Excerpt of A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
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The last casualty that we saw that evening was a woman who carried her baby
on her back. Blood was running down her dress and dripping behind her, making a
trail. Her child had been shot dead as she ran for her life. Luckily for her,
the bullet didnt go through the babys body. When she stopped at where we
stood, she sat on the ground and removed her child. It was a girl, and her eyes
were still open, with an interrupted innocent smile on her face. The bullets
could be seen sticking out just a little bit in the babys body and she was
swelling. The mother clung to her child and rocked her. She was in too much pain
and shock to shed tears.
Junior, Talloi, and I looked at each other and knew that we must return to
Mattru Jong, because we had seen that Mogbwemo was no longer a place to call
home and that our parents couldnt possibly be there anymore. Some of the
wounded people kept saying that Kabati was next on the rebels list. We didnt
want to be there when the rebels arrived. Even those who couldnt walk very well
did their best to keep moving away from Kabati. The image of that woman and her
baby plagued my mind as we walked back to Mattru Jong. I barely noticed the
journey, and when I drank water I didnt feel any relief even though I knew I
was thirsty. I didnt want to go back to where that woman was from; it was clear
in the eyes of the baby that all had been lost.
Excerpted from A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.
Copyright © 2007 by Ishmael Beah. Published in February 2007 by Sarah Crichton
Books, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.