letter to nigerian mother of abducted girl.

kidnapped nigerian girls

Photo taken in Luwero, Uganda with my Canon SLR: Sept. 2009

Dear Nigerian mother of abducted girl,

She is still your baby girl, even with her teenage long, lanky legs in her school uniform. I imagine you smiling that morning, grazing her cheek with your lips as you prepare breakfast for your family. Your husband makes you laugh, a private joke, and in the corner if your eye you see your baby girl say bye.

You finish your work fast that morning. The air is still without your daughter’s singing in your home. Your sons are already long gone to work. You go to bathe yourself, letting the water cleanse your body, the areas of roundness your children have brought to it.

As you get dressed, you hear your mother arrive. You know she is bringing the jackfruit your husband and daughter love from the main market.

Then, it’s all a blur.

You do not even remember where you were, what you were doing when you were informed.

I can feel your numbness. You could not breathe.

When you woke up, your husband was crying. Have you died? It feels as if you have left your body.

Your baby girl’s face floods your mind.

And I am flooded with your pain. I am a mother. I have a daughter. It is all I need to feel connected to you, to ache for you.

Is this a sick joke?

My stomach churns.

You want to tell me your thoughts though. There are moments of anger. There are moments of grief…of hope. The emotions are fleeting, but… the pain. The pain, you say, is just there. And it just kills your words.

Yesterday, it was Mother’s Day in the U.S. and although I should have felt like pampering myself and “taking the day off”, all I wanted to do fly on a plane and find you. Hold you and the other 275 mothers who have lost their daughters to the sickness of this toxic fundamentalism. Fight with you. Stand by you as we eradicate this poison. They say it was done in the name of Islam. Whatever they say, it’s just poison, and its the men in power, ones with greed driven egos who have created this poison in our world. It is not the deep rooted spiritual philosophy I have heard Islam can be. Or any religion.

But it doesn’t matter.  They said they will sell these girls. They say the girls should not be educated.

This selfishness, crazy minded ones were bearable at one point. The women, you and I, we were able to turn the other cheek to some things like war. Even then, you say, we lost sons.

But you see, now it’s our innocent girls. You see, if its not the 276 baby girls they have taken for Islam in Nigeria, it’s the 8.4 million children in the world who are thrown into the active slave trade scarring the beauty of true faith. In the Catholicism of Eastern Europe and South America, Christianity of the US and Canada, the Jews in Israel, the Hindu Indian and Nepali lands and the Buddhist Thailand cities to name a few.

I’m sorry, I digressed, it just…makes my blood boil.

It has been 3 weeks now.

And every morning your bones still ache with loss.

In your news run photographed tears, you are calling me. The world. Pleading to wake up for your baby girl to come home. For our baby girls. Every single one of them.

So I’m here, listening. Here, praying. Yes fellow momma, We must find your baby girl.

-Puja Shah


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