The beating was almost a ritual. I am not saying that I did not feel the pain. I
felt every blow and the pain was excruciating. But a numbness had invaded my mind.
I knew that the punishment would not be so severe that I could not work. That, and
the discipline which assured the continued existence of the factory, was all that
mattered in that place. There was no good, no bad: we existed in a world beyond all
of that. Some of the guards may have enjoyed inflicting pain on me and on the other
workers, but they were not allowed to damage us too badly, they had to ensure that
we were still able to work. Sick people were of no use and vanished mysteriously
from the valley, sometimes returning in full health, sometimes never to be seen again.
Fractious people like myself were beaten into submission -
When I collapsed, broken, bruised and bleeding they tied my feet together with rope
then tossed me into the river. I did not care. I wanted to die. Flashes of the gruesome
sight of the dead boy appeared before my eyes -
But I did not die. I was hurt, but not fatally so. I crawled towards one of the kilns
for some reason, warmth perhaps. The team of men dismantling the kiln ignored me.
I blacked out. A kick to my bruised and bleeding body brought me back to consciousness.
It was dark, the floodlights were on. It was time to return to the huts. I struggled
to my feet, the guard who had kicked me used his club to goad me forward, not maliciously,
simply to push me onward as a farmer might goad a cow. Weak in body and mind. I behaved
like a cow. I reached the hut and slept beneath my blanket. I arose next morning
without the slightest interest in my surroundings and my fellow man. I limped down
to the factory, ate the food, washed the plate in the river, drank the river water,
just as I would do from that day on -