Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BOYCOTT (11/01/18)
TITLE: The Price
By Ellen Carr
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She pulled her scarf over her head and walked slowly up the brown, dusty road. Images of her children filled her head, their skinny bodies and protruding stomachs. She raised her chin and straightened her shoulders. Other women were walking the same direction, some with heads down, shuffling, some walking proudly like Selena. Some had succumbed to the swirl of despair. Some refused to give in.
The sound of cars approaching sent the women scuttling off the road. A line of cars, followed by a limousine with a flag on the front came hurtling around the nearby corner tooting their horns. Tinted windows hid the limousine's occupant but everyone knew it was Degale, the Commissioner. His chauffeur hardly slowed as he headed towards the crowded market area. People moved rapidly out of the way.
For four years the ordinary people had suffered from the boycotts. Imported goods were rarely seen as trade ground to a halt. Other nations were trying to teach Degale a lesson. The international community did not like the way he rode roughshod over his people. Neither did the locals. But the boycott was hurting the people, not Degale. He could procure whatever food and other goods he wanted.
He was driven around in his shiny imported car and everyone knew he imbibed heavily on imported alcohol. People bowed and scraped before him but behind his back he was hated. Around the boycotts a black market had grown up and Degale was the main profiteer.
At the same time a crippling drought had all but wiped out the local livestock and the meat supply. And, of course, imported meat was off the menu. Selena could hardly remember the taste of roasted lamb or stewed goat. Her littlest ones had never enjoyed biting into a succulent piece of delicious meat.
And there were other deprivations. No imported cotton, no shoes. Things seemed to have had reversed back to her grandparents' time. Modern appliances were in very short supply. A hefty bribe was the only way to secure a television or an electric stove. But meat was something everyone craved.
“Selena, wait!” It was Rotina, her neighbour and friend. 'Masselo can get us meat! Do you want some?”
“What's the price Rotina? And where will he get it?”
“I can't tell you where he'll get it, but it will be genuine goat's meat and your children will love it.”
“And the price?” Selena knew she would love to cook some goat for her family.
“Forty rabins a pound, and a promise not to tell anyone else who got it for you. Easy Selena! I know it's expensive, but oh, it will be so worth it!”
“Sorry Rotina, I can't buy it.”
“What, you can't raise the money? Come on! I know you have that much saved from your sewing.”
“No, Rotina. I can't buy it because it's dishonest to pay bribes to Degale's men. And that's what Masselo must have done. I won't let my Jesus down just for some meat.”
“Your choice, Selena. But you're crazy! This chance won't come around for a long time.”
“I know. But I will only buy my food the honest way. I won't support the black market and those dishonest robbers.”
“Okay. But don't tell anyone that my family is having some of that meat. You're a good woman Selena. I wish I could be that good. And some time I want to hear more about your Jesus. You seem so content in all this mess.”
“Any time dear Rotina. As soon as you're ready. I want to tell you! Jesus has changed me and changed my whole life. He can do that for you too.”
Exodus 23:8 New International Version (NIV)
Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.
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