October 2, 1925
Malaki felt her kinky hair bounce across her shoulders as she ran away from her lover. They were situated in the lonely valley of their special hideaway, hidden away from prying and judgmental eyes. They would hike from the village just to come here at least once a week, just to talk freely and enjoy each other’s company. Not only that, but they were afraid to be seen in public. Their relationship was forbidden in the eyes of the law. Malaki was black and Joseph was white. They were not to be seen corresponding much less playing together.
As Joseph caught her, she cherished the way his strong arms wrapped around her body. Malaki then began to feel sad as she knew that this would be the last time she would feel his arms around her. Joseph and his family were leaving the village to return to London tomorrow, he would be leaving her behind.
“What’s wrong?” Joseph asked as Malaki’s body was no longer jerking due to laughter, but rather silent sobs. He knew that Malaki would be sad about his departure, he would miss her too, but he couldn’t risk her losing her life because of their affiliation together.
“I don’t want you to go away from me” Malaki replied in her broken English.
Joseph smiled. He remembered when she couldn’t form a proper sentence. He had stolen books from his father’s library to teach Malaki how to write and read. They would come to the valley almost every day just for him to tutor her. He loved that she was just as eager to learn as he was to teach.
“I promise I’ll come back to you, my love” he replied as he stroked her back. Joseph was lying through his teeth. Though her loved Malaki, he knew that he would not be coming back. He was to be enrolled in a teaching college by the end of the year, he would stay there for years before he could even dream of coming back to Malaki.
Malaki smiled oblivious of Joseph’s inner turmoil, she grabbed his hand and placed it on her firm pudgy belly. She only wanted them to be a family. She had plans that she and Joseph would run off to the north to freely be together.
“I love you” Malaki shyly whispered as she gazed into the eyes of the man she wished would be her husband.
“Me too” Joseph replied as he stroked her face, he stared absentmindedly in the pasture, caught up in his own world.
The day of Joseph’s departure finally came. Malaki stood by, blending with the crowd as they watched the Smith family load the last of their belongings in the carriage. Malaki desperately wanted to run and hug Joseph but knew that she couldn’t. Tears streamed down her face as she witnessed the love her life leave her, she knew that he would not return but it was never her place to confront him about the lies that he told her. She knew that she would be taking care of her unborn herself and that was surprisingly okay with her. She only wished to leave the village before anyone found out that she would give birth to a brown skin child. The last of the buggy could be seen as it carried her love away from her, forever.
Months passed and any hope she had of Joseph returning slowly died. Her stomach was now larger and becoming even harder to hide. Malaki could not leave as yet as she had not earned enough money to live on her own, so she was forced to stay in her parents’ house.
She would often times write her thoughts and the excitement she felt about having her baby. She would store away the ripped pages in chestnut miniature chest that Joseph had gifted her. Her mother was becoming suspicious of her, claiming that she was getting bigger, it got to the point, where she demanded Malaki to strip naked, but Malaki would just refuse.
Malaki stood in the busy Sunday market, instructed by her mother to gather fruits and vegetables for the early morning breakfast. She just reached for a set of juicy looking bananas when a hand intercepted hers brushing her stomach in the process. Malaki jerked away frightened. No one had ever touched her stomach other than Joseph, and for that she was scared someone would discover her secret.
Malaki stared at the smirking face of John. He was the son of the village pastor, educated and poise. He always tried to bully anyone into conforming to whatever he wanted as he knew everyone was afraid of his father.
“What’s that you’re hiding?” he asked as a malicious smirk made its way onto his face.
Malaki felt her heart drop, she was caught. She knew that she would have to do something in order for him not to tell anyone.
“Please don’t tell anybody” Malaki pleaded. Her parents and the village people would abandon and shun her if they ever found out she had had sex before marriage and would be having a child out of wedlock.
John chuckled before he shook his head. He knew that she was never the sharpest knife in the draw, she was naïve beyond belief.
“Who’s the father? I bet it belongs to the white man, you were awfully attached to him too caught up in your love sick bubble to realize that you were never discreet” asked John, with a scoff.
