It’s been 516 days since I heard Sagi my little boy laugh from the depth of his gut. 516 days since Boko Haram took my precious daughter, Hauwa. 516 days since life lost it’s meaning.
The world has stopped going round in Chibok. The only thing that seems to be changing is my niece’s son Ishmael. Ishmael was born on the night the girls were taken from the boarding school. This simple fact has brought such bitterness to my heart.
Ishmael is a strong, happy & sociable baby. His chubby little arms reach out to me too often. His milky white eyes shine brightly. His dribbly mouth smiles broadly. All of this, as though to mock my pain. I know his little heart craves my affection and warmth but it’s too hard for me. Every time he adds a new gurgled word to his vocabulary or another tooth pushes its way out of his gummy mouth he reminds me of how much the world has moved on, despite the fact that my precious little girl is not yet home. If only he had been born one day earlier.
A day before Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group decided that my daughter was a sinner for wanting to be educated. “Western education is a sin”. That’s what Boko Haram means.
Today we attended another funeral. That makes 17 parents that we have buried since the girls were kidnapped. They say the cause of death varies. Some have died from blood pressure. Some have died of ulcers because they don’t eat. To me, they have all died of broken hearts. I myself am close to death. Despair calls me to my grave. Hope keeps me alive.
David used to come and visit and sit with me in silence. Sometimes he would kick the ball with Sagi like Hauwa used to do. He has stopped coming now and spends a lot of time with Maryama whenever he visits the village. Maryama is one of the lucky girls who escaped that night.
Joy Simon also escaped and returned home some months ago. When her mother saw her walking towards the compound, she let out a heart rendering shrill that brought the entire village out of their homes. She ran to her daughter and threw her arms around her. Sobbing uncontrollably, she repeatedly kissed her face “Oh my Lord. Oh my God. Thank you. Thank you Jesus”. I remember how Joy stood there, her face blank, her arms limp at her sides, tears rolling gently down her face.
I visited the Simon’s home 3, maybe 8 times the week Joy came home. I wanted to respect their time as a family but I am a desperate mother. I was desperate to find out where my Hauwa was. Was she safe? What kind of conditions were they living under? Had my precious daughter been harmed?
I was not the only mother who visited the Simon family frequently during that time. We were like hungry wolves in sheep’s clothes. We were desperate for information and dressed our sometimes ulterior motives in “supportive” food parcels and the occasional bottle of Coca-cola.
Joy remained silent for a month although the piercing screams of her night terrors could be heard in still of the night. She hardly ate. When her mother made her light pepper soup and gently coaxed her to eat, she would stare into her bowl with tears streaming down her face. After much probing, one day she revealed that she had been raped 15 times by 15 men every one of the 96 days she had been in captivity.
From that day, I stopped visiting the Simon family. It was more information than my soul could bear. The village went into anguished mourning. More parents’ deaths came in the weeks that followed that revelation than we had seen since the abduction. At night, a choir of screams can now be heard throughout the village. Joy’s cries are the most distinct. Guttural, like an animal being led to slaughter.
I have not been with my husband since that day. He is never in the house for more than 30 minutes in the day because if he sees me cry, he also breaks down in tears. When he comes home late at night, his breath smells of beer. Sometimes he tries to lie with me but when he pulls me to him, visions of these heartless savages hurting my little girl assault me. The eye of my mind holds me prisoner and forces me to re-enact the horrors Joy suffered, but with my Hauwa in her stead. I imagine her married with children she doesn’t love. I imagine her being given a knife and forced to slit the throats of Christians who are not willing to denounce their faith. ‘Oh God, my sweet baby couldn’t even kill a chicken’. My heart starts palpitating and I taste the bile rising up my throat. Eventually my throat opens up to release the little food I’ve eaten. I wail dry tears through the night and my husband sobs into his pillow. “I didn’t protect my little girl. I only had the one girl and I couldn’t even protect her”, he repeats this until his voice is hoarse. The effect of the beer eventually dulls his senses and he sleeps.
I lie awake listening to my husband whimpering in his sleep. I try and regain control of the war that wages in my mind. I’m weak. I’m tired. I’m completely broken.
Why did I let her go for that final exam? We knew there was trouble.
If only I had nurtured her homely skills instead of her education, she would still be here.
David would have come back for her after his studies. He’s a good boy. He would have made such a fine husband for my precious flower. She could have been like my niece running after her chubby Ishmael.
Hauwa will try and be strong but I know her gentle spirit is in turmoil. Hauwa was such a loving and supportive girl. Why am I speaking of her in the past tense? She needs me to keep hoping. I am a failed mother.
I want to die. I wish Hauwa was dead. Oh what a terrible thing it is to want my own child to die! But if she was dead, then her anguish would be over.
“Oh God help me! This pain is too much. I can’t bear it anymore. Lord please make it stop. God please make the world care. Father this is my baby. My precious, precious 18-year-old baby. God please make Michelle Obama care again. Make her see our girls in the eyes of her own precious children. If they could find Osama Bin Laden, a single man or Saddam Hussein who was hiding in a hole underground, surely they can find our 219 girls. Oh God, move the hearts of our government. Move the hearts of the people of the world.
Move the heart of the person reading this… This, the sound of my heart broke cry. Oh God, please make them care and bring back my little girl”.
“We need to know where these girls are. We need to. We really need to. For me the greatest pain is that I don’t feel my government did the best that it could do for these girls. The regret that I have in my spirit concerning this failure is so profound. Just the thought that this is because they are poor makes me even angrier because, education is what enables you to conqueror poverty”
Thanks for taking time to read this blog – I know it was a long one 🙂
My aspiration for this story was to bring the abduction of the Chibok girls to your hearts. I wanted share the typical life of one of the girls who was abducted – her boy crushes, her fears, annoying little brother and her friendship group. We all have that one friend like Joy! I wanted to let you into her hopes, her dreams and what she could have been.
Lastly I wanted to show you the aftermath – the brokenness, the violence, the violation of human rights, the mother’s heart, the religious persecution, the fear and the pain. Yes, 17 parents have died. Yes, one girl who escaped was raped 15 times by 15 men EVERYDAY. These are actual facts and the fact is, this wound can not heal until these girls are brought back home.
You and I have the power an obligation to do something about this – “Apathy and silence are the biggest accomplices to social injustice”. We need to shout about this until our politicians get so sick of hearing our voices that they are forced to act, if only to shut us up.
Each of us have different gifts we can use to bring these girls back. What’s in your hand? Exodus 4:2