In order to fully understand this write-up, first time readers should read Part I @ http://www.jaguda.com/2009/06/22/memoirs-of-an-immigrant-lagos-the-city-of-hustlers/
“Thank You Jesus”, “Yes, Yes, Yes” and some times silent smiles were some of the expressions people made as they exited the interview area, but it wasn’t so much joy for others….I remember seeing tears flowing down the eyes of hopeful immigrants as they walked out of the embassy with broken dreams. Some were escorted out by security if they refused to leave the premises and it was at such instances my fear of not being granted a visa would pinch me.
You see, as far as I was concerned I was already in the U.S.: mentally, emotionally, except physically. I was done with Nigeria, really I was. At 17, I had started my undergraduate studies at the University of Calabar and after standing on table after table just to catch a glimpse of the professor, being bothered by a male professor and numerous toasting from cult boys, I lost all interest in schooling in Naija. So that day as I walked to the cashier to pay my Visa fee, I drew signs of the cross on the dollars and literally crossed my fingers the whole time I waited……I wasn’t going to leave that place without a visa.
Finally, I and my sister were called into the interviewing unit. I had ALL my answers ready, I mean all of them. My parents’ address in the U.S., their job information, my siblings’ data, name it; I had it. We even came with a family album as advised. As soon as we got into the interview area, my heart started to pound like crazy. I started feeling defeated, why was there a window-styled interview? I was hoping to have a face to face interview on a table where I could express my deep desire to cross the Atlantic Ocean. I was weak mehn……I saw how people were rushed at the window, how rude the interviewers were and I was just weak.
You know when you spot the evil interviewer and start praying to God that he/she wouldn’t be the one to interview you. On this very day, the evil interviewer was a white lady, she was so rude to people that I refused to even make eye contact with her. My thoughts were interrupted when my sister told me she had to use the restroom……”WHAT! please hold it” I told her but she replied….”it’s number 2, I really have to go”……chei, this girl was really trying to jeopardize me getting my visa. My fear was that if they called our names while she was doing her business and we didn’t get to the window on time, they may cancel our interview. You see, the night before, we went out to chill in one of the top hotels in Lagos and my sister had some pepper soup…..let’s just say that she didn’t sleep much that night and this was that pepper soup reporting to duty.
While I waited, a couple who had won the visa lottery was denied a Greencard because of inability to show sufficient funds. The husband and wife pair cried and cried like their lives were over, they started lamenting that they sold most of their belongings to raise money and that they had nothing to return to, I was moved to tears which I quickly held back. The lady untied her wrapper and threw it on the ground and was about to take off another item of clothing when a security officer helped her out. Sitting next to me was this guy who had written out like 20 possible questions and was reciting the ans the whole time. I couldn’t shout, as in…..”was it that serious?”
Moments later, I heard my last name being called, my sis still hadn’t returned, I was about to dash to the restroom when I saw her walking out….We walked up to the window and as God would have it, it wasn’t the Evil lady, I answered every question with precision, submitted every evidence requested and was smiling and thanking the interviewer unncessarily(Basically kissing her a**). Our passports were collected and all I was waiting for was for it to be returned with my visa stamped on it! (I could already see myself shopping, walking on roads with no litter, waving at some cute boys across the street like they do in the movies)……..well, I was moving faster than protocol. The interviewer came back and told us they needed more proof that our mother is our biological mother. WHAT! what nonsense extra proof?
We were asked to go to “that” embassy clinic, (I forgot the name) for DNA testing and other tests like HIV, typhoid and immunizations. I knew I wasn’t HIV positive so I wasn’t scared at all, (I had no contact with any man (virgin Mary Indeed)(not to say that it’s the only form of transmission) but for a second I began to wonder if my mum was my biological mother…….that was now the only obstacle between me and the American dream. (To be continued)