Does it get any better?


I’ve had a lot on my plate since I’ve been back and have been alarmed to see how my blogging has gone from longer introspective entries to rand sentences about random thought… but eh, for now gazelle is too tired.

work, life and variations thereof have got me weighed down at the moment, but oh well. I guess there is not much I can do.

hmmm I think I have been reading some pretty depressing stuff as well lately and so that can’t help one with keeping one’s psyche up. I finally got around to reading Ishmael Beah’s book about his experiences as a child Soldier in Sierra Leone. It wasn’t exactly Shakespeare (no offense to him) but it struck me since he’s from the same tribe as my mom and wen the same schools that she did. I think reading his account put things in perspective in a way that they hadn’t been before.

It could have been me, if not God. It could have been my mom and siblings. I could have perished in that river of blood and the world would not be any different for it.

It’s not that members of my family, however fortunate we are as whole, were not affected by the War, its that reading Beah’s book kind of caused all of them to mingle in my mind. My uncle was lost for 11 years. Rebels took him in the early 90s and we didn’t get him back till 2001. He refuses to talk about all of the stuff he went through (understandably so) but what he has said about it is enough. Its more than sad, and all the more so because although there is relative peace in Salone today, the same B&%&(! happens somewhere else in the world to some other innocent man, woman or child.

People like my Grandfather, who was too old to run and of course was killed, people like my other uncle who died from an erupted appendix. People like my uncle who went crazy after unknowingly being forced to carry the severed heads of his adopted children.

Ishamel’s book lets me know that there is a way to tell their story and that silently reading pages can be cathartic. I also appreciated the fact that there was no talk of “blood Diamonds” (contrary to what you may have read, The War was NOT over who could control the Diamond mines. Diamonds were used to fund rebel forces but they were not the reason for the violence— that is a longer more complicated story that starts (surprise surprise) with the inefficacy and selfishness of SL’s leadership… but I digress).

There has been some controversy over whether or not his story is comepletely true, I don’t know what the real answer is, of course its a memoir not an autobiography and some things certainly seemed to happen for added effect. But I don’t care. That ish happened to someone in that country. Somebody’s baby was killed someone’s wife, mother or sister was raped. That’s just how it is I guess.

My uncle in law (uncle’s wife’s brother— I guess that’s his title) had his hands severed in the latter part of the 90s as part of this war. But luckily for him he’s a doctor (surgeon to be exact) who worked with an international organization that moved quickly to rush him out of the country to he could have his limbs successfully reattached.

I can’t begin to describe how strange it feels to see him and shake his hands knowing what happened to hiim. He like so many others, are amazing to me. They laugh despite what has happened. and have persevered despite going through things that make me sick just thinking about it.


2 thoughts on “Does it get any better?

  1. hey salaam. moving and tragic. i don’t think one who has not experienced war or have family members who have experienced it can begin to understand. i’ve seen an interview of Ishmael and i had mixed feelings. he tried during the whole time to explain the child soldier’s mentality [fair enough] but at the end of the interview he was almost saying that he didn’t regret it at all and it gave him an identity, he belonged there. it was weird.
    in any case, your last sentence rmeinds me of osmething Ali Mazrui stated recently. he said thta Africans had the ability to forget or let go of atrocities that happened to them. and i found it so true. just going to rwanda and seeing how people are trying their best to become better people, spiritually, socially, etc. just to forget or just not to let any of that happen again.
    got your message, will send you the email later today insh’Allah.

  2. gazelledusahara

    Thank you so much for the email!!!!!!!

    Yeah I understand what you are saying about Beah, but the fact that his actions were not his fault were stressed a lot to him, so he’s made peace with it by being matter of fact about what happened… I guess…

    I don’t envy him at all. Either he’s weighed down by the guilt or he shakes it off :/

    I think the thing about Africans is true, and yet I wonder how many people are actually suffering with mental diseases. We barely have doctors to take care of the physical ailments I wonder what would happen if we had some qualified therapists and psycologists over in places like Sierra Leone… then again, maybe its better that we don’t.

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