“On the plane they gave me a painting by a boy, Daniel, who paints his anguish as he is drowning and wants to save his sinking partner. I recommend a book, Hermanito, that is ‘Little Brother.’ It came out a year ago. It is the story of an older brother who leaves Guinea in search of his younger brother. It makes us understand what the desert crossing is like: the trafficking of migrants, imprisonment, torture, the sea journey…” Pope Francis said this in Malta during one of his customary conversations with Jesuits on his apostolic journeys, as later published by La Civiltà Cattolica. From time to time the pontiff has mentioned this account because of its emotional intensity.
Ibrahima Balde, the boy from Guinea, narrates his quest, the search for his younger brother, to Basque journalist and poet Amets Arzallus Antia, whom he met at a meeting of an association that assists migrants. On the first page of the biographical novel, there is a geographical map of Northern Africa with a small house in the Guinea area drawn in pencil. On the last page the same map is marked by the many places and paths that the author has taken on his long, dramatic journey. This well-worn migrant road is not familiar; it is a path in life where you are ignored, trampled on, and treated like dirt.