The Calendar on our wall is running, new moons have come and gone, your bed is still empty, such emptiness will not allow our vigil to rest. As I stand and watch from the porch and hear the rattling guns, my heart dangles between fear and comfort. Comfort that we have not grown weary of fighting to bring you home; you have not been forgotten. Fear that our towns and our lives will never remain the same again; the sounds of these guns have altered it forever. Guns are crying out loud and raging the storm outside. The war Gods are here, with skin of different shades, clad in Khaki. Yesterday, our world came crashing, the Emir was killed by Shekau and his men. We are afraid to say it dear sisters but it is true that we are at war now. Here in the village, debris of human lives are scattered, life costs nothing, nothing now.
The aura here is still haunting.Your name, your faces, it’s still floating in the air; everyone now sees your pictures. But there seem to be little crying here nowadays, the flames of tears are being doused, though not by water. Tears have submerged beneath soar red eyes. Now we know we must freeze our pain too even though it still vibrates our hearts. We must tame our fears to grow the courage to find you.
Papa; his pride has been beaten down; they made him eat the dust in shame that he cannot bring you home for many nights now. These days, his shoulder is getting slumpy and he walks around with his face down. But there is hope, wrapped with prayers; our dear Mama, to the heavens she prays away for a rainbow to follow this cloud.
As for me, you remain tangible in my dream.Last night, I dreamt, I was with you. We sat in circles as harem of women; wives to a hurricane holding vigil against his captivity. Sometimes we tried to laugh but it was in gloomy mirth. You are entangled in my every thought, each day, my spirit roves through many tall trees and grasses with high canopies looking to find you. My sisters, answer me, does their roof give you shade? Are you still here or are you walking on the hot sands of the desert? The sun I see, does it shine in your world? Does the hot wind of the north manage to caress the skin on your face, or have you been forced to cover it all? Your hair, did you let your hair down? Tell me because I am still searching, I want to know you when I see you.
Our nation celebrated children’s day here yesterday, how can I forget you are still children? Happy children’s day to all the girls in Sambisa! In Sambisa, how do they celebrate children? Did they let you dance freely to a non-violent rhythm? Where their voices sweeter when they called your name? Did they offer you some sweet food to lighten your hearts? What did they give? Your captors, do they really know you are still children?
That mad man Shekau, hmmmnn… I hope he knows that he cannot break a broken heart. These days, when I write his name, I write it with a pencil, because I know he will be erased. Shekau, I pray for you; may you and yours continue to eat from the bitter tree of anger and drink from the fountain of chaos; soon there will be no shade for you, as in the circle of life, there are some traps we cannot flee.
Dear Sisters, I don’t want you back; I don’t want you back alone. When the time comes, take back what is yours and then a little more, take with you the freedom of your captors. That day will come, when we shall sing the songs of one’s freedom and another’s captivity.
While you wait, do not breathe in all that is around you, sieve them and guard your hearts. Find solace in your own little arms. In this letter, I wrap you a rosary, a rosary to keep your faith going, to help you dream of your home coming again and again until your dream is ripe. Look through the threads of the rosary; freedom is what you will find. You will see that sunny morning when you will arrive home again. It would matter not how you get to the gate, you may limp, walk or run to it, but you will reach home, remember that.
Dear Sisters, for now, may the nights be soft and cradle you and may the mornings refresh your hope, amen.
Written by ~ Adaobi Nkeokelonye
Halleluyah! It don’t matter what state they are in we want them back (tears)
Incisive and thoughtful – passionately and movingly rendered.