I felt like a failure heading back to Lagos. I mean I had spent 11 years in America, and it was not like I was returning with millions of dollars. If I had millions I would have been able to solve my problem at the drop of a hat.
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I did not see this coming at all! If not I would had sat my behind in Lagos, or better still I for no comot from Lafayette at all. Are my village people responsible for this? Oh snap out of it Evi, you are too enlightened for that type of reasoning. You messed up; you messed up real bad, and are only reaping the consequences for your actions.
As soon as the plane touched down Murtala Muhammed International airport, I called my brother informing him of my arrival and he was already outside the airport waiting for me. After my phone call, the guy who lent me his phone to use while we were still in Atlanta asked me to return the favor, because now his US phone had stopped working, to which I obliged.
I had to wait for everyone to disembark the flight, before the chief air hostess came looking for me. I quickly reached my hands out to her to receive my brown envelope and she refused to give it to me stating that she had to hand it over to the immigration officials at the airport.
“I thought all of this was over” I said to myself. So I followed closely behind her as she walked me through the airport to where the officers were seated. She immediately gave it to them and they understood what was happening as if to say—we know, another defaulter has come back. The air-hostess left me and they started with their version of interrogation.
“Madam wetin happen now?” they asked me.
“I overstayed my visa after I graduated and failed to mention when I went to apply for a new visa.” All the while thinking—“please don’t put me through another round of interrogation.
“Ah madam, we will have to keep this envelope with us oh and then you will come to our office on Monday to discuss how you can get it. We are supposed to seize your passport.”
“Madam” I quickly responded to her “please don’t let me go through all of this again, I have already been through a lot and I cannot face another set of humiliation in Nigeria.”
“You look sick, are you okay?” she asked.
“No I am not, just give me my envelope let me go.”
“Okay if I have to give it to you, it will cost you $100.”
Done! And I handed her a hundred dollar bill. Lord knows I did not want to contribute to the corruption that was already drowning our society but at the same time I had no power in me for any battle in Nigeria. So if all it took was hundred bucks for me to leave with my stuff, I was game!
Afterward I left to the baggage claim area with my envelope in my hands, waiting for my luggage which never came. Apparently the luggage didn’t get the memo that I had been returned to Nigeria; they decided to stay an extra two days.
My brother gave me a big hug as soon as he set his eyes on me. I went ahead to call my dad saying that I had been picked up from the airport, to which he responded—“well, welcome back.” As we rode through the streets of Lagos, I did not believe that it was now my reality. The traffic, the not so great roads (to put this modestly), the less than 24 hour’s electricity! Ah my shows! Omg! How am I going to catch the latest episodes of the Wendy Williams show, The View or The Real? Church nko? My pastors had become my pseudo family.
I was going to be absent from Veronica’s baby shower, Linus's and my Bella Netty’s wedding! Sigh! Evi you are back in Lagos sha…so the dreams you were having really came to pass! Nawa for this God sef! Why did He have to show me every little thing that was going to happen in my life? I tried to quickly clean the tears in my eyes so that my brother wouldn’t notice I was crying.
We went to Shoprite that night to get me some toiletries and undergarment, since I had nothing with me. My cousin came over the next morning with some clothes for me to wear while I waited for my luggage to make it back. Everyone was heartbroken. I remember explaining to one of my friends that the entire experience felt like a death occurred; the death of life as I knew it.
My friends flooded my phone with calls and texts. Some of them said—“I told you so! You shouldn’t have left.” While others just wanted to know how I was doing emotionally and mentally. Well if you know the resilient girl that I am, I don’t spend too much time wallowing in self-pity. My bounce-back game is on a hundred, so I actually was doing okay. I just needed to find a way out of this mess. I was still hell bent on going back, either by hook or crook.
Two days later my luggage finally made it back. All the things I had purchased for my friends had to be sent through my brother's friend who was travelling. I also handed him my apartment keys and car keys, to give them to my friends in Lafayette, pending my next move. As if dealing with all of that wasn’t enough, I had to find a good hospital to have my surgery, because remember the fibroids were huge and had to be taken out a.s.a.p.
These people that I call family were my backbone through it all. They did not make me feel bad or even sad. I think our sadness lasted for a few days and then my brother started teasing me. Recently we were having a conversation with my dad, about people relocating to Canada.
My father was of the opinion that he could never relocate, he’d rather go and visit, because at his age what was he relocating for? My brother too is a die-hard naija lover, he came back home as soon as he was done with school. Like no one forced him to move back. So he shared in my dad’s sentiments. I chimed in saying me too oh, I don’t want to relocate, I have changed. And my brother gave me a stank look like—please! You did not have a choice. (haha) that is the yabbing I’ve been suffering since 2017 oh!
Although they felt it was a good thing that I had come back home for good (well for now, Mr. Perfect might be in the obodo, who knows? haha) they had pleaded with me all those years to return but I refused.
In fact my mom when she came visiting a year before she passed away, told one of my friends to make sure I moved back to Nigeria after I was done with school, but Eileen couldn’t convince me for nothing. I had no desire to honor my late mother’s wishes. I wanted things to happen my way.
Maybe this was God’s plans after all, some said. God? Abeg I cannot remember the last time we spoke. I and God are not on talking terms right now. He abandoned me when I needed Him the most. I mean it was easier to let go of my mother, but this one hurt mehn! My dream job, my white picket fence house, my Mr. Perfect and my green card; I had to give up those dreams for a future that I had no clue about. Where was I supposed to begin? NYSC? Chai! Evi na your life be this? Anyhow God dey!
So I took my time out to research the best hospitals in Lagos to have a fibroid operation and I found one, South Shore Women’s Hospital. I started consulting with them and during one of the tests it was discovered that my blood count was low, that meant we couldn’t proceed immediately with the surgery because it was going to be terminal if I lost blood while being operated on.
I was then put on supplements, and my aunty put me on her own regimen—drinking ugu juice, until my blood count increased. So while I was awaiting a surgery date, I was also communicating with immigration lawyers in the US and looking through the USCIS website for a possible way out.
“Just lay low for about a year and then contact us again. The stakes are really high right now, and your chances of getting your appeal denied are great.”
The website too offered no hope; most options were leaning towards if your life was in danger-type-situation, then we can help you. And there was no way for me to prove that, because my life was in no type of danger.
Nawa oh! This is even going to be more difficult than I thought; all of this just because I wanted to attend a wedding? But I had to be there for my brother, I really had to. There was no hope for me to return anytime soon. Maybe the reason why I was “okay” was because I harbored in one part of my mind that the lawyers were going to be able to take care of everything immediately. But the joke was on me, yet again.
The Shift is a multiple part story which covers my journey to moving back to Nigeria unexpectedly. Be sure to check out the website every week to continue with me as we explore this story about one of the most trying moments of my life.
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About The Author: Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer, and content creator on Letstalknationblog.com. She is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform––Let’s Talk Nation––to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations that would make a difference around the world.
Most of her writing has been influenced by her time spent in America, where she lived for about 11 years. Also, she lived in Nigeria and South Korea and currently loves traveling the world while learning about other fascinating cultures. You can find her on all social media platforms with @eviidoghor.