THERE ten years old didn’t have the capacity

THERE WERE ALL KINDS of stories told about the war that made it sound as if it was
happening in a faraway and different land. It wasn’t until refugees started passing through
our town that we began to see that it was actually taking place in our country. Families who
had walked hundreds of miles told how relatives had been killed and their houses burned.
Some people felt sorry for them and offered them places to stay, but most of the refugees
refused, because they said the war would eventually reach our town. The children of these
families wouldn’t look at us, and they jumped at the sound of chopping wood or as stones
landed on the tin roofs flung by children hunting birds with slingshots. The adults among
these children from the war zones would be lost in their thoughts during conversations with
the elders of my town. Apart from their fatigue and malnourishment, it was evident they had
seen something that plagued their minds, something that we would refuse to accept if they
told us all of it. At times I thought that some of the stories the passersby told were
exaggerated. The only wars I knew of were those that I had read about in books or seen in
movies such as Rambo: First Blood, and the one in neighboring Liberia that I had heard
about on the BBC news. My imagination at ten years old didn’t have the capacity to grasp
what had taken away the happiness of the refugees.

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