Imagine that they had been looking forward to going home to their parents, their siblings – brothers and sisters – their families. That they had been itching to start their WAEC and get it over with, that they had suspected, too, that their school was unsafe and they had feared that something frightening might happen, but they brushed their fears aside — after all, they had only their final exams to go and they would be free, free to go home, home, where it was safe, where there was nothing to fear.
Imagine that they were sixteen or seventeen or eighteen at most, just beginning to figure out life, just beginning to think of themselves as young adults, trying to work on their confidence, learning to tell boys ‘no’ and laughing at them with their friends, in private. That they had planned out their lives. Imagine that some of them wanted to be medical doctors as being a doctor was cool, imagine that they wanted to go to the university, that they wanted to study hard to become somebody in life. Somebody important, somebody that would be reckoned with.
Imagine that they had a hard time, in the first place, getting enrolled into secondary school as perhaps, their fathers may have thought that they were better off at home, with their mothers, learning how to cook, how to do the laundry, how to be submissive to their future husbands, how to be good wives. Imagine that they fought, cried all night, begged their fathers to take them to school, went on hunger strikes.
Imagine the day that they were kidnapped, bright maybe, like any other day in Chibok. That the sun rose in the morning from the East, the way it was supposed to, that they woke up and prayed to their God to guide and protect them. That they prayed about their forthcoming final exams and hoped for the best. That they went about their morning activities as they always did – normally, without fearing that it could be their last day of real freedom, freedom they could feel and believe in because they could see it, because it was present.
Imagine the terror that engulfed their minds when they began to hear gunshots, when they began to hear noises – shouts of people they knew. Teachers’ houses being razed into nothingness, into the gray dusts of ashes, of used char.
Imagine what was going through their minds as they were being ordered into trucks, piled in like a bunch of inanimate things, like industrial sardines, lifeless. Threatened with guns the length of human hands held firmly centimeters away from their forehead. Imagine their thoughts when the trucks started to move away, out of their school, a school that they had fought to get enrolled in. Imagine their tears as the trucks drove past forests. Those beady, sad, painful tears of uncertainty.
Now, imagine their disappointment having been abducted for two weeks with little or no hope of being rescued. Imagine what they are thinking right this moment. Perhaps they had hopes at first, but their hopes are being replaced with uncertainties, their hope is waning as the minutes are winding into hours, hours into days, days into weeks. They may never see their parents again, their siblings, their families, their friends.
Finally, if you dare, imagine what is being done to them right as you read this — the carnage, the gore, the lust. Just try and imagine what those girls are going through this very minute, because I can’t.