The day my younger sister disappeared was the darkest day in our family’s history, the days following even darker.
It rained that morning and the family woke up to meet a quiet house.
This was unsual because Chioma loved the rain. She would squeal delightfully and run under the rain, my mother following behind threatening to beat her. She loved this routine so much she continued it, even when she was eighteen and getting older.
We tried not to panic for the first four hours. We figured she had gone outside and was stuck somewhere waiting for the rain to reduce. The real panic began five hours after the rain stopped and she still wasn’t back.
We raced to the police station to report her missing but they told us we had to wait for at least twenty four hours. My mum was frantic and my dad was trying to calm her down. I was trying to be calm too so I won’t make things worse but after one week, I couldn’t keep up the calm charade.
News spread round the town, my sister wasn’t the only young girl that went missing that day.
Fifteen others were unaccounted for. Rumors where they were being trafficked.
My mum couldn’t handle the grief. It destroyed her. Infact, it destroyed our whole family.
Everything changed. My mother blamed herself, she should have looked for her the second we didn’t see her that morning. My dad blamed himself, he was the man of the house, he shouldn’t have been asleep that night. I blamed myself, she slept in my room that night, they probably came to take me and found my sister instead.
After five years of spending all our family wealth, hiring private investigators, sponsoring the police investigation, my dad wanted to mourn his daughter and move on. He wanted peace and truthfully, so did I.My mum however wasn’t ready to give up, she said she wound turn the whole earth over just to find her daughter.
They finally divorced. My dad left Enugu to start a new life somewhere else where he would not be haunted by my sister again, but I stayed with my mother. Even if I wanted to stop the search and go with my dad father, I felt like I owed Chioma more than that.
Twelve years later, few months after I had my first child, my husband and I went to see my mum at home. It was raining that day too. The doorbell rang and I answered. I immediately recognized the person on the other side
I squealed and wrapped my hand around his neck. He was the first private investigator my dad hired to find my sister.
“Come in, we were just preparing dinner”
“No need baby girl.I don’t plan on staying long” he looked round “where’s your father?”
“He’s no longer here. He moved”
“Well, I need all of you around for what I want to say. So you call him. I’ll be back by the weekend. There’s someone you’d all like to meet”
The days that followed were the happiest day in our family history. He had finally found my sister. My dad arrived Enugu the following afternoon and we prepared for a homecoming. My parents danced that night and I watched them happily. I was finally going to see my sister.
The weekend arrived and so did the PI. He was about to enter the house when he topped to talk to someone behind him
“Come in. It’s okay, they’re your family, they won’t hurt you”
Why was Chioma afraid to come inside? My parents looked just as confused. Curiosity got the better of me and I rushed to the door and flung it wide open.
Standing in front of me was Chioma, the same age she was when she went missing. How was that even possible?
There was a painful throb in my heart as realisation dawned on me. This wasn’t Chioma, it was most definitely her daughter. She offered me a smile
This was definitely not the homecoming we were expecting