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“Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace. You can help me. You can open for me the portals of death’s house, for love is always with you, and love is stronger than death is.”

Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost

For years, I wondered why my father loved and adored that poem. Every morning, he would look at the plaque in which the poem was inscribed, his fingers lightly touching the inscriptions with reverence and care like you would a baby.

Till his death, Abba recited that poem daily, unfailingly, it seemed he gave him peace and perhaps strength.

Today 11th May 2016, I would say I grasped a bit if not entirely the precise meaning of that poem.

For the first time in my life, I could share in the wisdom of Abba and this happened to be the worst day of my life. Today, it is exactly four years since Abba’s demise and I am here held helpless in the clutches of a woman. Or should I say a beast?

On this day, I remembered all the fond memories I had with my family. Abba’s warm hands. The delicious aroma of my mum’s soup which would be eaten with Tuwon Masara. The cries of my two-year-old sister Fatima. The numerous houses that help that lived in our house going about their daily activities.

As a child, I enjoyed the love and affection I was showered upon. But today I realized that I may have taken it for granted.

No Abba’s warm hands and Umma’s food, no smiles and kinds words, and my heart hurt deeply. Today I understood the expression. The pain sliced through the heart like a hot knife through butter. And more than ever, I missed Abba.

Was I just incapable of been loved? To have what others enjoyed?

Did one just get a single lone shot at happiness?

“Sameer”

Her loud voice bellowed in the huge estate that the birds lodged in the tall coconut tree were frightened and flew away. The bitterness that encompassed my name was great and sounded like bile. Somehow, I felt she hated calling my name and all she wanted to do was spit it out with scorn.

“The dishes won’t clean themselves. Get to it.”

The single command was enough. She paraded and passed me on her way out like a peacock with its gander. Her two children following her like a soldier would follow their commander. They were going to yet another wedding despite her husband’s warning.

But something was amiss. An odd feeling hung in the air. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what, but I was sure it wasn’t a hunch. I was sure as hell that something bad would happen. Besides, I felt a twitch in my popliteal region; behind my knee. 11th May 2016, I felt the same intuition, six hours later, my dad died.

Was it happening again? I hoped not

“But…” I faltered. “Can the kids stay home with me today?”

Despite her mean attitude, the kids were angels who loved and adored me.

“No. Get to work”. Was the curt reply. Their eyes lingered on mine as they watched me with longing. I had a bad premonition. Something would go wrong. I just know it.

If you have read the story of Aneesah in purple ribbon, then you must have come across the eight-year-old boy who fetched the water for thirteen rounds.

Yes, thirteen rounds. I am that boy.

My name is Sameer, and this is my story!


Without an anchor follows the happy childhood of a young boy in Maiduguri, Borno State, whose happiness was cut short when his parents were killed during the insurgency that plagued the region. His father’s demise forced him to a life he could barely handle. Living with relatives was a tough life for him till a turning point arrived, but by then wouldn’t it be too late?

This story also hopes to cover what children and teenagers acting as house helps suffer from their guardians. Children in such an environment are open to sexual predators and gender discrimination with no one to look after them or their plight.

Sadly, lives have been lost. Hopefully, with a book like this, more people will be aware of the plights of domestic helps and why they should be protected.

Next Episode (18th April)

Gambo Deborah Bawa
About the Author Gambo Deborah Bawa

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