“You would be fine, see I know it is hard for you to bear the losses but you are not alone…” the voice trailed off.

— — — — —

“But mama, you never let me go anywhere” I stamped my feet in anger “that’s because I have a lot to worry about and I cannot add your whereabouts to the list” my mother said and my younger brother chuckled. I passed his side and attempted giving him a knocked which he dodged and shouted “mama!!”. “Shaibu!, if you touch that boy” my mother shouted in a tone I knew better than go against. My father died before my younger brother could say “papa” and his relatives of course took all his little properties and disappeared. Relatives that we never saw while he was alive o. My mother was left with the sole responsibility of taking care of us and it was one hell of a task. I joined my brother in the breaking of parm kernel nuts our Igbo neighbours gave us. We would use it later to drink garri amd hold our hungered soul together. I tried convincing my mother again. “But mom, it was Leah’s mother that invited me, please let me go and help my friend in the preparations. If not for anything, for our friendship and the goodies I would bring back”.

“ok Shaibu! Ah, before your saliva turns to cream on my body, you can go. I know we don’t have but please do not go and embarrass me among all those rich people. Take what is given to you and do not beg”. “Yes! Thank you mama. Waziri, ntoooor” I turned to my brother and jested. “you are shameless Shaibu, walahi” my mother said with a smile on her face. My family was all I had left. My education and career was snatched away by the terrorists that burnt down my school. The heart rending news of death of people I know at the breaking of dawn almost everyday, took away my fight and will to live. All I had left, was my family.

The party was a success and I had more than enough to take home. I would definitely show that big head Waziri pepper before he tastes anything I take home. As I walked to my house, I noticed people looking so sorrowful and my heart bled. Only one thing could have caused this, there was another attack. I felt so burdened and it had nothing to do with the load I was carrying. How much more? How much longer did we have to be preyed upon? Do we have to hide to save our heads?. I just ached to go home and run into the comforting arms of my mother that would slowly rock me and my brother as she says “the Lord has taken his own”. Suddenly, I didn’t want the goodies again. There was just an ache in my heart for my family. My brother’s beautiful but always jesting eyes and how he says “I lolo you” instead of “I love you”. I dropped the load and just ran as fast as my leg could carry me till I got home.

But instead of the comforting arm of my mother, strangers held me. Instead of the beautiful eyes of my brother, pitiful eyes beheld me and instead of my mothers assuring words, the representatives of the government that failed us in the first place said to me “you would be fine, we would make sure of that” but I knew I won’t be fine, it would never be the same. I wanted to pull at my hair and tear things apart as my world was being torn apart but I could not move, I was numb.