Reading Log #1 – A Long Way Gone

Ishmael Beah, a teen that has been exposed to the most brutal, barbarous, merciless, aspects of mankind, war. Having lived and fought as a child soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war, his life has been drenched in the blood of those he’s killed and shadowed by the vicious killing of his family. During a small stop at a village, Ishmael would join the government forces and fall under the command of The Corporal, a ruthless but well-read man.

“Carry on with the game, right now I want my soldiers to play soccer.”  Are some of the few words uttered by The Corporal during Ishmael’s memoir.

The few moments of tranquility the boys are able to enjoy come at a great cost, the nightmares, the loom of death, and the incessant beating of an AK’s recoil on one’s shoulder. Is it worth it? Would a life of running, fleeing, hiding and a clean conscious out wight the few moments of terror, only those who endured these wars could say. I wonder if the boys will ever be able to experience a soccer match without a looming sensation of death. I thought of just how this final tradition that connects them to their childhood will be ripped from their hands in the incandescent fighting.  The Corporal disregards the waves of violence that they have been enduring and will be enduring in the near future.

I can’t understand how these boys will be able to live with themselves after they’ve killed and slaughtered entire villages. Moreover, how will they cope mentally with the stress, anguish, pain from the memories of such a difficult past? I see the joy from the moments of play and freedom, but will they ever retain this sense of normality for more than a single day, an hour? Consequently, if they flee and are recaptured by any side, will they suffer the wrath of their captors and not live to see another day. Was it worth to seek revenge?

 

A comment such as this might fly under the radar but it signifies so much more. A single moment that will link to their childhood and be reminded instantly of the new lifestyle that will be plagued by violence. It’s a prelude to a future bathed in blood.

 

 

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