I bent my head and breathed the fresh new scent of her. I looked into her deep blue eyes and saw reflected there the dawn of my own new life. This little girl seemed to me, at that moment, answer enough to all my questions. To have saved this small, singular one-this alone seemed reason enough that I lived. I knew then that this was how I was meant to go on: away from death and toward life, from birth to birth, from seed to blossom, living my life amongst wonders.

A book for children, like the myths and folktales that tend to slide into it, is really a blueprint for dealing with life. For that reason, it might have a happy ending, because nobody ever solved a problem while believing it was hopeless. It might put the aims and the solution unrealistically high – in the same way that folktales tend to be about kings and queens – but this is because it is better to aim for the moon and get halfway there than just to aim for the roof and get halfway upstairs.

The thought of suicide was entertained by nearly everyone, if only for a brief time. It was born of the hopelessness of the situation, the constant danger of death looming over us daily and hourly, and the closeness of the deaths suffered by many of the others. From personal convictions which will be mentioned later, I made myself a firm promise, on my first evening in camp, that I would not “run into the wire.

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