The Charcoal Pits

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When I was about five years old, my adoptive father decided to use his adopted children to make more money. He worked as a bus driver during the week days and on weekends he learnt how to produce charcoal. A friend provided a corner of his land at Park Ridge for my father to use. So each weekend and holidays we would come home from school, pack up and drive an hour more to the property, unpack and begin hard labour.
My brother and I had to stand on and in this pit of charcoal, deep enough to drive a medium size car into. We wore no shoes or hat, each holding a side of a large hessian bag, whilst our adoptive father towered over us shovelling large quantities of charcoal into the bag. With each shovel full a plum of coal dust would envelop me, going into my eyes up my nostrils and into my lungs. It took hours to bag all that charcoal. My little arms were so tired, my legs ached and I badly needed a drink, but I dared not ask or move. My father would not tolerate it so I quickly learnt to ignore my own bodily needs and wants.

 

When I was about five years old, my adoptive father decided to use his adopted children to make more money.