Going Back Home

“I can’t find my inhaler, where is my inhaler”

Mrs. Du Bois complained loudly, looking very uncomfortable. she expected me to start searching everywhere for it, she was fond of this attitude, and though I had been tolerating it for long, it really began to upset me, especially at the time that I was trying to make up my mind about….

(“Crashhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”) Something fell to the ground with much noise accompanying.

“What could that be at this time” I said angrily because I was getting confused,

“Just a minute Mrs. Du Bois” I said to her as I ran off to see to what had fallen.

“I know you’re never gonna come back, you’re just like your fellow stupid blacks” she murmured to my irritation.

I wondered why she was so difficult to please; maybe she had never had any good time in life. “Sadist, and there she was always hating the same blacks who are ever present to assist her, If she was so white, she didn’t want to be stained, she should have got herself a white nurse.” I mumbled

I got to the corridor and saw Bruce on the floor, his wheel chair tumbled against him, if I hadn’t come then, who knows what would have happened next.

I assisted him back into the wheel chair, and as I was doing that, the senior nurse walked past us without a greeting, he didn’t even respond to mine, I felt like asking him to help me see to Mrs. Du Bois, but it was no use, he would not.

“These people are so prejudiced and selfish, I suppose he just passed by without a word because Bruce is a black inmate” I thought.

I wheeled Bruce back to his room. We were both silent as we move down the corridor. I didn’t ask him how he fell and he didn’t say anything either., I was not surprised anyway, because he hadn’t been talking coherently like he used to before he had a partial stroke two months ago.

The corridor was long, dark and quiet with lamps. Each room was occupied by an old person who probably did not have any children, or had brats that were self absorbed to be of any help.

In my seven years of working in Old People’s Home in Jersey City, I had seen all sorts of old people, those who came with expectancy of meeting others such as themselves in the same age bracket and had failed, instead finding boredom and monotony.

And there were others, who had been dragged in kicking and screaming and had, in an unexpected twist of faith found happiness.

Having arrived Bruce’s room, I helped him to bed and brought out pain killers, I knew he must have been aching all over.

“Poor Bruce” I said to myself sitting beside him and watching as he slowly fell asleep.

Just then I felt the cold palms of winter take me in its grip. I turned on the fire place so Bruce wouldn’t have an asthmatic attack.

I prayed he would recuperate and get back to the lively Bruce I used to know. Months ago before he had a stroke, we used to sit and talk of many things. He told me about Tanzania were he came from and I told him of Nigeria.

“Were you born Bruce Warris” I had asked him because I knew core Africans always had their native names intact, except in the Niger Delta part of Nigeria were they mixed their names with funny English corruptions, like Abie Fyne-White,

“Bruce Warioba is my actual name. I had to change it to Warris when I arrived England in the sixties. I was black and that was enough cause to be used against me. I didn’t want to add to the trouble by telling them a name they would not understand thereby relegating me totally.” He had replied.

“I used to think racism was just an excuse the blacks used against their white counterparts, until I came over” I said to him that day.

“There ain’t no racist action against blacks these day. What you refer to as racism is just a trifle of what we experienced in England in the sixties.” He had replied. He said it was reason why he arranged to come over to the U.S, perhaps life would be better.

I asked him about families and he told me he would leave that for another day. I knew then that he must have had some terrible experiences and didn’t want to talk about it. He, however, told me about it much later.

“Onis” he called out to me one day after I had attended to him

“Are you married?” he asked me

“No” I replied.

“Why” He asked further observing me.

“Well I uhm, I actually uhm,” I stuttered with the words; even though we had become good friends I still felt I should reserve my some things from his knowledge.

“You’ve had heartbreak haven’t you? He asked

I didn’t answer that question; I waited for him to go on talking.

He advised me never to refuse getting married just because of some heartbreak else I would be the one to suffer it later.

He also explained to me how he fell in love with a white lady Eileen from Ireland, when he was still a fresh graduate in Tanzania.

Eileen was five years older than he was, and tutored in a department at the University where he studied. They were so much in love that immediately he finished schooling she lured him into running off with her to Britain because she knew his family disliked her, he followed and that became a stepping stone to his doom in life.

In England they lived in romantic fantasy, like they were born just for the purpose of falling in love, after they got married she refused to have children saying she was scared to go to the labor room.

He suggested adopting and she also refused saying she was content having him all to herself, it became scary at a point, because as an African man he knew the importance of children, he clung to her however, still infatuated with her until a day when she arrived with the police and accused him of threatening to kill her if she didn’t bare him children.

“I was surprised, because I only explained the importance of reproduction in Africa to her.” He said.

He was whisked away by the police who were core racist themselves and charged to court, after some years in custody he came out and arranged to leave for the United States on learning that she had gotten married to another Black man from South Africa.

While in America Bruce got engaged to a young lady, Shirley. They got married but it didn’t last because sooner Bruce discovered he had erectile dysfunction, a visit to the Doctor revealed that his reproductive organs had been found poisoned probably through food. As a result he could not have kids and because the poison had been present all these years it slowly affected the entire system making it impossible to sleep with a woman.

Shirley, still young and wanting to explore life left him of course and he was doomed to a life without family.

I had felt very pathetic about his story, No wonder he could tell from my countenance that I had encountered a heart break. Though mine was just a trifle of what he had seen.

It was before I left Nigeria that Steve broke my heart, it wasn’t much of a case anyway, I only caught him with my friend and he wasn’t remorseful so I decided never to have a dealing with guys, though I hadn’t fully resigned to the decision of not getting married. However with the way things went here in America and to say that for seven years I hadn’t been in a relationship, then I was well on my way to being a feminine Bruce.

When I left Nigeria for the US I had in mind that I would make Steve envious and want to come back, true to my desire he had been writing to say he wanted us back for old time’s sake, so he can stay with me in the US and become a citizen.

Written by
Tonye Willie-Pepple
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5 comments
  • 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.

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