Nkiruka opens her eyes and feels the now familiar pain tighten her chest as her reality comes flooding back after a night of little reprieve in the form of a fitful sleep.
It has been five years but the pain hasn’t dulled even a little bit, it is now like a very familiar, if uncomfortable heavy bag she drags around with her everyday, it feels like she has just been going through the motions these past five years.
She knows in her heart that she stopped living that afternoon, five years ago, that seems just like yesterday, when her daughter skipped around a corner ahead of her on the way home from school and simply vanished.
She remembers like it was yesterday the moment it hit her that her daughter wasn’t simply playing hide and seek as was her habit, she remembers feeling like the world was spinning around so fast, she couldn’t see anything or hear anything, while at the same time feeling like all of her senses were heightened, she couldn’t stop screaming her daughter’s name, she couldn’t stop running around, all the while almost sure her daughter would jump out and run into her arms anytime now.
She remembers the exact moment concern changed to panic and her heart beat so fast and so loud she was sure it could be heard for miles and that one of those would be its final beat.
But that horrible dream hasn’t ended five years on, she puts her hand to her face and finds it wet from tears she hadn’t even been aware she was crying, she wipes them away slowly, and summoning all of her strength and will-power, she gets out of bed, willing herself to get up and continue existing, it is another day to struggle through.
She doesn’t look in the direction of her daughter’s room, just as she doesn’t look at her pictures or imagine what she would look like today.
She also has her name tucked far at the back of her mind, she doesn’t even think it, not since that day one year after. when she had finally accepted that the chances of finding her were getting very slim, sometimes it seems to her like she’s keeping that name safe, the way she was never able to keep her daughter safe.
And no matter how hard she tries, her thoughts everyday are filled with that beautiful girl that had been the light of her life, she still wakes up most mornings with the feeling that she might just have awoken from a nightmare and her daughter might come bounding in like she does regularly to start chattering rapidly about some school story she had forgotten to tell her the day before. That sweet, sweet voice used to fill the house, causing she and her husband to laugh hysterically sometimes, they did seem like the perfect little family and they really were. They were so happy.
Now the only sounds that fill the house are the ghostly creaks of an empty house and her cries late at night and the only voices in the house are her thoughts and memories; her daughter’s voice, talking, singing, oh how she loved to sing… her daughter’s laughter.
Her husband has long since moved on, made for himself a new perfect family, she couldn’t really blame him, five years is a long time. Or is it?
Her friends and colleagues have slowly started to avoid her, as they do not know how to act around her anymore, she couldn’t really blame them either, she just can’t seem to summon the strength to do more than exist a day at a time.
She struggles to shut out her thoughts as she lay on her bed and shut her eyes in a bid to find sleep, tomorrow is another day to do battle with her ghosts.
…to be continued