Mar 01

A Long Way Gone

(A piece about the story, A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah)



I could see the leaves sway, but I could feel no wind
Stripped away from loved ones faster than the bullets from AK-47’s
Horrified to encounter the monster that is fear
I run away from what I believe is reality

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from family and the happiness that they give me
A long way gone from the joy that comes with music
A long way gone from innocence

Frightened by my own shadow, I run for miles 
Searching for safety that I don’t know exists
Each village I come across more abandoned and abused than the last
Bodies scattered like leaves on the ground after a storm

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from purity
A long way gone from being passionate about life
A long way gone from peace

Loneliness becomes my closest friend
The sounds of branches snapping off trees becomes my music
I try to forget about decapitated bodies and rivers filled with blood
But everytime I close my eyes, the eye of my mind refuses to be shut and continues to plague me with images of death

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from safety
A long way gone from tranquility
A long way gone from fairness

Reunited with old friends who are all searching for prosperity
We stay with each other to distract ourselves from the remembrance of war
But we cannot become family, because there's too much to deal with at the time, let alone the death of people who we grow attached to

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from positivity
A long way gone from individualism 
A long way gone from getting to know one another 

Each person, place,or thing I stumble upon, I am considered a threat
Trust is non-existent in time of war
Looking out for your own is the main priority and the only exception is when you are faced with death itself
The only advantage you have during the catastrophe that you are stuck in, is your life before war

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from sympathy
A long way gone from understanding
A long way gone from second chances

My only goal in life is to survive each passing day
I am never disappointed, because I adapted to expecting the worst
It’s much easier for me to be sad than to switch back and forth from hope to despair
And amidst the pain that I already feel, each time that I cheat death, a little piece of me dies inside

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from relaxation 
A long way gone from comfort
A long way gone from living life to its fullest

Captured by soldiers from the army 
Their faces... dark, as if they had bathed in charcoal
They strip me of my childhood memories so I can only move forward
But it traps me in the present

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from free thinking
A long way gone from serenity
A long way gone from having control of my actions

They strike fear into our hearts by exposing us to bloodstained and battered bodies
Telling us stories of decapitations, burnt down villages, and rape
I hope with the small amount of heart that is still with in me, that it’s not true
But I know that they're not even telling us to the full extent

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from PG ratings
A long way gone from virtue
A long way gone from incorruption

They take away my hip-hop 
So I modify my taste in music to be accustomed to the melody of bullets zipping past my head
The shrieks and howls of fallen soldiers becomes my chorus
And my thumping heart from all the cocaine mixed with gunpowder that I snorted, becomes my beat

I am a long way gone 
A long way gone from normal
A long way gone from leisure
A long way gone from human

My ears ring from gun shots, my body aches, and my index finger is sore
They feed us the phrase, “Imagine the rebels that you fight are the ones that killed your family”
Driven by my anger and animosity, the only thought in my head is to kill
We repeat “One, two” in our heads while we imagine running into battle to avenge the lives that they took from us

I am a long way gone 
A long way gone from sweet dreams
A long way gone from righteousness  
A long way gone from forgiveness

As I grit my teeth in pain from the fear that I am experiencing, tears begin to form in my eyes
I grip my gun for comfort
Afraid that our own breathing could cause our death, we breathe quietly
We hold our guns tightly, because we believe that they are the only things giving us strength

I am a long way gone 
A long way gone from assurance
A long way gone from joy
A long way gone from contentment

Blood gushes from the bullet holes of a damaged rebel
It sprays across my face like a crashing wave 
A comrade of mine younger than me cries for his mother in the most painful piercing voice that i’ve ever heard
His screams vibrate in my head to the point where my brain finally shakes loose from its anchor

I am a long way gone
A long way gone from common sense
A long way gone from sanity
A long way gone from perfection 

My squad becomes my family, my gun becomes my protector and provider, and my only rule is to kill or be killed
My childhood has gone by without my knowing, and it seems as if my heart has stopped because of it
Bloodshed and slaughter of my enemies becomes a daily routine and I feel no pity 
I have been fighting for two years

I am a long way gone 
A long way gone from bliss
A long way gone from emotion
A long way gone from the true Ishmael Beah

But, I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to return
For each uphill that you are forced to run up, there is a downhill to support you in your time of need
As I am rescued from war and challenged to rehabilitate myself, the caring people around me continue to remind me, “It’s not your fault”

I am blessed with the gift of second chance
Even though war continues to physically, mentally, and emotionally affect me, I keep enough fight within me to keep going
I can see the leaves sway and I can feel the wind. 

 
About the Author: Rivan C.
Rivan Calderin
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