"‘War is ugly.’ Drawing illustrations from the short story, The President by Mariatu Kamara in the anthology, Memories We Lost and Other Stories, validate the above statement."

War is disastrous and devastating. When nations experience war, the repercussions are unbearable and calamitous. The young, elderly, and the poor suffer since there is no tranquil in such environments. As a result, people are displaced and rendered homeless leading to separation. Access to education is limited and people suffer the consequences of the physical and mental torture imposed on them.

War is torturous for it subjects its victims to physical, mental, and psychological torture. Kamara’s arms are painfully chopped off by the rebels. In as much as she tries to beg for mercy and forgiveness, the rebel boys are unfeeling. The older rebel commands her to go before asking her to come back to choose her punishment. The process to amputate her arms was slow but painful. Kamara says that she never felt any pain but her legs gave way as she watched the boy wipe off the blood from the machete. After Kamara regains consciousness, she could feel a surging pain in her stomach as her injured arms instinctively cradled her abdomen. Kamara also remembers seeing her two cousins, Ibrahim, Adamsay, and Mohammed dragged away by the rebels and even though they survived, their hands had also been cut off. Salieu, who was the father to her son, had been shot in front of her during the raid. Kamara is too young to give birth normally therefore has to undergo a cesarean delivery for her birth canal was too small. Abdul’s death hurts. Kamara who blames herself for never loving his son and during his burial, she sat there motionless, listening but not hearing. As a result of this physical and mental torture Kamara goes through, her self esteem and confidence is lowered. She fears to enroll for classes due to the challenge of writing without hands.

Victims of war are rendered jobless and homeless forcing them to beg on the streets to survive. After Kamara’s arms were chopped, she painfully dragged her feet, putting one in front of the other for she wanted to get away, further from that village. She manages to get away before finally being taken to the capital by truck where her wounds are treated in a hospital. Ever since Kamara was a baby, she had lived with her father’s sister, Marie, and her husband, Alie, in Magborou. She says it was common for children in rural areas to live with people who were not their parents. The rebel soldiers, she remembers, had wanted to overthrow the government accusing them of corruption so they had to run to Magborou and seek refuge there. After recovering in hospital, Kamara relocated to a camp for amputees. Here, she earned a living from begging in the streets where on a good day, she could make two dollars. After Abdul’s birth, she went back to begging and she could earn more because people felt sympathetic about her situation. The camp they lived in, whose size was as that of a football pitch, was filthy with litter and the smell of rubbish, dirty bodies, and cooking food. They could not complain about life here was peaceful as compared to home. After Kamara goes to Canada, she stays with Bill and his family before going to stay with a Sierra Leonean couple, Abou and Kadi, who is not her family. War leaves Kamara poor, jobless and homeless but later on, her patience and determination for a better life pay off.

War leads to loss of lives, parents, and even children. This leaves people as orphans, widows, and even widowers. This disrupts education among the school going kids. Kamara watches the father of her unborn baby, Salieu, shot dead in front of her during the raid. She later gets to know she is pregnant in the hospital where she is receiving treatment. She becomes a single mother and has to beg on the streets to provide for her baby. As a result of the poor conditions in the camp they lived in, Abdul becomes sick and dies, leaving Kamara devastated and heartbroken. Kamara finds Marie and Alie, her relatives whom she thought had died. She learns that they had escaped the rebels by hiding in the bush. She later found out that many hundreds of people were killed the same day she was separated from her cousins. They were lucky to survive even though their hands were also cut off. Kamara and the other children also had to stop going to school, relocating to amputees camps after the rebel attack. She resumes her studies in Toronto, Canada, with Abou’s support. Kamara confides in Abou, telling him she needed the education to better her life. Even though she is scared to meet strangers and learn without hands, she graduates from her ESL course, ten months after arriving in Canada. Kamara’s optimism and patience lead her to a new beginning, different from her dark and calamitous past.

War may result in children being recruited as young soldiers, physical injuries, and mutilation of its citizenry. The young kids are dehumanized and even mistreated. Kamara cries begging the boys not to kill her for they were age mates and could be friends. Unfeeling, they taunt her before chopping her hands. They mock her to ask the president for new hands. The rebel boys give each other high fives as they celebrate, without conscious. By chopping off the hands of the citizens, the rebels believed they could not vote for the president. This inflicted physical and mental pain on people and even those who didn’t know who the president was, like Kamara. Her cousins, Ibrahim, Mohammed, and Adamsay also survive the rebel attack but their hands are amputated. Kamara also noted that in the camp they lived, there were more than 400 of them who did not have hands. Using the stamps of her hands, she could now brush her teeth, comb her hair, tie shoe-laces and even cook, no matter how unbearable it was. She finds it difficult to write without hands and even fails her exams as a result of the physical injuries inflicted in her. Indeed, war is ugly.

War is ugly for it leads to physical and mental torture, loss of lives rendering people orphans, destruction of property, and homes leaving them homeless. Families are separated as a result of war therefore countries should resolve their internal and external disputes to prevent such horrendous scenarios.


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