I ran into my father’s room early in the morning, I could barely get any sleep the night before, as the phone kept ringing non-stop. “Daddy where are you off to?” I asked, he was acting a bit confused, making his bed, putting on his shirt, and going back to make an already made bed. “We are heading to the hospital” He replied. Breathing heavily; my heartbeat became faster than usual, feeling like I was going to have a panic attack, while summoning all the courage within myself to ask one of the most difficult questions I have ever had to—“is she still alive?” to which he responded, I don’t think so.
Life usually takes us through ups and downs, teaching us lessons, refining us, and making us stronger along the way. I want to take you through the journey of my life, the significant events, which made me the woman that I am today. Be sure to sit back and enjoy the crazy ride!
The Fear factor
I was a very fearful child growing up. If you grew up watching Nigerian movies in the late 90s leading up to the early 2000s, you will find out that most of the movies released at that time, had a lot of witchcraft and voodoo. Those stories scared the crap out of me as a little child. I remember the series titled—Willy Willy, it was about a guy who was killed by his friend, and his spirit came back to hunt those in the community where he lived. The theme song went something like this—
“Willy Willy don die (clap clap)
na who kill am (clap clap) na Nchelem kill am (clap clap)
Now clap for Nchelem, give him a big clap!"
Then all the kids would start applauding, and while they were busy cheering, from a distance this being, dressed in an all-white robe, dreadlocks and powder white face, starts making his way towards them, with everyone suddenly thrown into a pandemonium, because they did not expect to see Willy Willy's ghost. So you can imagine watching shows like Willy Willy or movies like Witches, as a child, you are definitely going to be bound by fear. I guess my parents, especially my mom, didn’t see the adverse effects such movies and television shows had on me growing up.
After watching such, I couldn’t go to some certain parts of the house alone at night. I would always call for someone to accompany me. As time went on, we moved into our own home, which we built, and everyone now had separate rooms. I was excited as a 12 year-old girl, to have my own space for the first time. I would clean the room; make sure everything was in place, and not let anyone mess it up. But I still had this one issue—fear.
I could not sleep alone at night; once it got to about 3 p.m.; I started pleading with my brother. “Please sleep over in my room tonight Ufuoma.” No! I want to sleep in my bed, he would often respond. “Please Ufuoma; I would buy you whatever you want.” That was how I stayed bribing my younger brother to spend the night with me, on the nights when my father was around. But whenever he was off to work, I could care less about Ufuoma and his antics, because I got to sleep in my parent’s room. This behavior continued for years.
What even made it worse was that we experienced a lot of deaths in our family. In December of 2000, my mom’s younger sister who was suffering from the sickle cell disease, died in our house. I was 12, Ufuoma was only 10, and my parents were out of town for work. “Nkechi go and check to see if Aunty Mary is doing okay.” We repeatedly said to our maid, who was often carried away by the movie we were watching, which was about the End of age. I can only but wonder why we filled our hearts with such movies at that time.
The maid kept on going back and forth, and the last time she came in, she alerted us that our aunt, who was just 27-years old, was no longer breathing. We quickly rushed to the scene and saw her lifeless body lying on the floor. We broke down in tears, and my brother immediately took to prayer; but he was no Jesus, Lazarus was not going to walk out of the tomb now, or even four days later.
Related Story: LOSS
That experience traumatized me, and only made the fear I was already harboring a lot worse. I could not go to bed without Christian music playing in the background; those were not the times of cellphones; when everyone could easily play their favorite playlist before they doze off, we had only one radio in the entire house that was working. I used it on few occasions, but my mom took it away from me. Because she also wanted to listen to music at night.
I felt she was being selfish; but looking back now, she had just lost her baby sister, and needed all the comfort she could get. I remember the days following after the loss of my mother’s sister, being dark days. Maybe if we had constant electricity, and cable TV, that would have made things a whole lot better. But we didn’t. I could not wait for the school year to start again in January so I could be around friends, after my sad December holiday.
Second Time Around
Hey Evi! your mom has been calling she wants to speak to you—my school Matron said running to get my attention. “Hello mommy, how are you?” Uncle is dead! she said to me. “What? Which uncle?” I shouted back at the phone; Uncle David. “Oh no!” I exclaimed as I broke down crying. Evi what is it? What is it? The students around were curious to find out what the problem was, “my uncle, my mom’s older brother just died.” They all gathered around me to console me.
Death had come knocking once again. My uncle had survived a massive stroke, and was doing well. He now lived with us and his children, until he could get his feet back on the ground. One day his kids went to inform him that they were off to school but he did not wake up from his slumber. Oh death! Where is your sting? I went deeper with my relationship with fear. I feared death, and the devil. I felt he had a stronghold on not just me, but my family. We had lost an aunt four years prior and now our beloved uncle. My mother was devastated, but never failed to put up a brave face.
The Big Move
I grew up in Port-Harcourt city, and lived there for 17-years. During those years, my dad worked as a field engineer and was not home most of the times. This then gave me and my brother the opportunity to bond properly with our mother. She let us watch TV till late at night, she let us eat our meals in the living room, and also spend the weekends at our cousins houses; things that we could not really do when daddy was around. In the beginning of 2005, after we put our sorrows behind us, my dad came home one day with good news—“we are moving to America!” We were so elated; his job had approved for him to go work on a special project in Houston, Texas, and was sponsoring the entire family.
Before this announcement, I had never been abroad. My parents were not the type to spoil us with trips around the world every summer, so we spent our holidays at home, in Port-Harcourt. This was pleasant news; we began telling family and friends that we were going to the U.S. Fast forward a few months later, my dad came home again and said he had some news. “What could be better than moving to America?” I thought to myself, “I hope say them never cancel this trip oh!” Okay daddy what is it? I asked with curiosity—“we are no longer moving to Houston, we are now moving to Ulsan, South Korea.”
What? Where is Korea? What do they speak there? Abeg only daddy will go on this trip oh, he can come and visit us from time to time within the two years. I said back to my mom one day. I was so sad, I have been watching America on TV, all these years and the opportunity to travel there finally was taken away from me. What do the people in South Korea even look like? There was no choice in the matter, in June of 2005, I said good bye to life as I knew it, and was about to embark on a journey of a life-time.
My Journey to Korea
It felt nice to finally board an international flight, what was more enjoyable was that we were in business class. I struggled to bring out my tray, from the side of the seat when it was time for food (as a first time traveller) and the air hostess got frustrated with me, asking if it was my first time travelling! Germans! Yes our first port of entry was Frankfurt in Germany. We had a 12-hour layover in the beautiful European country.
After getting off the plane, we made our way to immigration, and were denied entry, because of the type of visa we had. It was a transit visa; the company had made a mistake while processing our documents, and applied for the wrong class of visa for us. We pleaded with them to let us in, so we could go rest at our hotel, but they refused, stating that if an immigration officer stops us at some other location outside the airport, they will get into trouble. So we had to remain at the Frankfurt airport. I have never slept and woken up so much in my life!
The flight to Frankfurt from the Omagwa airport was cool; it was full of people with different nationalities, skin tones and sizes. But from Frankfurt to Seoul, I got a rude awakening; everyone looked the same, except us! We were the only black people on the flight. That was when it dawned on me that we were really moving to Asia for two years.
Continue to Part 2 Here
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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.