For the first ten days, we nourished on disbelief. We said, ‘this could not be happening.’ Though we woke-up every next morning to see their ugly faces, we slept again each night in denial, hoping that when we woke, we will be in our beds – at home. We pinched ourselves… it did not work; we hardly believed it would. As we moved and responded to their orders those first days, we were sometimes stubborn, some of us got hit. This was because we still believed we were valuable, humans who could not be subjected to such a harsh reality.
The next ten days was our rude awakening. We realized this was no dream. We had gotten used to our captors’ names and faces. The forest as a new home was becoming familiar to us. This was real. We were abductees, forceful guests of the terrorists’ lair. We realized these days that we were not by any chance the first abductees of Boko Haram – there were girls here, abducted years ago. Mothers, who’d had kids in these camps. Young men, abducted and forced to fight for Boko Haram. We realized that things will never be the same again. We started to settle. We realized we had to be nice. And when some of us died – from snake bites, from rape and infections, and being shot, we realized our destiny did not have the pleasant stories of life in it, the sweet ending tales, but that ours was to be a story written with pain and blood. In these days we cried. We thought of home and saw our parents shriveling away. We felt them die. We knew they were dying. Lord have mercy on them.
By the third ten days we had begun to adapt. With cold hearts, we teased ourselves. ‘You are his wife, I will be his wife,’ we played. There was no fighting here. Though we wished to die and that death would give us peace as it had given some of our more fortunate classmates, a primordial instinct of survival kept most of us from giving up. Some of us cut ourselves, attempting suicide. We watched as their failed attempts left them worse off for it; their wounds treated with what they had of bandages and antibiotics and new wounds made in their backs with the cane, for trying to take their lives. In these days we had a new inkling of hope… we had heard a rumor that the Americans had come. We kept looking to the skies, hopeful of some stealth copters flying in and some Navy Seals picking out our captors and leading what was left of us to freedom – for whatever that would be worth.
By the fourth ten days, our hopes of rescue dissipated into the reality of our new chores. It was a life of little food and much work. This is not the type of work we would like to write about. Cooking and cleaning for the camps was the best part of it. At night, swallowing tears, we warmed their beds. We will never get used to this life. This is not the kind of life you wish on your worst enemies. This was not what many of us saved our virginity for. This was not what our parents taught us chastity for. This was hell. Where was our rescue? Does the world know we are here? We hated the world. We could not understand why the world would leave us here? Something must have happened. Have they forgotten us? Perhaps a catastrophe had wiped out all of humanity… because we could just not imagine how nothing had yet happened to free us from this. People could simply not just be living their day-to-day lives in Nigeria and across the world, abandoning us schoolgirls to this life with these beasts. All we had was God. All we have was God. We prayed God took us to Him.