A Long Way Gone Essay

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     A long way gone is a title of the book written by Ishmael Beah about the war in the eyes of a young soldier. This is a book about how an average teenager becomes a cruel murderer. Is he able to stop and drop out of the game? Ishmael was born in Sierra Leone (Africa) and had to leave his native town at the age of 12 after being attacked by the fighters. He was roaming around the country, which was lashed round. When he turned 13, he was given a rifle and told to take service in the military. Being a child at heart, he turned out to be capable of inhuman, truly monstrous deeds. 

     The Dark Continent, crazy guilt of the countries with a vivid patch, which Sierra Leone is, a state, obtained its independence from the Great Britain in 1961. Brief years of gladness because of the obtained freedom were replaced with years of cruel state control, corruption, outrage. “Freedom is, first of all, a responsibility but not privileges,” Albert Camus wrote. In practice, everything turned out the other way, those, who managed to get power, were eager to get more of privileges, positions, money. Releasers mutated into tyrants, people rioted.

     Beah narrates about what happened in a pronouncedly dryly flat voice as if he was an old man who has seen a lot, who has gone through all the deadly fears and who does not wait for anything any longer, neither from the world, nor from people.

     Here comes a boy going to visit a city nearby with his brother and a friend for a rap contest, saying goodbye to his mother and the younger. A father? He is somewhere with a hateful stepmother. He was and gone. Everyone has its own way.

     Those rebel fighters who came into his town and killed everyone they could find had a way of their own too. Or this is what they thought. Both way, it happened and there was no place to go back to. The boys decided to run. Run in any direction.

     This is it, a fate. How good that is of them to be fond of rap. Rappers, these cool guys, who liked cabbage-like mode of dress in 90`s, which is why the boys turned out to have a lot of clothes. So, love for music overseas not only saved them lives but also let them to prolong it.

     What does a civil war do with children? At first, it turns them into thieves, stealing food from same hungry ones. Then – into cast away – decent people get freaked out from the groups of youth suspecting them in racketeering. Some are caught by rebel fighters and got killed. Some survive turning into the same bastard with blood on their hands. Parents, brothers and sisters, friends get lost on the way. Everything is lost, all the principles, which makes it to where there is no new harvest but a total bitter hatred.

     “Why everyone around dies but not me?”

     Sometimes – very rarely – a kindness passes through all the horror. Some take shoes off the hungry boys making them walk on white-hot sand, others – provide with food and treatment. Some curse and fear, others – tutor and bless. There are very few of kind ones though, shamefully few, because the price for mercy is death.

     Then defenders “of theirs” come into the camp of the soldiers. Soldiers tell them to either take the weapon and fight or leave beggaring, starving, throwing the hooks.

     Probably Golding was right writing on how wild children become without adults. It turns out to be though that with adults directing them they are able to go wild even faster and to the more extent. The symbol of the civil war despite the region, country, and continent – filled in with stimulators 13-year old with AK-47 atilt wearing new pair of snickers with the eyes of an old man.

     “Sometimes right in the middle of watching a movie we were told to go to the raid. We were back in a couple of hours destroying loads of people going back to watching the movie as if it was a break for a short walk. There were three kinds of activity only – military campaigns, movies and drugs.”

     “Jungles have become my home where we spent nights quite often and villages we took and turned into our bases. My detachment was my family. My tommy gun became my defender and supporter. I followed a simple rule “kill or you get killed” and did not think of anything else. More than 2 years has passed since I was serving in the military and I got used to the fact that murderers are an integral part of the real world, of the day-to-day routine. I did not know any pity. I did not notice how my childhood ended up, and my heart seemed to turn into a stone.”

     One my circle of history and Ishmael with friends turn out to be in a rehabilitation center under the authority of United Nations Children's Fund with a breakage, a blood-lust and revenge, with a piece of bayonet and migraine, with nightmares full of the victims` faces. The workers of the center knock the door of his heart in vain. He will not let anybody in until Esther the nurse comes.

     Ishmael became one of the two lucky people who were chosen as delegates for the First international child`s parliament under United Nations Organizationand got in the country of his dreams – America. And what is next… what is next…

     How could he lived through the new military coup in his country? How a young boy was able to remain sane seeing how the cars, houses get burnt, how civilians die? How was he able to escape from Freetown and remain alive?

A miracle? Let it be a miracle. Eventually the miracles end up and life begins. Moreover, some new experience. A long way gone by a soldier-boy. A long and dreadful. So is his story about his way. In the name of everything he, his family and friends had to go through, such stories are required to read and jump to conclusions. Remember. Have faith, hope and remain a human being whom one can trust and rely on.             

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