There are several ways of travelling and scarce ways of remaining in a nation’s conscience. But I did for more than 45 years. Here’s my story.

They used to call me Pineapple because of my looks, but names don’t matter once you hit the ground. Then you become a sad statistic, another failed project. That’s what I thought when my impact was not heard nor felt. I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing there, and nobody really knows even today.

I know I was blind and idle for almost five decades. I only had a fraction of a second to see the light, the bright spark and the loud bang I produced, the splash of soil and the trickle of blood. That was the day I died and served my original purpose, to take a life.

My real name is BLU-3. I was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in one of the many factories that served the purpose of feeding American wars. I was not a single child, oh no, but I couldn’t even begin to tell how many brothers and sisters I had. It is said that we were more than two hundred million, at least where I laid all those long years in the dark.

I hit the ground in 1967 in Ban Phuong, a tiny town in Savannaket province, in the South East of Laos. In there I stayed waiting all these years after a swift journey of 13.000 km in the guts of a bombardier. At first just the US knew about our existence. Well, the US and the Laotians. Because I stayed quiet, but many of my relatives provoked chaos between 1965 and 1973. The greatest fault of the people of Laos was to be in between Cold War politics and also in a place where the Vietnamese could feed their military through the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Their greatest fault, as in all wars, was to be at the mercy of the powerful elites and their biased interests.

The US decided, then, that they should use preventive measures to reassure their minds. And boom, me and my sisters were dropped all over the country. Now you would think I was lonely all these years, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Our higher purpose, at least in the minds of those who brought us to life, was to remain a hidden threat. Me and 80 million relatives stayed unexploded and underground. 80 million!

It’s been more than four decades from that. But today I finally came back with a bang. 43 years after being dropped in a secret airstrike, I took Khamkhen’s arm. The poor kid was looking for metal scraps to sell and help his family out. And his axe found me. My story is just another one of thousands, and there still are 76 million more bombies awaiting underground.

People often think that war is like a blood stain. With two thorough handwashes it’ll wash away. But no, war is forever, its tentacles, like me, being able to kill innocent people from day one until, well, whenever there are no bombs nor guns in this planet. And that will never happen, as far as humans are concerned. So war kills and will continue to do so with no expiration date.

In Laos, this has shaped generations of fear and misery. You could still be walking in the beautiful countryside, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the smell of the greenery… and suddenly, stop being as a whole. I was made for this, so I won’t apologize. But I tell you, I’m not the problem.

The problem is you.

Cluster bombs, or bombies, have killed more than 20.000 Laotians between 1974 and today. No war has been fought since that date. These bombs have also maimed another 20.000 innocent citizens of this beautiful yet tragically hit country. COPE is a NGO that helps the wounded and raises awareness of the UXO issue both in a local and international scale.