I stopped just by the edge of the road;
My outing forgotten, as I could not help but stare at her.
“Save me! Help me!” she cried,
Her voice broken and hoarse.
“Save me!” she whispered again;
Eyes darting frantically,
Echoing her pleas for mercy.
“Witch” Baba Yéwándé bellowed,
Sending spurts of saliva in every direction.
“Kidnapper!” Iya Mojí shouted,
Holding Mojí against her bosom tightly.
I stood and watched from amidst the crowd,
As the men brought the tires and fuel.
Time to mete out justice!
Oh I stood there, feet unmoving
As they lit her up into a human torch.
Oh I stood and watched her
Run, scream and roll.
My heart turned and turned
As I watched the flames lick up
Every part of her that’s flesh and blood.
I stood there and watched, I could not do anything,
Couldn’t show the slightest sign of compassion.
For the fear of being labeled her accomplice.
My heart sending silent messages of apology to her.
For the cruel injustice, her helplessness
And then mine.
Oh, I knew she felt them!
Her eyes sought mine from amidst the flames.
And remained fixed on mine even as life left her.
Even as all that was left was ashes
And the memory of her.
I hear her cries every night;
Loud screams, then hoarse whispers.
I see her face too; Swollen. Battered. Bleeding.
Oh, I see her eyes too; Unmoving, lifeless.
And I wonder every minute of the day,
If, maybe, I had done something
Other than just stare,
Could her fate have been better?
If I had shown the least sign of compassion,
Maybe my soul would be less troubled and at peace.
She was called Títí.