The boys are given guns and live ammunition for the first time and marched off to the forest to fight. Ishmael and the other boy soldiers fight alongside the military, and Ishmael kills a man for the first time.
One afternoon Ishmael and a few soldiers were chosen to participate in a throat slitting competition. The first to kill in the least amount of time wins. Ishmael quickly and deftly uses his bayonet to slice his prisoner's Adam's apple in a zigzag. With this win Ishmael was awarded the title of junior lieutenant. At this point in his life, Ishmael’s only thought is to kill or be killed.
In January of 1996, when Ishmael is 15 years old, his world is again changed. UNICEF men arrive to take the boy soldiers from the war zone. He tells them that the UNICEF men will put them in schools and find them new lives. Shortly after, Ishmael and some of his friends were put into a rehabilitation center to help them deal with the effects of the war.
One of Ishmael’s nurses, Esther, buys him a Walkman and rap cassettes. The music overtakes him and he begins opening up to Esther about his past. He tells her about some of the evil he has done and when Esther tells him that it isn't his fault Ishmael gets really angry but Esther continues to use music to lure Ishmael into therapy and she also gives him a notebook and encourages him to begin writing lyrics again.
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