One sits in front of the family compound
Can’t remember the last time she has slept
One leads the march through the streets of the town
Flanked by hundreds of others just like her
Some hold lanterns to light the way home
Others hold hearts dying from wounds that can’t be seen
One kneels in a mosque
One kneels in a church
Each prays to a God who doesn’t seem to be listening
Because tonight he’s too busy healing the knees of arthritic crickets
Another night passes and the crickets cry with them
Where are our daughters?
Bring back our girls
Halfway across the world
One will be awoken by the sound of breakfast in bed
One will rejoice in the tradition of using materialism as a proxy for affection
Another will be completely forgotten
And yet another one will hold her own a little closer to her heart
After learning the fate of so many others just like her.
One will say it’s not my problem
One will join the clarion call
In a hospital,
In a hut,
By the side of the road somewhere,
One will begin a new kinship with generations of others just like her
One will leave the last little pieces of herself in the apple tree that sits at the center of the backyard of the house where her children grew up
One will laugh in utter disbelief at the moment when she realizes that she is just like the one she had.
One will ask of you to keep your brothers AND your sisters
For the tears of one who has lost a child is the same as that of many others just like her.
Mothers like her know the fear that they may never see their children again all too well
And I join these mothers in hoping that their children return to their arms safe and sound.
In America right now, there is a near constant barrage of ads for Mother’s Day, which is next week. Most of them will encourage the buying of goods and services with varying degrees of utility in hopes of somehow showing mom how special she is. It got me thinking about how different the experience of the mothers of the kidnapped girls from Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria must be at this time of year. I thought about what motherhood might mean to the extraordinary lives of ordinary women who share in that most sacred bond. Clearly, I am unqualified to speak on the subject in more ways than one. Humbly, I offer up these words to mothers everywhere in gratitude to the ones who raised me, in honor of those who share kinship with them, and with great sadness for the ones unjustly bereft of their children.