Nzilani, aged 15

“Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just.”  

A scream. A flash of blinding light. A heavy weight on top of me. Screaming. Pain. Then, I hear a voice. “Don’t move.” It says. I can’t tell whether the voice is a man or a woman, or if it’s trying to help me or indifferent. All I know are the words. “It’s very important. You can’t move. Don’t sit up, don’t move your eyes, and don’t move anything.” I have so many questions, but I follow the instructions. I don’t need to breathe, or at least there’s too much adrenaline pumping through my veins to think about such a menial task. I feel the earth around me, and remember the days I used to lay in the once green field, filled with poppies and snowdrops. A beautiful and verdant. Now, all I feel is mud and the smell of coppery blood, and something wet against my head. My hand nearly moves up, my eyes nearly open, but I imagine that I’m strapped to the ground. I imagine that should I move, they’ll kill Joanna and Michel. I sergeant shouting orders at his men. I hear a series of gunshots, and nearly scream out in fear like a woman near me. I hear her baby cry; I hear them try to run. Then, they fall. Then, my consciousness begins to slip, and my world fades to a nightmare of screams, mud, fire and marching.

“Wake up. Open your eyes. Wake up. I’ll do anything, just please. Please, please wake up.” I hear a voice whisper beside me. Though I felt as if I was barely clinging to the edges of the world as it is, I summoned the energy to flutter my eyes weakly in response. I didn’t want him to see me like this. I hate being weak in front of people, especially him. My vision focused itself on his face similarly to the way a camera’s lens might, and then I saw him. The bright blue sky of his eyes had changed to the colour of a storm – beautiful, but sad and dark. His mouth was in a smile of relief so big I thought his face was going to split in half.

“Welcome back. How was the world of the sleeping?” I attempted to reply, but when my mouth opened, the words refused to come out. His brow creased in concern. “Here. The doctors said that you might be a bit weak if-” He stopped himself. “When you woke up.” His big, but gentle hands held up a small see-through sticker. Energy. He gently stuck it onto my arm, and everything jumped into focus and bright lights. I felt like running. No, dancing. No… Flying. I knew it was just the endorphins being released from the patch on my arm, but man I felt alive.

“Nice to see your face, too, Jace.” I answered with a grin. I could see that he was relieved that I didn’t have any serious brain damage.
“I’ve got something to show you. Remember the building where you and the other peace force where hiding out?” Jace’s eyes searched my face attentively for any sign of upset as I nodded slowly. His mouth opened as if to say something, but with a change of heart, he instead handed me a piece of a wall. I looked at him questioningly, but all he did was whisper “I’m sorry.” I turned over the piece of wall in my hands, and my heart froze over. Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just.

Was what it read. The words that were in scripted into my mind and soul, I could recite them in my sleep. My brothers and sisters of peace knew the writings on the walls of our house as well as I knew that the stars and the moon left our skies years ago. I knew what the fragment meant. That they’d been found. That they were dead. I felt the beginnings of tears sprout in my eyes, but I blinked them away.
Now was not a time to be sad, now was a time to follow their work. With steely determination I removed the old-fashioned drips from my arms, and sat up. Jace’s brow creased in confusion, and his mouth opened to object. “What…” But before he could say anything more, I fled from the room. This needed to be done. I dodged past nurses and doctors; I escaped their demanding hands and their angry faces. I felt free.

I heard the screams before I saw the field. St. Andrews wasn’t far from the massacre field, or as the warlords preferred to call it, the “battlefield”. Then, I hit the bodies of the dead. You had gravediggers attempting to make a semblance of graves for the dead. Soldiers of war and peace grouped together in an eerie peace of blood and death, the irony that they should be bound in death in a way that would never have happened in life fell on deaf ears, since the gravediggers weren’t exactly known for their brains, and I didn’t have the time to spare to process it at the time. As I rushed to my death sentence, I realized something truly odd. I’d never felt more at peace in my entire life then I had in that one moment when I should feel the most afraid. Maybe it was because I knew what I was doing was the true justice, or maybe it was just the fact that the patch was truly doing its job. I just hoped it wouldn’t give out before I had done my duty. Before anybody could stop me, I rushed into the heart of the battle. Somehow bullets whistled past me, but none penetrated my flesh, and not once did I feel an overwhelming fear to run back the way I’d come. I ran to the biggest tank in the field, which was front and centre of the macabre sight, and scrambled my way to the top. By the time the soldiers around me realized what was happening it was already too late. Upon reaching the top I merely stood. One by one, the soldiers on both sides stopped to ask what was happening. One by one, they realized the message. One by one, they reacted. Those who were fighting for a never-ending war looked at me in mixtures of horror, admiration and fear. Those who were attempting to defend our homeland and peace looked from one another in happiness and joy. I opened my mouth, and the familiar song of our once-peaceful country tumbled out. One by one, my people laid down their arms and joined in. The soldiers on this side couldn’t fire at them openly. Their principles were war. Without at least one person fighting back, it was useless.

“Fight! Pick up your arms and fight ye bloody cowards!” One of the war soldiers yelled and fired a line of ammunition in front of the peacemakers. No body fought back. I smiled and held back the tears of joy. Even some of the enemies laid down their guns and crossed the barrier. It was truly a bizarre sight. I smiled and felt something gradually slip away. The edges of the world closed in on me, and I felt tired. I closed my eyes and fell asleep with the voice of my people still ringing in my ears.


About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
This entry was posted in 15 year old winners, 15 year olds. Bookmark the permalink.

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