Setting: Southern Somali Port, March of 1993.
As we rode through the gate at the port to do our pre-patrol inspections, I noticed something pretty disturbing right at the entrance; a human body, wrapped in a rug just sitting there with a pair of feet hanging out of one end and a head protruding from the other. Obviously this is something we would inquire about.
As it turns out, the young kid we’d taken to the port jail several days earlier was now dead and wrapped in the rug. I watched the people walking by, no one paying any notice to him lying there. None at all. Not even the platoon on guard at the port was paying him any mind. Everyone was just going about their business like everything was normal, Somalis and Americans alike. I didn’t ask how he died. One of our interpreters had just up and died one day from Malaria and it could have been anything at all that killed him. It didn’t matter, he was just dead.
As we patrolled that day, I was distracted, I admit. I couldn’t stop thinking about that kid. I also thought of his mother, and my trying to convey to her that her son would be fine. And I didn’t understand why we would be here supposedly helping people who valued life so little. It’s true, they seemed to place no value on human life in this country whatsoever. This, among other things, ultimately tore apart the perception of the world that I had that our parents and teachers spend so many years trying to give us.
The reality is, the world by large is a cold, dark fucking place. And your life likely doesn’t mean shit to anyone else but you, and those closest to you. For me, that would be my family and the 15 men I was with in Somalia. They are my family.
As I recall, that kid’s body rotted there in the sun for several days, if not a week or more. Tough shit, kid. That’s life.
Excerpt from “C’est La Vie” in “Behind the Gun”
Copyright© Bravo Charles & Behind the Gun 2016