Malaki refused to answer, but jumped and rushed an answer out when John had shouted at her to answer.
John cackled loudly as Malaki hung her head in shame. The village people looked in their direction confused on what was happening. They were confused as to what was amusing the pastor’s son as he laughed in the tear streaked face of Malaki.
“I just might tell my father” stated John, enjoying the look of defeat and fear written over Malaki’s face. John wanted to punish Malaki for what she had done. He had loved her first, but she opted for the white man! He had done everything for her, protected her and cared for her, but she brushed that aside as if he meant nothing. He wanted his revenge, he wanted her to suffer, just like he did all those years, and this was his perfect opportunity.
“Please have mercy” Malaki dropped to her knees before John prepared to beg for not only her life but for her future child as well. Malaki knew her forbidden actions would be rewarded with the ultimate punishment of death. Her village was awfully religious and would not allow her to disgrace them in any way.
“I will on one condition” John stated as he smile broadened, he smiled as if he had all the money in the world. Dread filled Malaki as she knew that anything he asked of could not be good, but she would try to conform to his wishes however best she could to ensure the safety of her child as well as herself.
A weak smile struggled to stay on Malaki’s face but it was forcefully broadened when John painfully squeezed her wrist, followed by her discreetly wincing. He didn't want her to mess this day up for him. he had waited to long for this special day and everything had to be perfect. They were getting married. This had been the condition to ensure the safety of her child’s, she would marry John and become the wholesome wife that the village wanted every young girl to aspire to be.
Malaki connected her eyes with her mother, whose eyes shown with love and satisfaction. Malaki knew that in few short months her eyes would be filled with hatred and disappointment. She basked in the temporary feeling of her mother being proud of her, not for anything she achieved individually but because she was marrying the pastor’s son.
Malaki cried as her life was given away not by love but as a way of survival. In this moment she hated herself, her family, and the village people of Copper land as well as Joseph. If only he would collect her and run away with her, Malaki chuckled bitterly as she knew that that would never happen, he was never coming back for her and now she alone would bear the consequence.
While Malaki felt as if the world was crashing down on her, John felt like the happiest man alive. He was finally getting a wife! Even if it meant getting her by force. John honestly didn’t see what was wrong with what he did- in his eyes, he saw and wanted Malaki first before she was swept away by that damn white man. He was now getting what he rightfully deserved.
John’s smile only lasted for a short while as his eyes drifted to Malaki’s stomach. Though it was well hidden due to the thick white padded wedding dress, he still knew it was there and it made him incredibly upset. A sinister smile made its way across John’s face he had plans for Malaki and her damn baby he thought as he sipped his locally made red wine.
Days had passed since the wedding and Malaki had been forced to share residence with John as they still wanted to uphold the façade of a real wedding. Malaki currently stood in the kitchen fixing herself something to eat. The house had been stocked to the brim with things such as sausages and beef something she didn’t regularly have at her house and she intended to make the most out of her current living situation. She briefly thought about fixing John a plate but decided against it as he was hardly at home anyway but rather at the church preparing for evening worship, seeking to convince everyone that he was still a holy man.
Malaki had just lied down after finishing her bath and was dressed comfortably in a pair of pajamas, when she heard the front door slam, signalling the arrival of her ‘husband’. She listened carefully to the heavy footsteps that drifted through the house, she later heard the slamming of dishes and cutlery followed by a loud shout. She immediately sat up straight wondering what was going on. John later came barreling into her room with a mean glare adorning his face.
“Where’s my dinner?” he yelled while invading Malaki’s personal space. Malaki was beyond shocked. She had never seen him acting like this nor would she have thought he would even do this to begin with.
“I didn’t make you any, I thought you would have eaten at the church.” Malaki calmly explained.
She turned to lie down again but was interrupted when she heard a loud thump and her head snapped in the other direction, she later felt a burning sensation on the right side of her face. It was then Malaki realized that he had hit her. She was beyond stunned. She could see that John was still arguing, due to his exaggerated hand movements as well as the enlarged vein on his forehead, but she couldn’t hear him, she feared that his hit had disrupted her hearing.
John had noticed that Malaki wasn’t listening to him. He immediately grabbed her.
