14428694342_cc0fb9ced9_kFinally I got to my destination.  I looked down and used the edge of my blouse to clean my sweaty face. The sun felt harsh on my skin, and my tongue was dry. Either way, my body lost water, via my tears and the sun. I had been walking for the past thirty minutes, not because my destination was far but because I was lost in thought and often caught myself standing still, brooding for the most part.

It’s been 365 days, and Laraba is yet to come back home.

I looked up and viewed the thatched hut in front of me, lizards ran in and out of the holes that infested the hut. A rat the size of a rabbit was staring at me through the straws used for the roof. Clearly, the inhabitants of this abode were not alone.

As I made my way into the hut, crouching as I did at the door even though I was as tall as a stout bitterleaf plant, I saw Laraba’s Mother.

“Laraba! Laraba! You have come back!” She rushed at me and held me tightly to her chest, saying a litany of things I could not understand in kibaku. I felt she was humming most of the time.

“I am not Laraba. It’s me Habila!” I said speaking kibaku and tried to pull away from her arms. Her embrace was beginning to choke me.

She didn’t hear me. Hot tears from her eyes trickled down my spine. “Laraba, Laraba, Laraba ….” She kept murmuring. I felt weak all of a sudden and joined in her tears.

I remembered that night vividly. Laraba and I hurled into the back of a big Truck with other girls and one of the men. I had whispered to her my escape plan, but I didn’t know she wasn’t ready when I shouted for us to jump. “Laraba you were slow” I moaned. Everyday I go to that path and cry. All I see is my friend, her eyes full of fear. We were going to be doctors, a very tall dream in this part of the world. We had it planned. We were ready to strive through school, get an education and be the stars of Chibok. I cannot bear to go to school anymore.

“Zara! Leave her alone. She is not Laraba” Laraba’s father removed me firmly from his wife’s clutch. His kibaku was not so clear. He sounded like he lost his voice. His wife was now weeping loudly. He looked at me forlornly and led her away from where I stood. He set her on her a stool and crouched in front of her, trying to comfort her.

When she quietened, he came to me and without warning grabbed my arms and made me follow him outside. “Do not come here again!”

I opened my mouth to speak but shut it again.

“She is sick” he put his hands on his head with his fingers knit. He stood like that for some seconds and then staggered. I quickly shifted.

“Have you eaten today Sir?” I asked and immediately felt foolish.

“How can I? This whole remembrance is doing us more harm than good. Even people who do not care about our missing children are making noise. I left town. I could do no work. I could not take it anymore. This pain…” He sat on the ground and started hitting his chest. “At least when Ayuba and Wavi died, we saw their bodies, and we buried them. We can go to their graves and talk to them…” He stopped talking and started groaning.

He was worse off than his wife, but did not know it. He looked miserable, but didn’t we all?

Zara started shouting “Is she dead? I hear she is now a muslim! Is she also now a mother?!” She went silent and then started shouting repeatedly “Laraba!” She ran out holding her chest and came to collapse on her husband’s shoulders, “let’s go to Sambisa!”

He turned to face her as she had started crying against his back and held her to his chest. “She will come back, dry your tears.”

I shook my head and started trudging away. I remembered this verse from the Bible I read somewhere at school. The verse read:

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more…”

 Only that in this case we were not sure. I wiped the tears, which were now streaming out of my eyes nonstop, blurring my vision.



Post image by Tim Green via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - IluobeAdesuwa is one very spontaneous lady, who is a writer, fashion designer and a legal practitioner. She is very passionate about fiction and believes greatly that it’s a means to change the world for the better.




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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

28 Responses to “One Year | Adesuwa Iluobe | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/03/29 at 5:52 pm #

    Thank you so much Brittle Paper for publishing my story…I am overjoyed

  2. Munachiso Ogu-Jude 2016/03/29 at 6:01 pm #

    This is beautiful… God bless you for this

  3. Uju 2016/03/29 at 11:32 pm #

    This is brilliant.

  4. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/03/30 at 5:04 am #

    Thanks a lot Jude and Uju.

  5. JoyChika Nweneka 2016/03/30 at 5:22 am #

    Well done dear, I always love your write up……very brilliant!

  6. John Paul Arowosoge 2016/03/30 at 5:39 am #

    This is lovely, the progressing crescendo into the depth of the story is amazing. Good job Adesuwa keep it up. You are a gifted writter.

  7. Esther anso 2016/03/30 at 5:43 am #

    Lovely piece of work Adesuwa. You are an inspiration.

  8. Dike Chukwumerije 2016/03/30 at 5:58 am #

    Well done!

  9. Titi D.O 2016/03/30 at 8:29 am #

    This is fantastic Adesuwa!

  10. Andrew Asiriuwa. 2016/03/30 at 12:37 pm #

    This is incensive. weldon.

  11. c.f odiniru 2016/03/30 at 12:49 pm #

    A really good piece. well done Sue.

  12. Tunde Oni 2016/03/30 at 2:48 pm #

    Good job. Kudos

  13. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/03/30 at 4:37 pm #

    Thanks so much Nweneka, Jude, JohnPaul, Esther , Dike ,Titi, Andrew, Odiniru. I really do appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

  14. Biola 2016/03/30 at 6:06 pm #

    You have this effect on me when you write, you have this powerful bigger-than-life representation of characters. Keep writing; you are a SUCCESS. EXCELLENT. A bigger audience will read your work. Awesome

  15. ijeoma 2016/03/31 at 9:56 am #

    I enjoyed reading this piece because it
    was captivating. Well done

  16. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/04/01 at 5:05 am #

    Amen and thank you very much Biola and Ijeoma. I appreciate.

  17. Evbu Igbinedion 2016/04/01 at 10:39 am #

    What a brilliant piece Adesuwa… Your style of diction is intriguing! Well done Barrister, you have done us proud again.

  18. Archie 2016/04/02 at 3:47 am #

    Amazing touching piece. Well done! So proud to know you.

  19. Omolade Stephens 2016/04/03 at 5:34 am #

    Well-done Adesuwa, this is great.

  20. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/04/03 at 3:38 pm #

    Thanks so much Archie, Evbu and Omolade. I really do appreciate your words of encouragement

  21. Udokwu Ifeyinwa 2016/04/04 at 9:53 am #

    Na wa oh…that’s how they never came back and nobody really knows what happened especially because we’ve forgotten.

  22. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/04/07 at 3:06 am #

    I tell you. That is how they never came back…but some of us did not forget.

  23. Chioma 2016/04/07 at 7:20 pm #

    Very captivating. Am inspired.

  24. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/04/26 at 9:14 am #

    Thank you Chioma.

  25. Seunsparrow 2016/05/02 at 6:37 pm #

    Keep it up Adesuwa!

  26. udoh chris 2016/06/13 at 2:39 am #

    i cry while reading this, you nailed it thanks for taking me close to the picture

  27. Lucky 2016/07/09 at 12:57 pm #

    Good stuff! Well done Adesuwa

  28. Adesuwa Iluobe 2016/07/16 at 4:02 am #

    Thank you Seunsparrow for editing this piece and urging me on.

    Thank you Udoh Chris and Lucky.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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