A Long Way Gone
By: Ishmael Beah
Week five part one
In section five, Ishmael continues to recover from his traumatizing days as a soldier. He was at a place called Benin Home outside of Freetown. He is continually angered by civilians telling him what to do. The drugs were wearing off, and he and the other boys were often sick because of that. The boys would often hold fights for entertainment. Ishmael refused nurses attention when possible, but he was sometimes forced to accept help, like when he got glass stuck inside his hand. Ishmael remembered times of a junior lieutenant, leading his men to destroy a village and kill the members of it. He was nicknamed green snake, because he blends with nature and is deadly when he wants to be. The home encouraged the boys to go to school, but instead they sold the supplies for money to go into Freetown with. Eventually, the school stopped the sales and made a deal with the students. If you went to school during the week, you could take a trip to Freetown on the weekends; everyone started attending. The bruises on Ishmael’s arms remind him of the near misses of bullets when attacking a town. He recalls how they buried the prisoners alive. All of the boys had nightmares while sleeping, some sleepwalking and yelling because of them. The nurse, Esther, finally convinced Ishmael to get a check-up by bribing him with a coke. Days after the initial appointment, she gave him a present; a walkman with a rap tape. Esther noticed bullet wounds on his shin, from when Ishmael had surgery to remove a bullet from battle. To make sure he was treated appropriately, Esther took him to Freetown for a more precise examination of the wounds. That day in town, Esther purchased a Bob Marley tape for Ishmael and a jersey for Alhaji. A field worker named Leslie came to Freetown with them too. Leslie’s job was also to find a home for the boys after rehabilitation. After that day, Esther and Ishmael became better friends. They would listen to the tapes and write the lyrics daily. With their friendship, Ishmael started talking to her about his dreams, family, and his previous life. After performing in a talent show for the home, Ishmael became an official spokesperson, talking to people about how the boy soldiers are rehabilitating and need foster homes. Ishmael suggested for Leslie to look for his uncle Tommy as a foster home, and Leslie came through. Ishmael met his uncle for the first time, and he agreed to have Ishmael live with him and his family. His uncle made visits every weekend, and the two of them became close, talking about Ishmaels dad and the trouble they got into as kids. Ishmael met his new family, and they were all very nice. There were four cousins- Allie, Matilda, Kona, and Sombo. After going to a soccer game with the Allie, the oldest being 21 and the only boy, Tommy took Ishmael back to the home.
It is so hard to imagine what Ishmael and the other boys have gone through. Their trust in others has been demolished; their happiness has been taken away along with their innocence. The boys struggle to rehabilitate from their destructive state. If it wasn’t for Esther, I’m not sure Ishmael would have. Esther didn’t judge him for what he has done. She treats him like a boy his age would normally be treated, and she becomes his friend. Talking to her helped him cope with his past. Ishmael struggles to recall the days of happiness with his family, because it only saddens him. He is now alone and so deeply wishes that his family would have lived. When Esther listens to him, he tells her everything and begins to become more comfortable with talking about the past like he needs too. Ishmael’s talents of rapping and dancing have helped him continuously throughout the book. It has gotten the boys out of trouble with a chief of a village, helped him befriend Esther, and now it helped him become the spokesperson for rehabilitating boy soldiers. Without this talent pushing him though the hard times, he may not have made it. It was the entertainment of the dance that prevented the chief from killing him and his friends. It was the beginning of the friendship with Esther that helped him cope with his past and what he had done. And now it has helped him become the spokesperson for boy soldiers, promoting foster care for others. Although on the whole Ishmael was extremely unfortunate with his past events, he is lucky that he could rap and dance, and that he became friends with Esther.