She drags her feet all across the other side of the room to reach out for the framed portrait of Nalumu. She places it closely to her chest, takes a deep gasp and limps back careful enough to not slip before lashing onto the arm of her rocking chair. She has sat there since the morning, seemingly cold and distanced from reality. Her eyes staring blankly at the screen, by then she had already muted the lady on the television.
Watching the news has always had a way of flooding back the emotions and fuelling reactions that she has learnt to bottle up inside of her. We are not allowed to mention Nalumu’s name in this house, we pretend as if she has died. My mother prays to her like a god, begging for her to return as if she is listening, as if she left.
It is the 14th of April 2018, marking the 4th year anniversary since the Chibok girls went missing. My mother has missed all my netball matches, and school mmeetings. She has forgotten every year after that to say happy birthday, or good morning, or thank you.
She is absent.
On days like this, when Nalumu’s memory is louder than all of us, we usually gather around my mother’s rocking chair and dance for her attention. We dance for her to notice, that remained, long after the #hashtag .