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Child Soldier, II

ISSUE:  Winter 2012

Photo by Marcus Bleasdale

“We always kicked for the same team. We prayed
next to each other on the sajjada during salat.
Shabaab saw this and gave me a new gun and said
I must shoot Kassim. Now and then, they do this
to test our trust.
I begin to see him in my dreams,
and he is talking to me, repeating I killed him for
nothing. I wake crying. I thought Allah the Supreme,
the merciful, would have us love each other, that the war
was with the infidels, not my friends. I had to escape.
I wanted back home, God-willing, with my mother
and my sisters. So while others slept, one night I draped
and ran through the desert. Allah guided me farther
into myself and I did not stop, helped me to brave
the bandits and hyenas. I walked a full day and a half
before a pickup truck braked, hissing to a halt. A grave
silence filled the lorry. No one smiled. No laughs
for a new beginning, just the exhausted looks of terror
and fear and hunger, just the awful smell of vomit
and urine, a collection of faces like smoking embers.”


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