Sunday, April 16, 2006

Robert V. Sesay - Trek to Freedom

   My feet were seething in the tattered soccer shoes barely hanging on my feet. It was my third day on foot and even the fibers of my shoes were disintegrating. Soon, the soles of my feet would be lacerated, a painful testament that my Adidas shoes were finally rendered ineffectual. As I looked down on the rugged, jagged path, I noticed the bloodied footprints I left as a sort of macabre souvenir of my journey. My knees wobbled with each laborious step and I couldn't remember when my last meal had been. Like many in my position, hunger is the first thing you learn to ignore. But no matter how hard I tried the physical pain I felt couldn’t be ignored. My back and neck felt like I had been bludgeoned with a sledge hammer and every bone in my scrawny body hurt. Nevertheless, I refused to entertain the thought of giving up, at least for the first three days.

         I was only nineteen, but my body foretold what it would feel like in old age. The irony was that I might never get to grow old. In my part of the world, old age is a luxury. You’re either a statistic (one of every five children never reach their fifth birthday because of malnutrition), or you succumb to the plethora of diseases that can snatch away your life before your seventh birthday. When immunization and medicines are hard to come by, especially in a time of war, the monsters that children fear aren’t hidden in their closets; these monsters are real and go by the name of malaria, diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever. And if you’re lucky to survive these diseases, there is one last manifestation of death that comes to haunt you—WAR. War is something that many developing countries know all too well, created and perpetuated by the greedy men hiding behind the covenant of freedom.


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