One of the criticisms I often face from my close friends and relatives is that I hardly call them. To be candid, I barely make phone calls unless it is absolutely necessary. Even when I get free airtime from mobile network operators, I watch helplessly as the credits go unused. That’s how terrible a caller I am.
But then, even the ‘tough’ me gets emotional sometimes whenever I haven’t spoken with my mum for a while. I suddenly feel the need to hear her voice and to know about her well-being. I pick up the phone and make the call.
It’s been two years since the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls. One can hardly imagine the anguish the parents of the girls must have been going through. It is painful enough to have your kids taken from you – a girl you cuddled as a baby, nurtured as a kid, watch grow up into an intelligent girl, sell some of your belongings to pay her school fees with the hope that she would excel in her studies and somedays have a great home and career, and eventually take the family out of their penury. It is a misery no one should be subjected to. It is even more troubling when you know they have been taken by savages whose only source of delight is seeing other people in agony. No words can express how distressing it must have been for the parents.
Imagine Hauwa’s mother who has been trying to get on with life after the abduction. She goes out to prepare the meal for the rest of the family under the hut at the backyard. She needs somebody to help her with the salt from the pantry in the house. As she tries to call one of the kids in the house, Hauwa’s name was the first on her lips, and that reminds her of the trouble her kid might be going through in the camp of the terrorists. She most likely will go to bed that night without eating the meal.
What about Awa’s mother? Before the abduction, it’s Awa’s duty to fill the water jars in the house with water from the stream. Awa’s mother is tired on her return from the market, she wants to take a bath but the water jar is empty. Almost instantly she is reminded of her daughter travails in captivity.
Who will console Deborah’s father? He spent extra hours labouring in the farm to raise the money for Deborah’s studies. Every schoolgirl he now sees only reminds him of his kidnapped daughter. What a traumatic experience.
Instead of putting in concerted efforts towards rescuing the girls, there have been attempts to make us forget the abduction for political expediencies. The parents have been falsely accused, the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners have been mocked, and sometimes threatened but they have remained resolute. We will forever be grateful to those who have kept Chibok in our consciousness.
Though we know little about the girls’ present state and hope appears to be fading as the days go by, we refuse to give up on them. We hope that from Chibok – which so far has become the symbol of our ineptitude and insensitivity – songs of hope, courage and strength will rise. We hope they come home soon! #BringBackOurGirls