This story is really special to me, since it’s my very first completed one and my first tribute to the Chibok Girls, hope you like it.
I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t. it had been almost a year since she was gone and yet I couldn’t let go, I couldn’t forget the way her hair flowed in the wind, or the way she giggled out of joy when she was tickled or pushed high up on a swing, Melissa.
“I’ll name her star” she said, clinging to her new bear. It was a prize she had won at school, she was constantly being praised as the best academic student in her year and it was rumoured that she was due for a scholarship, but that was the funny thing about Melissa, she learnt because she wanted to and she was curious, not because of any reward. Right from her birth, I knew she was special, that’s why I also gave her the name Dúutsèn Wúyàa, Jewel and Melissa, honey bee. It was also my late wife’s dying wish. Melissa was a living reminder of my late wife, brave, determined and strong and each day I saw her I couldn’t help remembering the woman I once shared a life with. A scar that had never truly healed.
She was going back to school tomorrow morning and we were busy getting ready, it was my favourite thing to do, helping her get ready. It was amusing the way she appeared flustered when she knew she was forgetting something but couldn’t remember exactly what, I still remember that day, the last day we spent together. We had just finished buying her provisions and we were both tired, I kissed her goodnight and went to bed myself, I personally never liked boarding school, in the words of one of my secondary school teachers it was ‘prison for children’, but I assumed it was for the best and I enrolled her into the school seeing as it was the best in the town.
So I sat there in her room staring at where star used to be placed and I couldn’t help the tear that fell on my face. “John,it’s time” a voice behind me said, interrupting my reverie. I turned around to face my brother, Michael. Before today it had been years since we talked. The pain that had come from that day still lingered in our minds. My heart sank, I had been dreading this moment for so long, it was the symbolic meaning of the whole thing, the cruel finalization. She was really gone.
A child’s funeral is easily the most painful and saddest thing in existence. The fact that death could snatch someone so young, so innocent is just too much to bear for some. I was one of those people, here I was sitting at my own child’s funeral wondering how it had gone so wrong so fast. What made it worse was that there was no body to bury.
She had gone to school that morning, all dressed up and eager to get to school, I smiled at that, she was probably the only ten year old that actually enjoyed school. I silently waited for the “question”, she always asked it and I couldn’t blame her because silently I asked myself the same thing.
“Where’s mommy?” she always asked
“I don’t know” I always answered because I knew that if I told her the truth, it would break her heart.
“Bye” she said as she went to the school bus, I replied saying bye with a smile, little did I know that I would never say that to her again.
And then, she was just gone. I remember shouting and screaming at night, this was normally a quiet town I thought, “who would make trouble in Chibok?” I said to myself.
Gunshots were fired and the sounds reverberated all over the town, there was chaos all around and yet I didn’t know what was wrong. I will always regret that moment, not doing anything, hiding in cowardice, I should’ve done something, but what?
After the assailants had left and the dust settled, the cruel realisation of what they had done solidified, I didn’t waste time shouting and crying like the others, it was of no use, I had lost my wife and now my daughter. I was broken. She was gone.
I was asked at the funeral to say a few words but I couldn’t, the very fact that we were even having a funeral was a sign that we had given up hope, since that day I hadn’t been myself, I was simply an empty shell of the man I used to be. After the funeral I was approached by a lanky man who didn’t look like he had washed in some time, as he came closer I suddenly recognised him, he was the caretaker. It was irrational but I harboured a lot of resentment for the man, I kept on feeling that he could’ve done more. He gave his condolences and after he gave me a parcel, he said that he had been cleaning the rooms in which the girls slept and he found it, he knew it belonged to my daughter and he thought it was right that I should have it.
So here I wait, after a year and yet she hasn’t come back to me, even the military troops from abroad had thought of it as a lost cause but I couldn’t do that. So here I wait as they struggle for power almost a year after and yet no one has brought my little girls home. I sit at my porch waiting, clinging to Star, waiting for my honey bee to come home.