Somewhere in Iraq, Maheedah sleeps. It’s the first time she’d get to close her eyes in 5 days and as much as her aching muscles long for the temporary relief of the cold hard floor, her brain tremors with disapproval. There is nothing comforting about this sleep, nothing relaxing. The concrete floor is strewn with jagged shards of glass and occasionally, a mice would run across her aching limbs. From the distance, she can still hear the sounds of gun shots, tearing through the air like crazed locusts, the cry of a mother or child who has just lost a loved one would follow shortly after, then, heavy footsteps, pounding on the earth like angry pestles and leaving a cloud of dust in their wake.
Just last week, her entire village was raided by armed men in masks throwing bombs and beheading those who dared offer resistance. She had lost her momma in that saga, her head chopped off with the swift swish of a cutlass; momma was too stubborn, too loud, she never listened. They had escaped immediately, her, her poppa and Kazeem, making their way through the desert, hoping, praying for a refugee camp. Poppa only lasted a few days, his arthritis did even more harm than the gunshot wound on his left leg. She and Kazeem had continued the journey, trekking, shoveling, from desert to city. Only yesterday, Kazeem had given up the ghost. 3 more miles to the city but his system had failed him. Parched, starved and dehydrated, his 7 year old body could not withstand the strife.
In that brazen hole under the rubbles, Maheedah sleeps still, complicit with the fact that she is alone in this world of terror. The city she had hoped to find refuge in has been raided as well and nothing seems to matter anymore. She would lay there, unassuming, unafraid but aware, accepting that either today or tomorrow might be her last.
Somewhere in Nigeria, Amina prays. It’s been 6 months since she was abducted at school by the Boko Haram soldiers. The entire incident is a blur. One minute she’s writing the WAEC exams, hoping to get into a good university and the next, she’s being forced into a dark musty van, along with 233 other girls. Her cries yield no response, nor do her pleas for mercy. These men seem to have no heart, no sense of reasoning as they tear her legs apart in the dead of the night and plant unwanted fetuses in her; there’s three of them and their only form of identification lies in their distinctive groans. They seem to derive exclusive pleasure as they point a gun to her head and force her to slit the throat of an unassuming stranger. Yes, she and the 233 others would become either wives or soldiers.
Only yesterday, she was able to escape in the dead of the night. Tearing through the bushes in her wrapper and flip-flops. Her return did not bring as much happiness as she expected. Her parents have rejected her, she is a disgrace; her community calls her an outcast, she bears the seed of a terrorist. She sits under the mango tree on the outskirts of town with nothing but her wrapper and her flip-flops. She is only sixteen, so all she can do is pray.
Somewhere in America, Aisha hides, in a locker room down the hall of her community public school. The only crime she has committed is the sin of religion and race. From across the hall, she can hear the demeaning taunts of her mates “Bring back our girls”, “Stop terrorizing the world”. How does she explain to them that she didn’t choose this race, that her religion and that of the terrorists are not one and the same, that their acts of terrorism are only as a result of extremism and fanaticism, that her own Qur’an preaches genuine love thus her decision to be Muslim should not be quantified by the malpractices of fanatics. How does she tell them that she doesn’t deserve to be taunted for something she knows not about? She can’t, so she doesn’t. How long before the principal comes and dismisses this mob of sixth graders. The locker room seems the safest place for now, so she hides, away from the judgments, away from the world.
My heart goes out to everyone who has either lost a loved one or is in one way or the other suffering due to an after effect of terrorism. Lets endeavor to spread love always. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.- Galatians 3:28”