Thursday, January 12, 2012

Scared.



It has been so long since I’ve been back home. And now it’s actually going to happen. And now I’m scared. I can’t really explain it. All these years of pining and crying for home and now I am meeting it with some sort of hesitancy. It’s not that I don’t want to go home; I do with all my heart. But I’m scared that somehow, it won’t happen. As if it’s too good to be true and that something bad is lurking around the corner. I feel a little bit panicky and I hope that doesn’t grow the closer the time draws to go home.

I don’t know if anyone can understand. The first two years or so in the States, I didn’t miss home that much. I was distracted by being in a whole new country, trying not to feel like an outcast, I loved the comforts of constant electricity, running water, and how everything appeared to be so clean. I was trying to blend in. But I was 16. When I found myself as the adult I now am, I found home again, as corny as that sounds. Homesickness would wash over me in waves and thoughts of being back in Aba became more constant. Before I could go weeks without thinking of home, but those weeks became days.

Some people exaggerate about such things, but for me within at least the last two years, I have thought of Nigeria every single day. And I don’t mean I think of the country, politics, people and whatnot lol. I mean I think of MY Nigeria. The way I saw it growing up. I suppose my current fear stems from the fact of how physically disconnected I am from home. I suppose I’m scared to witness the change in person. I’m scared to see the house I grew up in. The house that when the electricity went out, I could walk around in the darkness to find a candle without bumping into anything.  The house I know will appear smaller once I step foot in it. I’m scared to see my father and realize that I grew taller.  My father who is closer to 70, but I spent a majority of my life picturing him as a man in his 50’s in that innocent manner children use when assuming their parents’ ages.

I just can’t believe it’s finally going to happen. I don’t know how many people out there have waited and waited and waited for something to happen, only it never did. I got so many hopes and false promises in the past. And those useless dreams of being home, but never being able to reach my house didn’t help either.

I’ve got it. You know what it feels like? This shit feels like my damn dreams all over again and all in one. THAT’S the feeling I’ve been trying to understand. Just like in my dreams, it is the feeling of excitement, panic, frustration and hopelessness but at the same time hope. It is the feeling of, “Oh, I’ve been here before and I know how it ends. It ends like all the other dreams before. I never get home.”

Maybe in real life, when I get home . . . maybe I will ask my father to drive me down the street leading to my home. Down that damn street that I spent countless dreams running on with a heart that was beating fast with two tunes of exhaustion and anticipation. Perhaps I will even get to walk down the last part of the street . . . I probably won’t knowing myself lol. I would be too scared that something could happen just like in my dreams. I know that fear will go away once I’m in my house and then I can take that walk.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dreams of Home


Come February, I will have been away from home for 7 years. I remember telling my friends before I left, “I will get a job, I will save up and I’ll be back in two years.”

A month and half of living in the States, I got a job and I’ve had a job ever since. Two years passed. No Nigeria. My mother held charge of my bank account at that time and money went out to help my brother and sister to help pay for a car, to help pay for a laptop and other finances. I finally got hold of my bank account as a first year student in college. I had no idea of how much money I had earned in the last two years. It didn’t matter. I had to start from scratch again, but fees came up for school and books. There was always something coming up and money was always going. My young and beautiful cousin passed away, the cats died or ran away, my dog got killed. To me, it seemed as if people I once had a connection to were disappearing along with the pets that had stayed with us for years.

The dreams started about 4 years ago. I would be back in my hometown of Aba, but somewhere far away from my house. Usually, I was on my way back from school. In my dream, my goal was simply to get home. I knew the way, but there was always an obstacle that I couldn’t overcome. There would be a heavy traffic jam, no cars would be moving. So I would decide to walk. I knew the short cuts to take, but somehow the roads would twist and I would end up lost. Or it would get dark and the handcrafted kerosene lamps from people’s market stalls would burn unusually bright and I would be blinded. I would have repetitive dreams like this for months.
Time would pass a year or so. My dream would change slightly.  I would be at the far end of
the street leading to my home. I KNOW THE WAY HOME! It’s easy. Just walk straight. Pass those familiar houses. I had done it countless times as a child in both the daytime and at night. In my dream, I would get so excited, I was almost there! I would begin to run and I wouldn’t get tired. Far, far away, I could see the wall that ended the street and behind that wall would be a school. My excitement would rise. But then . . . always, something would be there to stop me. Once it was a giant canyon, another time it was a few thugs. I would try to take one of my shortcuts, but I would always end up lost. I would wake up every night after such dreams extremely frustrated. I haven’t seen my home for years. It’s not fair that I can’t even see it in my dreams. I remember crying several times in those dreams.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have had these dreams. It would be impossible to count them.

About a year ago, I made up my mind to find a way home. Then my dreams changed again. I would still be on that street leading to my home, but this time I would be a lot closer. Some nights, I would be able to reach my house, but the gate would be closed. Other nights, I could enter the compound, but never be able to make it into the backyard. When I was little, I could always tell whether my father was home or not. I could hear the whir of the standing fan in his bedroom, or the hum of the television in the parlour. Sometimes, I wouldn’t have to hear anything. I would just know. In these dreams, he was never at home. I hated that feeling of my excitement building and building, only to have my hopes obscenely popped in my face.

Then I bought my ticket home. And after so long, the dreams have finally stopped. Not completely, but when I do dream of home, I am with my father, in my house.