[Historical Fiction] ~Pages from my expedition

“I see a piece of land in about two hours of sailing on smooth sea towards the north”, announced, Gregoran. He was the oldest and wisest of all and a few say he is blessed with mystical powers by the Gods lying below. I’m no believer of Gods but I believe in his wisdom and sense of navigation. From a tender age, I have been living in the sea, travelling with Gregoran. I’m called Christopher. I have no past and I have no future. We will be reaching a new land shortly. We have been to many pieces of lands and seen people far and wide. A few treated us with fear , a few despised us and a handful loved us. Smugglers, traders, pirates, Kings of the sea, explorers, whatever be the name, we are the ones who sail far and wide. The ones who look beyond what our eyes can show. We are the sailors from far and beyond. As predicted by Gregoran, we have almost reached the land. We got ready to dock the boats and unload the goods that we have got. We sharpened our knives, just in case of need. The place looked deserted. We walked with our goods and found a dry spot. We decided to stay there for the night and cook dinner. Being in the sea for months together has made cooked food a luxury, that we look forward to relish. We gathered around the fire that Jason and other younger lads prepared and were getting ready for the feast. The lads stopped singing all of a sudden and we saw shadows fall on our feast. We were tied and taken few miles away. A line of houses that had circular roofs with leaves from what looked like palm covered over it, lined our paths . We were taken to the biggest of all houses where we saw a bearded man dressed in animal-skin , braided hair and unusually long beard. He was majestic and it went without saying that he is the king or leader of this piece of land. The other braided, bearded men looked at us with doubt and disgust. Finally, Gregoran broke the silence, “O Lord! We are the sailors from seas far and beyond. We bring berries, nuts, stones and gold from larger countries. We would like to stay and trade them here. Permit us, dear Lord!”. The look on his face remained unchanged while a guy from the crowd, who looked like one us, a foreigner in their land walked up to their leader and whispered into his ears. He looked at us and with a strong accent, “Our leader would like to see the goods before permitting you to stay.” I rushed and returned with bags as many as I could carry. The bearded men examined and shouted “Batata”. We were unclear what that meant but it brought a smile on the leader’s face and he whispered something into the foreigner’s ears. In return, he looked at us and spoke the words “Welcome to Xaymaca”. We were treated like rulers of Kingdom in the days to follow. Good food, homes to stay and trade, everything was sanctioned. The Chieftain would visit us every now and then , however, the foreigner accompanied him always. The foreigner, whose name we later came to know as Mirion, was asked to say at a place next to us to help us with the trade as we were not familiar with the local tongue. Trade prospered and we made more than expected profit. At dusk, one fine day, we were closing the trade for the day and got down to clear the goods . Just then I heard a woman hail and found people running in that direction already. We quickly rushed with our knives tucked in. We saw a boy lying on the shore, his body turning blue which grew darker and darker with every passing minute. We were prohibited from going any near to him. Mirion stood next to us and said he has been poisoned by a most harmful weed and he is actually dead. We found the Chieftain ordering men to get something. A woman placed the boy on her lap and started whispering looking up at the sky. Soon, the crowd joined the chant . A bearded man rushed with a neatly carved wooden box. As the Chieftain opened the box and the place glowed with a faint light. He took out three large blue stones and gave it one after the other to the woman. She placed one on his head, one on his chest and another on his stomach. She continued with her chant now louder. The stones grew brighter and brighter and filled the entire place with light. After a while, the brightness was decreasing and it returned to its usual state. The boy opened his eyes and gasped for breath. That night, we lay wide awake in our shelter. Jason asked Gregoran the question that was in all of our minds. “What happened there? Was it a miracle?” Gregoran sat up and laughed. “Aye! Miracle! A miracle to see such a precious stone in my lifetime. It is a very rare stone that can drink up any poison and burn it from your body.” “How much is it worth?” “Hundreds and hundreds of bags of gold”. We all looked at each other with the same thought. Jason volunteered, “I will bring that wooden box from Chieftain’s place when he is out for his evening rounds to visit. You ready the boats. We flee once I’m back”. A usual pang of guilt filled me as we are going to steal from the people who gave us food water and shelter but it was overcome by the thought of gold. We agreed to his plan. The next day, everything went us planned. Jason brought the wooden box as promised. We were ready to flee the place when Mirion blocked our way with his knife drawn out and in position. Immediately a brawl broke out. As we managed to rush to our boats, the bearded braided men surrounded us. We were trapped from all sides. The bearded man snatched the wooden box . I was hit on my head and I blacked out. When I woke up, were in a dark stuffy place. We were not sure whether it was day or night. I asked Gregoran who I assumed was sitting next to me, “How many days have passed?” He said it could be 3 or 4 . Since all of us were dying without food or water, I decided to take a call and rely on my instincts. I had met a friend, a guy who knew about the sky and sea during the last voyage. He had taught me to calculate lunar eclipse as it would be useful during sailing. I managed to find a rough date of occurrence of the next lunar eclipse. I screamed my lungs out till I was taken before the Chieftain. I knelt before him, “O Lord! You have made our Sea Gods angry. Gregoran is the son of Sea God . You have tortured the sons of the sea. You will now suffer the wrath of our Gods. Our sea Gods would take away your moon in the next few days.” Chieftain spat at me angrily and I was taken to the dark place again. From then, I kept the track of days and finally the day I predicted neared. The Chieftain and other people came running to the place where we were kept prisoners, lamenting and shouting for mercy. As predicted, the moon was totally eclipsed. I consoled the Chieftain and said , “O Lord! Gregoran and I will have to talk to my Gods in private and would plead for mercy. In return I want my fellow sailors to be freed and a grand farewell to be given to us.” Gregoran clearly knew my plan . We waited in a private place while Gregoran was keeping a track of the hour glass with him. Exactly at the 48th minute, we went out. “O Lord! The Gods have listened to our prayers and your moon will be returned. Kneel before the Sea God and repent your sins. You will be pardoned.” As soon as the Chieftain and the people knelt before the sea, the moon started to reappear. People were jubilant and thanked us profusely. We were given bags of gifts and food that would last for months before we bid farewell and set out into the sea. The lads still think it is the mystical power of Gregoran that freed us. At times, I, Christopher Columbus, can let the Gods take credit! ————————————————————————————————————————— Note: Colombus entered Jamaica in 1494. Prior to that it was inhabited by Taino tribes. “Batata” refers to sweet potato. This post is a mix of fiction and facts.

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