You always had a way with words and charms. Do you remember how you made the rumpled-shit-faced Mrs Patience always smile? Only you could do that. Did you ever think it was because you were so cute and your dimples ran deep? I always believed her temper melted in your sight, as did my troubles.

Where was the last place we met? The Dogonyaro tree? Was that not also the first? Except we walked away together the first time and parted ways the last time. Do you still have memories of that day? You never said goodbye, and I never got to say sorry. Can you still feel things? You know, like when you laugh hard and hold your chest like they are pained from joy or when you cry and burn up red. How about people’s presence? You could always tell I was around even before I came into your sight, or was it just a childhood drama?

You always stole chalk for our puerile political rallies. You were always the bold and intelligent one. Was it your father, or did you hear it from the street? How did you always conclude you knew the best candidate for every position? Was it not silly to write names on the tarred road every evening during the election period? What did you mean by, if we can’t vote, we can tell others who to vote for? Did you really think people paid attention to names scribbled on the road by schoolchildren? It felt so good when you did the spelling, and I did all the writing because you said my writing was mature. That was the only thing I was better at than you were.

How long has it been? Twelve years and fifty-four days? Not that I meant to keep count, it’s just that we both happen to be pretty good at math, and you probably keep count too. Do you? Not keep count, do you ever miss me? Your mother was at church the other day. She said you were home, and she asked me if I knew you were home. She laughed loud and cried for the most part, and your sister took her away, apologising to me. Was it not my fault? I never should have let her see me. It is also my fault you are not here. I tore open her newly sutured wound with my greeting; I should apologise. Where are you, Okwy? Do you not remember who you are, or have you gone to the other side? You do plan to show up someday, right?

White always looked radiant on you. You looked angelic during our first holy communion and confirmation. Do you remember how we held hands and prayed the rosary together? People even called us twins. Our mothers were proud, and do you remember we caught my brother and your sister giving each other suspicious looks that made us giggle – were we not too young to understand? All of that is now dreadful but treasured memories. Our families barely see eye to eye now.

Is Medicine still your thing? You said you wanted to be a doctor to make people happy. I borrowed your dream because I couldn’t come up with any, or perhaps, I felt I had to live the life I took away from you. Every day, the scrub reminds me of you. I never want to commit the sin of forgetting. Do you also blame me? Of course, you should. I should never have gone home without you over an insignificant fight. What was it about? Hundred naira abi umbrella? Why didn’t you leave immediately after I left? What did you stay back doing in school? Did you go plucking cashews or playing with the tap water, or were you too sad to go home alone? Don’t tell me you went to read in a corner, Okwy? Books always get you into trouble, like when you hid under the shelf and were locked up. I am sorry. I shouldn’t be doing this.

After you went missing that day, all our lives changed – you took a chunk of mine with you. I have forgotten how to do many things, like friendship. How do people make friends? Is it normal to sink into desperate loneliness? To fear the sound of ‘hey! I like you’ or a smile from another? You wouldn’t know such things; you are too perfect and lovable. So, do you have a best friend, the BFF kind, you know, forever?

When the gateman and other eyewitnesses narrated how you were abducted outside the school, I fainted. Not like those times we held our breaths to fake it and get away with punishments. I actually went blank, the world fell still, and all I heard was your name. When I think about you, my heart aches like tiny needles are pricking them, and it throbs too fast. When I try not to, it turns numb, so numb I feel unalive.

You escaped? When the kidnappers were apprehended and confessed how they lost you, that was the first time I hated you. I couldn’t stand that you were so cunning and witty. I couldn’t stand you for always being steps ahead of adults, like when you made your father pay for a Mathset and mathematical set simply because he couldn’t tell they were the same. The police kept searching, your family never gave up, and neither did I. But when time stacks up to become so thick, hope fades. Trust me, I try daily to keep the hope fresh because you would do the same. So, what’s the story? Did you hit your head and lose your memory? Do you live with a farmer on the outskirts of some town? Were you washed up on a river in a foreign community where you could not communicate with them? Was it the river Niger you fell into? You didn’t die from hunger in a forest, right? When will you be showing up, Okwy? If only I had entertained a sane thought for five seconds that day, we would have gone home together.

It was an erratic day at the hospital when I caught a glimpse of the lady on the screen. That was the second time the world fell still. The dimples, her smile, the way she stared, they were unmistakably just like yours. My numb heart pounded so fast, I felt reborn. The thought of you being her made me reach for support as my lower limbs failed terribly. I tried to hold back, but my eyes had produced a flood before I realised.

Sophia Nwadike, could she be you?














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