Oya madam come with us! A Nigerian immigration official said to me. Oh, Lord! I thought this was all over. I just want to go home and cry myself to sleep. So tell us what happened, the officials tried to probe me for some information. In my weakness, I had to explain my ordeal to them. Okay madam we hear you, they answered me. But we will have to seize your passport, for now, then you will answer to our bosses. What? After all the stress I went through in Atlanta? These people think I have the energy for more wahala.
Madam look eh, I am not feeling fine, I haven't eaten for two days, and I can't afford any more stress. Please give me my passport so I can go home. Okay, it will cost you $100. That is fine, I quickly answered her. I know there are people who have given their lives to fighting corruption in this country, and I didn’t wish to be an enabler, but at that point, if all it took was $100 to get me home, I was willing to give it, so I could just make it back and gather my thoughts. I am sorry Nigerian Government.
Image courtesy of Unsplash
My brother and cousin picked me up, with my suitcases not getting the memo that we were not allowed into the United States. They decided to stay an extra two days, but I didn't have that privilege. So off to the department stores we went. I needed to get toiletries, underwear and some other personal items. With tears constantly streaming down my eyes, and with me thinking: are my village people responsible for this? Oh, snap out of it Evi! You are too enlightened to reason that way.
But how could this be? I didn't see it coming. The people on the flight avoided me like the plague, when they saw the police officer walk me to my seat. Maybe they felt I was a criminal of some sort. I asked the lady who sat next to me, to use her phone, to call my friend, to inform my family that I was on my way home, and she refused. It was a man, a Good Samaritan, who offered me his cell phone. Whatever went through that lady's head, I would never know.
Where was I going to start from? My goodness! I never thought this was going to be my story. Immediately I started looking at US immigration lawyers who could help me with my case. They all advised that I should relax, because of the current climate in their country. “If there is no emergency bringing you back here, I will advise that you lay low for about a year. Get a job, settle down, and then we can revisit your case in one year.” One of the lawyers advised.
I went over to the USCIS website to see what other options I had, but most were leaning towards if your life was in danger-type-situation, then we can help you.
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. Although he didn’t force me to come back, and would later reveal that he was scared when I told him I was going to make the trip. I wrestled with thoughts in my head for days. I didn’t have it in me to pray anymore.
Pray? What Prayer? All the prayer I prayed in Atlanta yielded nothing. Abeg leave matter for Matthias. I begged God to help me, and He blatantly refused. I don’t know if I was mad at God, or mad at myself, but I was just mad. People who didn't know that I went to the US and returned two days later, kept saying to me, "Ah Evi you are still in Nigeria?" Yes, I moved back was my usual response. My family tried all they could, to console me in that period. They also didn’t disclose to others, what really happened.
Evi what are you going to do with your life now? What's next? When are you going back? I was always plagued with these questions. If only everyone would just let me be and wallow in my depression. Shame overtook me. I could not tell people why I was back home again. But really, how was I going to say to people, that I was deported and barred from the country I loved so much and lived in for 11 years?
Slowly I had to get used to the reality of things. Just remove America from your mind, I will often tell myself. Try and make a life for yourself here, after all this is what your mother wanted. I had to call my job to tell them I wasn’t returning for a while, rally my friends together to help me pack up my apartment and sell my property. I had to get used to the idea that I was in Nigeria now, and had to toughen up. Let the adventure, begin.
Welcome to Nigeria
My shipment arrived, but my brand new iPad was missing. I was looking forward to my iPad, as an Apple lover, I could not do without my devices. I ordered one from Amazon, had it engraved: ‘Evi the Apple of God’s eyes.’ See what I did there? But this shipping company was telling me stories that touch, saying: We didn’t see any iPad! Look I don’t care if the iPad didn’t make it from the US or past the immigration point in Lagos, all I know is that I ordered an iPad, and I need it.
Still no response from them, then I started with the threats, as most Nigerians only respond to threats. Look if you guys don’t provide my item, the next time I come here, I will come with the police. There is no reason for us to bring the police into this matter madam, they quickly replied, how much was it? We will refund you. I remember taking this route with my bank as well, after weeks of the bank app not working, I threatened to take my business elsewhere, and that same day it started working miraculously. But these threats don’t move some people oh! The tough ones, like my estate management.
‘Hello? Hello? Why is this lady not answering me? I have no running water in my house! And I pay for water, but she keeps ignoring my calls. ‘Hello? Madam? I have been trying to reach you, no water, no light! You guys have been ignoring my phone calls! How can I pay for water and light and not get the services I paid for?’ I was so upset with the estate management for the place I lived in. They refused to carry out their duties. That day I burst into tears, this wouldn’t happen in America! But there was no hope of me returning anytime soon, I had to get used to the way things worked here.
Like you paying for an artisan’s service, and him still expecting you to give him transport fare after he is done with his job. I thought people included all of that in their bill. Or paying for someone to come and work on the roof in your house, and he comes without a scaffold. Guy! I am not a painter like you, you should know the equipment you work with, and should have them available. Or the constant insults you have to reign on the drivers of buses, who put no one's best interest before theirs and drive so recklessly. How will I survive?
Loss is a series, that covers my unexpected move back to Nigeria. You can catch up on Part 1 here, and be on the look out for other parts in the future.
Have you found yourself in such a difficult situation before? how did you deal with it? leave your comments below and let's talk about it. Remember also to like, share and subscribe to never miss an update.