Liberian Saah Millimono’s debut is a moving account of a boy’s life in a time of crisi. Tarnue is at times clear-eyed and wise beyond his years, at others bewildered by the impact of national upheaval on his already challenging existence as Charles Taylor’s forces enter Liberia. Millimono’s is a brave, honest voice. With prose that is authentic and spare, this story of one boy caught up in cataclysmic events is a powerful indictment of the trauma, and the pity,of war.
The policeman’s grin broadens. He pounces. Long fingers. A girl would shave her head for fingers like his. He spits on my finger, and draws out the ring with his teeth; the ring I have worn for 18 years – from the day I was recognized by the priests as a man and a prince. It was supposed to have been passed on to the son I do not have. The policeman twists my hand this way and that, his tongue caught between his teeth; a study in concentrated avarice.
He grew stronger and the weight started coming off. And though he did not time himself, or know how many kilometres he covered, how much weight he lost, he knew that he ran a little further everyday, he did not sweat as much, the aches and pains were more bearable and his body felt lighter.