Finally 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:
Adesuwa 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.