Those weeks on the unforgiving sea felt like 20 lifetimes.
Below deck, laced with damp and cold, day and night subsided into a blurry union.
Without ground beneath me, my soul stayed unsteady and my mind wandered, never fully awake, and never fast asleep. Limbo.
Fear had dug a permanent cave in my stiff bones. Memories of home seemed a million full moons away.
Dreams of playing with Kibwe and cooking with shosho were interlaced with nightmares of falling blindly through an endless abyss. Why me?
My soul sensed that I would never again taste the rain of the wet season that turned sand into mud and seed into fruit. No, I would never again feel the grassland beneath my running feet, hear the crickets after dusk or give thanks to my ancestors on the grounds they once walked.
Oh Ngai, why have you forsaken us? Blood has been spilt on our soil, turning our rivers crimson. Our sons and daughters have been stolen, leaving our land bare. Why have you forsaken us?
My tears turned into blood, finally drying up, leaving behind a walking corpse. The cries of my brothers and sisters amidst the unknown waters rang loud, eventually subsiding into numb soundlessness.
But even though outwardly broken, in the deepest part of my mind remained my spirit, a quiet strength. Hiding from the aching body that poisoned my intangible thoughts, it waited patiently. This would not be my end. The melanin that coursed through me would one day be passed down to my daughter’s daughters daughter, until the earth faded into nothing. A gift from the gods is not easily broken.