy snorted.

I was so angry, I decided to march up to the manager’s house and protest. When I was walking to the manager’s house, I found a few other protesters. We all marched like soldiers into the farmer’s yard.

“Manager! Open the door!” I screamed on the top of my lungs.

When the manager opened the door, I could smell chocking smell of a cigarette, making me cough.

“What do you want?” The manager angrily.

“I want money,” I said firmly.

“No money, now get back to work, or to the Drain for all of you!”

I walked back to the farm. I saw this kid. I recognized him, and I walked towards him. Aman. It was Aman! I ran up to him,
“It’s so nice to see you Aman!”

“Me too,” said Aman, happily.

I was first very confused that Aman was here, but he told me that he was kidnapped and was sent here about a month ago. Aman also said that he found a secret exit and we can escape. I was so excited. I wanted to go now, to the outside, no slavery anymore! Aman told me to calm down. There were many guards and a fence. It would take a long time to get up. But the guards doesn’t matter, escaping was key!

 

 

 

After many trials, we still couldn’t get up the fence. It was three meters tall with seven guards. It was nearly impossible to escape.

One rainy night, there were no guards. Maybe because of the rain caused the guards to go back to their homes.

So we went under the cover of darkness, to the fence. After thinking about the escape plan for weeks, we thought we were experts. In seconds, we were over the fence and outside. We stared at each other, then at the forest ahead. Now I had a choice. Turn myself in, or disappear in to the forest.

We looked ahead and ran.