Friday, December 13, 2013

The most disabling thought

Powerful writing about the horror of Amanda Lindhout’s repeated rape and torture during her 460 days as a hostage in Somalia in 2008 and 2009:

It didn’t matter whether it was the tenth time or the thousandth; enduring their cruelties never became any easier. It always had the same effect, consuming me, putting me in a knotted and unhopeful rage. I’d spent my life believing that people were, at heart, kind and good. This was what the world had shown me, But I couldn’t find anything good about these boys, about any of my captors. If humans could be this monstrous, maybe I’d had everything wrong. If this was the world, I didn’t want to live in it. That was the scariest and most disabling thought of all. (293)

Tortured almost to death, Lindhout feels herself become a disembodied observer.

From above, I could see two men and a woman on the ground. The woman was tied up like an animal, and the men were hurting her, landing blows on her body. I knew all of them, but I also didn’t. I recognized myself down there, but I felt no more connected to the woman than to the men in the room. I’d slipped across some threshold I would never understand. The feeling was both deeply peaceful and deeply sad.
What I saw was three people suffering, the tortured and the torturers alike. (337)

From A House in the Sky by Lindhout and Sara Corbett (Scribner, 2013).

Also see Sara Shyiak's blog about the book.