Iona’s story

Further to my post “Why I am so proud…” I asked Iona if I could blog this. She was set homework to write a 500 word story for the BBC competition. She said “Yes,” to my blogging question and I am so, so proud of how my daughter has the empathy to understand how the Shadow War in the middle East is so, so much more to do with people, who were once children, than about the games of international politicians, who will never see their sons or daughters risk their lives in this way. Iona is unlikely to win (she doesn’t even want to, because last year the prize was to meet David Walliams and this year it is only to go to Buckingham Palace). Anyway here it is:

The Shadow War

My name is Jamal Abdi and I am here to tell you my story. It all happened when I was just 7 years old; I had no idea that this would happen. I was out in the street, early in the morning, so I saw nobody, then this boy came out of nowhere.  He said his name was Amal Amari.  He started talking and he just said, “I want to be in the army when I grow up – not a soldier, a General.”

I looked back in astonishment.  Never in my life had I met a person who didn’t laugh at me for wanting to be in the army. From that moment I knew we would be great friends.   Every day we would meet on that street and play. He was 4 years older than me so he was a lot taller; he had brown hair and tanned skin. We would get rocks and bottles, pretending they were bombs and throw them at each other.  It was a lot of fun having someone who understood me, who liked being with the real me.

I remember when he turned 18.  He told me that he was going off to pursue his dreams, he was going to be a soldier. That day I was callous to him – I didn’t want him to leave. It was when I turned 17 that my mother told me about the war.  She said to me that Iran and U.S.A had been at war, she described it as a shadow war: whatever that means. But I never forgot what she said to me after that: “Jamal this war isn’t going very well for us, please be careful.” I just thought she was over-reacting and replied saying, “It will be over soon, I’m sure of it.” Looking back at it, I was being stupid and careless – I just wanted to go and relax after a long day. But what I seemed to forget was that war isn’t a game, it’s a serious matter and it’s not something you should play around with.

I went into the army when I was 23.  I was put into a regiment and soon found out our general was Amal.  He recognised me straight away and to my relief he wasn’t mad at me.  I told him how awful I felt about treating him that way and I never did it again. It was when I was out of the base that it happened.  I was on a holiday back at home with my parents when the news came on. It said that my base had been bombed and that there had been no survivors.  I knew immediately that Amal was dead. I didn’t talk to anyone for days, I just couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t dreaming. It has now been 3 years since that day and I’m still not sure if this is a dream, but if it is, it’s not my childhood dream.

By Iona (aged 10)

Related: Rich Man’s War

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