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Mother’s Day 2014 had me flaccid-limb supine, wrapped in the tickle of a sun-speckled robe and serenaded by a jay dueling with a nearby chainsaw. Chainsaws and rusty buckets only add to the charm of this place, this piece of warm earth under a watchful row of oaks and one flirty olive tree. This was a rare day of indulgence at a wine country spa and I was planning on an empty mind and a grateful calm.

~~ Buzz-kill alert! ~~

Instead, I thought about this, all day.

This list.

Lo, this list of names, 177 of the 200-plus teenage girls, stolen by a herd of evil on April 14 of this year. Lo, this list of girls who go to extraordinary lengths to get an education, girls who bravely attended a northern Nigerian boarding school to sit exams, and now they are in the process of being sold as wives or slaves, or raped, or both. Or worse.

I have no idea what it’s like to grow up there, and I’m hardly an expert on African politics or teenagers even, or the shit-heads who stole them. I don’t know this kind of trauma, but yesterday, when I read their individual names, they were dear to me.

  What's the point of Tele-Caring?

I debated myself.

  and what would you know of despair in a foreign land?

You’re right. I’m not Lugwa Mutah (number 109). My siblings’ survival did not depend on my ability to work. Education choices came on a platter. But, I was  a teenage girl, and the thought of teenage-me spirited away in the pre-dawn hour, taken from my teenage ups and downs, and thrust into somebody else’s idea of my life – that makes me ill. And I’m not Serah Samual, or Tabitha Helampa, and I never had to worry about being shot or kidnapped as I made my way to school. But I was a high school student on a tenuous path toward a three-dimensional life of my own. The idea of somebody derailing that: boils my brain.

And no, I’m not the mother of any of these beautiful girls, but I am a mother with a child leaning into the teenage years. And I know and love a young lady of sixteen who struggles and applies herself to life and learning.

And thus I am Amila Amoreb’s mother, and Palmata Musa’s mother. And Margret Watsai’s mother . . .

We are, all of us who mother, their mothers.

Aren't we?

Yesterday, on Mothers’ Day, the sun made a halo around each leaf of the olive tree above me. I closed my pampered eyes, ready to be done with thinking, ready for that kind of afternoon sleep that you can only have amidst the vines and when the breeze travels warm.

But sleep did not win. I cursed the list for making me feel useless, guilty.

I couldn’t do much, but I could pull out my iPhone and sign every available petition, like this one: http://chn.ge/RsBWWF. And I did.

It seemed unfair that heaven was with me at the same time as hell broke ground in different parts of the globe. That thought didn’t stop a butterfly from dancing to the top of the fence that framed my view, and posing as the perfect foreground to balconies of green –  sun-lit vines, bearded palms and shadowed mountains. I thought about smashing the butterfly into the elegantly weathered fence, just for being so prim and well, downright narcissistic.

Instead I made peace with the list, and read it again. Each name, a child with a mother.

I didn’t get to an empty mind, or anything resembling calm.

But in the end, I was okay with awake, and grateful.









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