If you would know a bit about slavery or slaves, you would be well aware that slaves have got nothing of their own. They do not possess the right to feel, express or even think for that matter. I was a black slave and like all others, had none of these. Today, I am writing because I am no more a slave though I am still black. You must be thinking how I fell in love if did not have the right to do so. I will tell you my love story.
I had a master who was my god, my lord, my world. I never had to bother to think or chose because everything was decided for me. Being a slave, the chances to sin were few since my god was right over my head with a whip. I was a true devotee and could never even think to disobey him before I came across a Mad Man in our city who turned me into a sinner…
This man was 40 years and had gone crazy. Before that he was known to be the most honest, trustworthy and noble person in the town. But now he was saying things about our gods and our beliefs. Some said some evil spirit possessed him while others were sure that he had gone mad. Whatever he said about gods did not matter to me as I was a slave and my only god was my master. I overheard my lord cursing the crazy guy for telling people that they should not gamble, should not make woman dance in public or cheat in trade. What a strange man was he… I had also seen him passing by in the streets, sometimes carrying peoples’ load, sometimes loving the kids… people of our city used to keep their trusts with him. I wanted to think… but then I could not; I was a slave. My master was right; he deserved to be killed for saying all that he did.
After some days, a man was brought in the presence of my master who had begun trusting the screwy guy. “Now tell us what made you trust in this Mad Man who talks to god? Why doesn’t he walk on water or fly in the air? What does he teach you?” “He teaches us that all men are equal before God as the teeth of a comb.” Equal? A tremor ran down my body and I felt a lump in my throat. “He teaches us to speak the truth… to desire for our neighbor what we desire for ourselves.” My god grew red with anger. He pointed to me and said, “You say that this black slave is equal to me?” “All men, all races, all colors, all conditions are equal before God; the only condition of superiority is God-consciousness.”
“Hey you black slave, give this imprudent bastard what he deserves. Teach him a lesson.” My master commanded me to whip this foolish man for what he had told him. I could feel my heart thundering in my chest as I moved forward. I took the whip and went near him who looked calm and the light in his eyes could dazzle mine. I looked him in the eyes and failed to carry out the order of my lord; I turned into a sinner; I dropped the whip. He gave the whip in my hand again and whispered, “Lash me or they will kill you!” I dropped it again; I had embraced madness.
My old god tied me under scorching sun, placed a heavy stone on my black belly and lashed me till I could not bear it anymore. They tell me now that they heard me saying, “One God, One God” till I became unconscious. According to this new God of the Mad Man, I was not a black slave, not the lowest of the low but as noble a human being as any other person around me. I was bought from my old master by another companion of the crazy guy on such a greater price which nobody could ever pay for a black slave. May be I had turned into a treasure from a slave…
When I went in the presence of the Mad Man, he embraced me. May be he was not only nuts but sightless as well since he neither saw my color nor my status. He told me to call people towards goodness. Me? The black slave? Calling people to goodness? May be he was deaf in addition. I climbed the house of his God and called out “God is the greatest, God is the greatest… Come to goodness, Come to goodness… ”
A light filled my chest, and tears rolled down my eyes. I, Bilal, was in love with a God who was color blind.