With only very few now having any clear idea of what has become of Leah Sharibu whom some people call “the living martyr”, Dr. Rimini K. Machunga of the Department of Family Medicine @ Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH) in Lafia, Nasarawa State of Nigeria falls back on poetry to get her to animate her birthday which passed quietly yesterday, May 14th, 2020.
Today is my birthday
I should have had friends and family around me to rejoice and celebrate with me
To eat rice and peppered meat, to probably cut a cake
To pray for me, to bless me, to petition the Lord for His divine favor upon my life
This was the tradition up until 2 years ago
Now my birthday is marked with tears; even tears of blood
How my mother must be crying, how my father must be having sleepless nights
Endless nights and many, many days of tears, anguish, sorrow, and the endless adjectives
There is no peace in my home, no peace in the heart of Mama, no peace in the mind of Baba
No peace in the souls of my aged Kakas, my brothers, my sisters; there is no peace!
Today is a day that I surely know, that it would have been much better if I had never been born
I should have never been conceived, Or perhaps I should have been miscarried or still born
I should have died of any of the numerous childhood pestilences
Oh I know! I should have been married off at the age of 13 and by now been a mother myself
O how foolish I was! How wrong my parents were! School? Why should a girl go to school?
Western education should be forbidden!
Hence a nation commemorates my own birthday while I am in the forest, the Evil forest, the forest of evil
I survived childhood. Will I survive this Evil forest?
Am I alive or am I dead? A meaningless question!
In this jungle, life and death are equal
What is death? I am not scared of death
Many horrors have I seen. Many horrors have I heard. Suffering without measure!
Death and horror is what you pay money to get thrilled by at the movies
My thrill would be to see Baba’s face and to be in Mama’s arms,
Once more before I die the final death
Are you all still going about your life? Yes, for life must go on
Thank you for starting a new tradition in my life/death
I do have a spirit and my spirit cries out from the deep forest of Sambisa
My name is Leah Sharibu. Remember me
Do not stop commemorating my every birthday, not yet
It comes just once every 365 days and for just a few minutes of your time…
Tell the world that it is a day I wish I was never born!