Dear Stranger,

You do not know me.

Those are the words you began your letter with, and those are the same words I am throwing back at you. You do not know me. So don’t act like you do.

You have no idea what my favourite food is, what my hobbies are, and who I associate with. You don’t know what my childhood was like. You could be given a sheet of paper to write about me and you wouldn’t get past one word. Shouldn’t a mother be able to fill a page or two? You have no birthing rights. None.

You do not know why my heart feels hollow as if someone carved a part out of it since the day I was born. A part of my life was missing. It was you, the missing piece. But I’d have rather lived without that missing piece than see the letter you wrote.

That letter didn’t fill the void in my heart; it further widened the chasm. It left me seeking, grasping, searching, and questioning. What do you mean by you needed to leave? Why would you ever need to leave? Why disguise selfish abandonment as self-preservation? Why, why, why?

People say that knowing is better than not knowing and that knowledge has an edge over ignorance, but after seeing your letter, I disagree. I was fine not knowing the truth about my birth, about your disappearance. I thought you were dead.

Everyone told me you died. It would have been better for me to forever think you died. Because how am I supposed to reconcile myself with the fact you abandoned me (yes, abandoned, though you say it’s too strong a word) and left me?

You hope I’m happy? How can I be? What makes people happy? A long-kept secret about their birth, a life built on deceit? Knowing that their mother didn’t love them enough to stay? If a mother can’t love her child, who else can?

You gave directions on how to find you. But why should I be the one searching? Why didn’t you find me and try to right your wrongs? Why me? Why me? No, I wouldn’t look for you. Not right now. I need answers but I’ll find them when I’m ready.

I frankly don’t care if you’re alive or not. But I hope you are so I can get answers. I hope you are living so I’ll be proof of how Papa did his best in raising me without you. I hope you get to see me so you can feel regret deep in your bones. Your child is grown, but you didn’t get to see that process. Your child survived and is successful without you, and she could’ve continued living without you.

Or maybe you wouldn’t feel sorrow or regret. Maybe you would rationalise it, telling me that I deserved better than you. And maybe I did. Maybe I do. But if I deserve better than you, why don’t you leave me completely? Your spirit is here, roaming through the walls. It seeps through closed doors, echoing in our hushed silences. Why do you inhabit my thoughts? Why do you seek abode in my heart? Just leave me alone. Please.


Leave me alone.

I do not know you.

You do not know me.

You never will.


Yours sincerely,

The girl who wants to be left alone.





Pamela Erhiakeme is a young writer who lives in Warri, Nigeria. She is an avid reader of books, which spurred her love for writing. In her spare time, she pens down her thoughts in the form of prose and poetry. She hopes to be a voice for young adults, one that is rarely seen in African Literature.

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