Aya rushed towards her home. She did not stop to look back. Someone would stop her and take her away. She had to rescue Sara. She wouldn’t go back without Sara. She wondered if they were calling out to her. It didn’t matter. She could no longer hear properly.
“You have to forget Sara,” her mother had said.
“She’s at home, mama. She will be all alone.”
“She’s no more. Nothing is anymore the same, Aya.”
Aya walked into the lane and looked around. She wondered if she had lost her way. The tree, beneath which she stood for her school van every day, had no leaves now. It stood naked with a dark burnt stump on the top. Aya went towards it and touched the bark checking for the familiar spot. There it was—the carved A and S next to each other. Her father had made that for her when they brought Sara home. Yes, this was her home; this pile of stones, rods, glass and wood was all that remained of her home.
Aya closed her eyes to think. She was playing with Sara in the bedroom when Mama asked her to go for a bath. She entered the bathroom and hung the towel on the rod when the loud noise shattered the glass window of the bathroom. Mama had barged into the bathroom, picked her up and ran out of the house. So, Sara must have been in the bedroom. Aya walked towards where the bedroom must have been.
She started picking up the pieces of rubble and throwing them to the side. It felt an impossible task. Some of the stones were too heavy and some were still smoldering. She caught sight of a sliver of pink. She closed her eyes to think. Yes, Sara had worn her favourite pink dress that day.
Aya walked towards the spot. A huge stone was blocking whatever was beneath. She slid her hand beneath the rock. She felt her hands clasp Sara’s little arm. With all the strength she could muster, she pulled out Sara with her right hand as her left hand kept pushing the rock away from her. She could feel the ragged edges of the stone graze her hands. She could see drops of blood ooze out of her skin.
Finally, Sara was in her arms. Yes, Mama was right. Sara was no more. She had lost one of her blue eyes, half her arm and one leg. Her pink dress was half burnt and all the hair on her head was missing. Black soot covered her head completely. Aya hugged her. Though she was no more the Sara that Aya had known, she would love her just the same. Always. A girl never forgets her first doll.