Going Back Home

by Tonye Willie-Pepple

It amused me greatly, I got other letters from relatives and friends who asked me to send them prospectus for universities and help them submit Visa lottery applications, because they believed that since I made it through the lottery, they could also do same.

I wished they could understand that life in Nigeria was even more interesting and rewarding, I wrote to my younger brother, Tariah once, telling him that I regretted coming to live in the US, he replied, sounding very disappointed in me, that I wondered what I had said wrong.

He said I was only looking for a way to discourage others from coming so I would be the only one living in the land of opportunities and the only person sending gifts from oversees, According to him that was the problem with our tribesmen we never wanted to help our siblings when we were in the position.

This was the same person I sent school fees for, of course he couldn’t have understand what it meant, because the money was received by mama who paid for everything, rent, fees hospital bills and other things.

If he had known how much I sat up at night and walked about during the day only to take care of these old people he would never have written me such letters.

It wasn’t their fault anyway, after all I had the same feelings before I came over to the US, I remember how I struggled to save five thousand Naira each year just to give Oga Pitan, who worked in the Immigration office at Lagos.

“No worry e go come out this year” he said each year after I submitted the forms to him, I did that for six years before I was successful, parties were arranged on my behalf by friends, family friends extended families and all those who wished me well.

Some embraced my mother and others gave Oga Pitan a manly handshake, promising to start paying their five thousands early enough so as to get the lottery.

I left and Seven years later, yet I was not happy, never been happy because it had been from one old peoples home to the other, they refused to let me practice as a registered nurse because they said Nigerian certificate was not valid.

I had been planning to go for another nursing training but I kept procrastinating. It was not so much of my fault anyway; there were pressures on me from home that made me keep working. “Send money for Dede’s burial”, “Send money for Aunty Megs treatment, Dada has not been feeling fine she needs help and helps in Nigeria need money, send money, send money send money.” Was all that I worked for.

I really wanted to go back home because truly I was fed up.

“Hey Miss. Why are you sleeping on duty” The senior nurse said angrily tapping my shoulders. He didn’t say any other thing to me, only looked at Bruce and looked back sternly into my face.

I jumped up only to see Bruce coughing badly.

“Oh my God I hope he hasn’t had an attack” I said rushing him into the wheel chair and off to the clinic.

I went home from there so I could pick up some things, refresh and go back to see to him, since I was the only person that would have to take care of him,

Getting home I saw a mail, and opened it as I walked in.

“God it’s so cold” I said as I removed my winter coat.

Surprisingly the letter was from Dele, a friend in Nigeria.

I had written him six months ago after I heard over the new Nigerian television International station that he had been appointed commissioner for health in Delta state. He was a medical Doctor and used to be in little politics, I never knew it would pay him until I heard the news.

After putting my food in the microwave I sat down to a glass of milk while I read his letter.

12th November, 2006.

Dear Onis,

How are you? And hope your Job is going pretty fine? I was supposed to come over to the US for a brief holiday but I can’t because the work load here is serious I think it will save me the winter cold anyway.

I’ll probably come by April next year.

I got your letter and was not able to reply because I wanted to make the reply come with good news. You talked about your job and how you hate it. It’s quite a pity that even in the US where every Nigerian is longing to live, life is not as better as we expect it should in our ignorance.

I spoke with the medical director of the hospital in the presidency Abuja about you because there was an advertisement for the post of chief nursing officer for the Presidential clinic.

Without much ado, he asked me to send for you. Enclosed in this letter is a letter of appointment from the presidential clinic. You are to resume in two weeks.

I hope you will make arrangements as fast as possible to come back home.

Call me on the following numbers 234-0803 3312457 so I can give you details about the flight that will pick you from Lagos.

Will see you when you arrive.

Your Friend,


I was almost crying. That was the best day of my life. I had to start the arrangements as soon as possible, firstly I had to write a letter of resignation, but before then I would check on Bruce to make sure he was well.

I hurriedly had a hot bath, rushed my meal and took off to the hospital.

Walking into the ward where he had been admitted I couldn’t find him

I was almost hit down by the doctor as we meet face to face at the entrance.

“Where is Bruce?” I asked wondering if he had been changed to another room.

“Are you from St Joseph’s?” He replied.

“Yes of course” I responded wondering if he hadn’t noticed me when I came in with Bruce, or was I so black I could have been dismissed as a shadow?

“You should know then” he said to me.

“Know what? I only went home to freshen up”

“I’m afraid we’ve lost him, His attack was severe and efforts to resuscitate him failed.

I was speechless, how could he have died so soon, he could have waited for me to give him my good news and perhaps invite him to Nigeria after I would have settled,

I ran off to somewhere, anywhere, to mourn him.

Later that day the Director of St Joseph’s issued a statement saying He would be buried in two days, cremated rather in line with his will.

If nothing else e was glad I would make it to his funeral before leaving for Nigeria.

“Poor Bruce, May his soul Rest in Peace”

I left St Josephs to my home so I could start reconciling some documents for my journey home.

As I passed by Mrs. Du Bois room, I noticed she was crying.

“So she had some feelings after all?” I said to myself.

I was glad that I would be going back home.

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Patricia August 20, 2007 - 5:32 am

I loved reading your real-life story, and I hope and pray you are happier now that you have returned to Nigeria.

I feel as though I know you to some degree from your writings, and to me, that is the "power of the pen" to evoke emotions, thoughts, and feelings similiar in the reader as you felt them while writing them.

Best wishes. My husband lives in Lagos, Nigeria, and prayerfully, he will be joining me soon in the United States. I hope his hopes and dreams are not disillusioned as he strives to find a new life in America. I am African American, the politically correct term to use when referring to us Blacks for some reason, and I will do everything through my love and within my power to make him feel comfortable in his new surroundings.

Again, I loved your article and hope to hear more from you in the future! God bless you.

K Oko August 19, 2007 - 8:22 pm

Great Story. Please keep us posted regarding how your return to Nigeria works out. Many of us yearn to return home. Take care.

Jela August 16, 2007 - 5:20 pm

this was a very nice article…bless you

beebeelee August 16, 2007 - 1:59 pm

That was a misture of sadness,goodnews and also telling us that these life is vanity.

Daniel August 16, 2007 - 12:23 pm

Cool Story, exactly how it should be, Home is sweet indeed


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