David Dabydeen


'So what you bring me this time?' Kampta snarled as soon as Miriam approached the hut. It was past midnight, he had stayed awake to greet her, fretting and cursing all the six hours Gladstone delayed her. She was exhausted, she wanted to bathe and sleep, not engage with his anger, but he would not let her. He looked contemptuously upon the parcel of salted ham she handed over as if it were meagre booty. 'You mean you skin your back-end all night for a piece of ham?' he asked in mock disbelief, treating her with the same scorn he heaped upon her brothers when they returned from their nightly expeditions with only a pocketful of nails. He made them feel guilty for having betrayed him and their forebears. He had trained them physically, had tutored them with stories to provoke their sense of hurt and rage, and when the moment was perfect he released them on a raiding mission. But all they brought back were weak excuses. 'I don't care if Gladstone put two or twelve extra night-watchman to guard factory' he screamed at them, 'all-you just useless. When Gladstone land in Africa he raid enough to pack one hundred thousand shiploads, and all he had was one gun. You hear, one gun. And you know what else he had?' He threw the question at Thomas who looked away in shame. 'Brains. The man had brains. Brains is what most people carry in their heads but all-you head stuff with blood-doth.' They fidgeted, the nails bulging in their pockets and digging into their flesh. They had walked the two miles from the factory in pain, but Kampta made them wait a little longer before allowing them to empty their pockets.



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