Life, love, dreams…

A Long Way Gone – Ishmael Beah

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“- Why did you leave Sierra Leone?

– Because there is a war.

– Did you witness some of the fighting?

– Everyone in the country did.

– You mean you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?

– Yes, all the time.

– Cool.

I smile a little.

– You should tell us about it sometime.

– Yes, sometime. “

How a child faces the war? How a child becomes a soldier? How a child actually transforms in a monster, tasting delight while killing? Ismail Beah is telling the story of his broken childhood, reveling many painful and shocking memories  from Sierra Leone civil war.  His book is actually a story of so many African children who, separated from their families, found themselves on drugs, with an AK-47, enrolled in the army and taught how to kill.

The book is full of images so vividly and emotionally expressed through words, that at one point it becomes unbearably hard to continue reading. Unfortunately the book is also about reality which we are facing today, but which, so often, is ignored and too “uncomfortable” to acknowledge as an issue to be solved. “What is far and don’t touch me, doesn’t exist.”  Page after page, the reader is guided to a world and life never imagined before…a life of child in pain whose story is a just drop in the Ocean. 

Beside the story itself, which in the end brings the hope to a possible positive change, it is very interesting to fallow the evolution of inner world of that child who went from being innocent, to becoming a monster and then to be “rehabilitated” into normal life.  

Conclusion after reading:

What strikes mostly is that human being, under certain conditions, can actually become a beast and nobody knows how “dark” is that dark side of the soul. But, even more fascinating is the fact that no matter how desperate and miserable life seems to be, there is always the “bright side of the road” and the possibility to  save a lost soul. 

Questions arise after reading:

Is it easy? No. Why the wars exist? Maybe because people lack love and happiness. Is possible to erase the past? It already happened. Haw much it affects the present? Depends how much you allow it to affect you.  Is it possible to fill some wholes? Why just not to embrace new horizons…

“We must strive to be like the moon.

I remember asking my grandmother what the old man meant. She explained that the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others. She said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, she said, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are  some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon.”


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