I tried so hard to hide my sobs; I mean I did not even have the hands to clean the tears that found a way to make an escape. The lady officer who sat with me at the back of the vehicle was asking if I was comfortable—but how comfortable could I have been with both hands tied behind my back? I tried to hide the pain I was feeling.
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On getting to the airport, I was pulled aside again; asked to stand facing a wall and then spread my legs, while they searched every inch of my being.
The female officer assigned to do the job, carefully searched my braids, and proceeded to other parts of my body. I was humiliated; what could I have possibly hidden in any part of my body, when they were practically following me everywhere like flies follows, you know what! After the search they took my purse which had my phone in it, so I could not even contact anyone. By this time they led me to another room which was a waiting room; with its bathroom enclosed in an area.
So I asked to make a phone call, because I needed my family to know what was happening. My request was granted, and I called my very good friend in the US asking her to put a call across to my brother, informing him of my predicament. Which she did. My family would later reveal that they were panicking and did not know what to do in that moment. My aunt woke everyone in the house at night to pray for me, once my brother informed her; there was nothing else they could do but pray. That night the room was so cold, and I wasn't given any blanket to warm myself. There was no way for me to regulate the temperature from the room, so I had to make do with my scarf; shivering my way throughout the night.
24 Hours In......
These people were ready to put me on the next thing smoking back to Africa, but I refused to leave. I tried to buy as much time as possible, asking to speak to whoever would listen to me but to no avail. By the next morning, I was given a tooth brush and tooth paste to freshen up. Since they seized my personal items, I had no access to anything, or to even take a shower.
They offered me food, crappy food be precise which I had no interest in. I requested to buy a sandwich from the airport area, although I had no appetite for food, and I was escorted to do so. I was given a little bit of leeway, this time around. I guess they saw that I wasn’t about to take off.
So the officer allowed me to take my time at the shop, while I browsed through religious books to see if I would find a Bible, but I didn’t. I proceeded to purchase a devotional. When I got back to the waiting room, I found a Bible there. I was so excited to pick it up but to my dismay it wasn’t in a language which I understood, English.
I went ahead to read it like that oh! God was going hear my prayers in one way or the other; even I had to recite Salmos 91 in Spanish. I spent the entire day crying out to God and confessing whatever passage of scripture came to my head. I needed Him to perform one of His miracles of the old. You know God was gangster back then! I don’t know if it’s too much know know, now displayed by humanity, which has caused us to longer see the miraculous like they did back in the day. But mehn! I needed Him, I needed His hands!
When night time rolled around, they informed me that I was leaving with a flight that night. It seemed like God had forsaken me; I came to a resolution that whatever happened, I was going to take it as His will. You know sometimes we like to fight and kick against His will for our lives. But in the end His way wins oh! No matter how much you fight, especially if He loves you! But trust me, I wasn’t even thinking of all of this when I was facing that difficult moment.
I then braced myself for the journey to the unknown. I was not at peace at all! I knew my family was going to be disappointed; especially my father. I did not know how I was going to face them.
A new normal
The time eventually came for me to leave, and the officers came in with various documents for me to sign. I was not allowed to travel to the United States or any of its territories for the next five years or even transit through their country. If I wanted to return before the five years was up, I had to have a darn good reason, and have an immigration lawyer plead my cause. I signed everything I needed to sign; I mean at that point I had nothing else to lose.
So they escorted me through some secret places in the airport; places I had never passed through in all my years of living abroad. And we somehow landed at the entrance leading up to the plane. They went ahead to print me a boarding pass, and then handed a brown envelope to the chief hostess in charge; Inside that envelope contained all the vital documents, my passport with my canceled visa and my mobile phone. Little did they know I had another phone with me; my naija phone.
They walked me up to my seat, and trust Nigerians now, everyone was just looking at me strange. Like I had killed someone! The officer left once he was sure the aircraft was about to take off and I had no chance of absconding. I then looked to the lady to my right, who had her baby sitting between the both of us and said to her;
Please can I use your phone to make a call?
‘My phone isn’t working.’ She responded and looked the other way!
Ah women! We are our own worst enemy! I thought to myself.
Then I looked to the guy to my left on the other side of the aircraft because I noticed he had just made a call and asked if I could use it, and he agreed immediately. Sure, call whoever you need to, he said. He must have noticed I tried using my naija phone, but it wasn’t working in Atlanta. Then the lady looked at me, like she felt bad for refusing me. Aunty if you don’t help me, somebody else will. Face front!
I proceeded to call my friend again—hello? Eileen…please call my brother, tell him I’m coming home and I will be landing in 12 hours.
Just recounting this scene brought back some sad memories! She couldn’t believe her ears. Life as I had known it for the past 11 years was gone in a twinkle of an eye. Only if I hadn’t lied, only if I was bold enough to say the truth, maybe things would have panned out differently. Was this God’s plan? Was this what He meant all those months when He spoke—“I know the plans I have for you”?
My heart was slowly breaking once again! “Evi, if your life doesn’t involve drama, then it has not begun! For the past eight years, I did not seem to catch a break. The loss of my mom, my boyfriend cheating on me with multiple women including my friend, now this? Why are you even here?
Thoughts like these lingered through my m