Back to the Future by Amit Parmessur

(On the day slavery was abolished members of the army started to climb Le Morne Brabant with the intention of telling the slaves that they were free [1]but—)

Le Morne Brabant, Mauritius. Courtesy: Creative Commons
Gasping between egg-like boulders on the mountain cliff,
she could hear the rustling in the forest again. Thoughts
of recapture tortured her. Her dreams panicked.

When she heard a stick snap under one officer’s boot,
bondage stabbed at her bosom—bluer, bitterer.
The rustling came closer. Far too close.

She leapt gracefully to meet the other eight
who had showered into The Valley of Bones*
like cold raindrops, wishing to wake up
somewhere else, anywhere else.

Her legs pedalling, her shout
bold and free, blissful and final,
her unborn baby safe under her rugged rags,
she was about to splash on the ground like a rotten pumpkin.

It was a mistake, an aberration. She
boomeranged to the cliff like a rocket
and stopped those who jumped before and after her.
They tasted the news of their freedom together.

She then recovered her husband cocooned in a cave
and they fast-forwarded to Trou Chenille**
where the soil turned into a hut, the hut into
ripples of relief that sank into their scars.

Waking up to the sea changing into the sky,
she watched him build the crab trap,
smiling, straw-hatted, growing younger day by day.

And their evening often hatched into a sega
of unheard agonies, of unfelt pleasures,
their child playing hide and seek with her friends,
ever curious about her mother’s soft, bulging belly.

*   Where slaves who jumped off Le Morne’s western cliff face met their end
** The first village to be inhabited by freed slaves

[1] Slavery was abolished on 1st February, 1835 in Mauritius. More at this link

Amit Parmessur is from Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius. He spent his adolescence hating poetry before falling in love with its beauty. His poems have appeared in several online magazines, namely The Rye Whiskey Review, Night Garden Journal, Hobo Camp Review, Ann Arbor Review and Ethos Literary Journal.


Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

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