It was a night. It was in 2006, sometimes in March. It was close to 11:45pm and I was cracking jokes with friends. There is a stocky woman who sold food on Awoyokun Street. She sets her wares around 11:30pm, mostly for the tired bus conductors. Most times I go there for a late night meal before I finally go to sleep. I love dinners a lot. I thought without eating one, it’s an sign of poverty. While we argued on football on the whispering night ready for that short walk to the roadside restaurant, I heard a voice.
It was my father calling. He spoke only once. Once was enough. It was of a man soaked of in tears within but controlling the outpour. My soft-spoken father never called me that way. He spoke so loud only in cases my disobedience reached the brim.
My sibling was yet at home and the clock raced toward midnight. We sat in the room on bended heads. Phones rang from Lagos to Ibadan, where my mum and other siblings lived. No one, no single soul could sleep that night. With my suspended head, I dozed off waiting for dawn as he got ready waiting tirelessly for the clock to complete every hour.
Before Lagos woke from its deep slumber, he was on that first bus to Ibadan. The next morning I was to take a test with Phillips for my internship. My Dad encouraged me to go. It was with mixed feeling and an unclear head. My sibling walked back to the house in the morning. What a night – of tarnished souls full of dread and imaginations of any possibility.
The next scenario was while in the University. My lovely mum with endless ocean of care, heard we just had a riot a in school. She learnt it was ‘bloody’ with soldiers shooting rapidly. She was always suspicious of my activism but she never knew I was so deep into it, that I aimed to contest for Student Union President.
She left Ibadan to find our where I was. She came to Abeokuta. She asked where I was yet no one to tell. My neighbours knew I was in my engineering compatriots’ house in Eleweran but no one knew the exact address. It was an epileptic phone with tall straight receiver but with low power to receive signals. That night, my mum slept in my room. For my Mum, that night, walls turned to fences, fences to gates and gates into borders. She could not sleep still not convinced of my location. I came home that day by noon only to hear the tale of her misery. I called her and left for Ibadan immediately. She had no cool words for agony I put her through. She had no cool words till dusk.
On two occasions, my parents doubted where my sibling or I was. It was nothing to delight about. Imagine those without their daughter for 110 days. Those who have been caked in dusty swirl of hope waiting for when they will feel the embrace of their daughters. Imagine seeing a terrorist and a psychopath lay behind armoured tanks dress daughters and sons in long satin using them as tools for negotiation. Imagine the unimaginable – of what insurgents weary from a battle can do to hapless girls. Imagine the trauma of those who count days into months and time has lost its essence. It is a cruel world where humanity seems like an activist tag and the government with the all the resources seems helpless to protect its own. How long shall we wait? How long shall we tarry with long faces for the Chibok Girls? We want them back NOW & ALIVE.