“Listen, you little bitch, I don’t care if I’m here or not, make my dinner” Malaki was in a daze that John had to shake out. She cowered away from him while muttering a soft yes. She was afraid.
John walked out leaving her staring at the wall. She wished she could leave, she cried knowing that she couldn’t and cried even harder knowing that no one could help her.
John continued to beat and take advantage of Malaki for weeks knowing that she couldn’t receive help from the village as he would tell her secret. Even though she had no one to tell she documented everything- the way he would hit her and how her parents would turn a blind eye to the bruises on her face and body whenever they came to visit her.
It wasn’t until Malaki had hit seven months in her pregnancy did he stop and for that Malaki was grateful. All around her body was decorated with bruises. She had feared for her baby’s life and hoped that he or she would make it into the world healthy and safe.
Malaki knew that she had to make a sacrifice, if she stayed with John he would kill her and her baby. It was time for her to break the fear of being on her own.
An evening when John was gone, Malaki packed her clothes as well as clothes she had sewed for her new baby, blankets and plenty food and water, as well as her beloved personal trunk, where she stored her thoughts, drawings and important little nick knacks she had collected over the years such as the necklace her father had given her when she was eighteen as well the antic hair comb Joseph had gifted her. It was just the beginning of dusk when Malaki was absolutely ready to leave.
She hurriedly walked through the town making sure to stay hidden, she walked until she came to a stop at her hidden garden. Her once place of refuge was now her biggest burden, reminding and taunting her of her stupid actions and wishes with a man who forgot and would never love her. Her heart broke once again as she walked away from the place where she felt the most love in her life, forever. She didn’t stop walking until her legs gave out under a nearby tree, hidden away in the forest.
Malaki stayed in the forest for days, she was too tired to move. She could feel her energy draining. She even had a high fever due to her having nothing but thin blankets to keep warm at night. She had been feeling slight jabs of pain in her stomach throughout the past weeks and it was becoming even harder to ignore.
Her baby would be coming soon.
One night as Malaki was lulled to sleep by the nearby stream, she was jolted by a sudden pain that ran through her entire body. As she regained her breath, another one came. Malaki recognise them to be contractions. She groaned as the pain felt as if it was slicing though her body.
She needed to get the baby out.
Malaki knew that there was a fifty percent chance that her baby would survive. She knew that if anything wrong happened both her and her baby would die. But she whispered a prayer to God, asking him to protect and cover her baby. She wanted him to live, and she made it her duty as a mother to bring him into the world with her.
Malaki moaned and writhed in the open field, she placed her hand on the opening of her vagina and panicked when she felt her baby’s head crowning. She crawled with the little strength she had left to the stream and sat there. She pushed and pushed, yelling when the baby refused to slip out. She looked down and gently grabbed him by his little shoulders to wiggle him out. He left the warm cocoon of his mother’s womb and entered the world with piercing scream. Malaki smiled as she stared at her little bundle of joy. He was a deep caramel colour, with what seemed to be a small birth mark at the corner of his jaw, his eyes were screwed shut, which prevented Malaki from seeing the colour of eyes. Malaki weakly reached out and grabbed the small kitchen knife she had stolen to cut his umbilical cord and used the vial of rum she stored away to rub along the cut to prevent infections. She scooted over and placed him in the water and gently began to wash him off.
He had only been with her for mere minutes but she loved him. Tears streamed down Malaki’s face as she knew that she would not be able to be in her baby’s life. Her life was draining away.
Malaki placed her baby around her nipple coaxing him to drink the milk, she gently wrapped him in the last set of clean blankets that she had making sure to cover his tiny head. After he had his full of the milk she placed him in the small basket she had made from the twigs and leaves that had fell from the large tree she sat under. Tears streamed down her face as sobs racked her body, she prayed as she sent him away, he would be found and taken care of. She kissed his little head and placed him on the bed of the river and weakly pushed him of, the water gently swayed him away from her; breaking her heart in the process. She prayed that after she was dead and gone, she would still be able to find, she wouldn’t rest until she did.
As her baby left her vision, so did her soul as she bled out under the tree.