The electricity was due to run out in a few days. Oche had no money and Brume didn’t come home for two days. The baby missed her mom and cried more than usual. In the morning of the 3rd day, two strange vehicles pulled up on the driveway. Brume came in and walked past Oche in the kitchen. She had a cast on her arm and a bandage on her head. He didn’t hit her on the head or arm, he was worried. She didn’t respond to any of Oche’s questions or pleas. He wanted to know what happened to her. Apparently, she didn’t come alone. A man dressed in uniform came in with her and moved towards Oche in a menacing way, when he attempted to touch Brume. Brume went to their bedroom to take some of her clothes. Oche followed her but gave some distance seeing that the man had come to protect her. She went to the baby’s room and took a lot of the baby’s things. She loaded up suitcases, while the man dressed in uniform took the things to the car.
Oche was powerless to stop her. All he did was watch as Brume left with the baby in the strange cars. Luckily there was still data left on the Wi-Fi. He went on a mad frenzy trying to reach out to anyone he knew in America to help him out. After opening up and telling a lawyer friend what had happened, his lawyer friend explained all the possibilities. He said it was a normal thing for Nigerian women to go crazy in the U.S. He had heard cases of husbands that had sponsored wives to read nursing or medicine in the states and that after qualifying and getting a good job, they’d turn on their husband and scream “Abuse”. Oche’s lawyer friend was even more worried because he was an illegal immigrant. His lawyer friend helped him out with a little money.
Soon later, he received several processes from the court and eventually the police came to pick him up for questioning. Apparently, Brume had filed a complaint against him. Worse still she had also reported to border control.
It was a gruesome experience! as Oche was banned from entering the United States for 12 years on account of his brutality and consistent abuse! He was taken to a holding area awaiting deportation. He cried a lot and couldn’t eat for days. Brume had told authorities that he had hit her head often and broke her arm and had been doing so since they were in Nigeria. He cried most of the trip back to Nigeria.
From the airport, he went straight to his cousin’s house in Iyana Iba. He couldn’t face his old friends, it was embarrassing. His cousin Ode, was not too happy to see him. He complained that Oche never returned any of his calls when he was in America. “Anyway the only tin wey no make me troway your load for outside na say, na your Papa train me for school”.
Things were tough for Oche. His cousin didn’t spare him. He was dead broke and though he tried to get a job, he was turned down at every interview. He was often told that because he had no certification or Masters, they couldn’t employ. As months went by, it was clear that Oche would have to take whatsoever job came his way. Ode, was threatening to kick him out because he wasn’t able to contribute financially.
One morning, a neighbour informed Oche that a security company was recruiting. It was a hard decision but eventually Oche had to apply. It was amazing just how many educated people came to attend the interview. Some of them even had Masters, but had been looking for jobs for years. They didn’t care about the pay. They just needed sustenance, to eat and they hoped to meet someone who could help them out of poverty.
Out of what seemed like a village full of candidates, Oche was one of the chosen few to be accepted. He had been advised not to speak his oyinbo English.
He was posted a pharmaceutical company somewhere in Ikeja. He had gotten himself a pair of thick glasses and pulled his cap well over his forehead to avoid being recognized by anyone he knew from his banking days. After about 2 months of work, he was summoned to the HR office. When he got there he was taken to the HR heads office. He had made it a point of duty not to look at people in the face when he was spoken to. The HR Head was a lady. She spoke slowly and calmly and tried to make him comfortable. She had been on a study leave and just resumed. She wanted to meet all the new staff & security guards. She asked whether he was paid when he did overtime. He lied and said yes. He had heard that the CSO was in the habit of kolobying junior staff overtime. He didn’t want any trouble. She pressed him more for the truth. He didn’t budge.
Back at the gate the CSO wanted to know what had transpired. Oche told him everything. The CSO patted him on the back and called him a “beta pesin”.
Days after, the HR head asked to see him again. He was shaking by the time he got to her office. He didn’t want wahala. The HR head was typing away on her laptop, when he got to the door. She asked him to sit without looking up. She asked him what his name was.” What’s your surname?” She asked. She then asked him to take off his cap and glasses. He did. “Did you go to Unijos? “Please Ma I don’t want trouble they said I should not …she shut him up. “Did you go to Unijos or not? I did Ma. You read “Economics right? ”Yes Ma. They used to call you Che-momen….At this point Oche burst into tears. She really knew him. She got up and shut the door. “Oche, it’s me Gloria. Gloria that was in Biz Admin, Mercy’s friend. For the first time, he really looked at her. She was lighter and had put on some weight, but there she was. This was the Gloria he had often laughed at with his friends. She had a bad crush on him and then she looked nerdy. Amidst tears he told her his story. Gloria sighed and asked him to return to his post.
Oche didn’t get to see Gloria much except when her driver brought her in the mornings. He was told that madam had asked that he be put permanently on morning shift. He tried to see her to say thank you, but she wouldn’t see him. He didn’t get to see her again for months.
One Afternoon, after about a year of being a security guard, he received a DHL package. He has suspicious of it and had to go to the toilet to open its contents. Inside were two letters. One was handwritten, the other typed. He opened the handwritten one first. He didn’t recognize the handwriting.
I can remember our days at Unijos I really liked you and I know you knew. It’s funny how life is full of tosses and turns. Fancy meeting you in my workplace. You may not know it, but I have resigned and working in another company. I never stopped liking you, I still do. It took me some time but I was able to convince a former colleague who now has a company of his own to accept you as an assistant procurement officer. The pay is not bad and he agreed based on my recommendation. I have followed your progress keenly and I have seen how diligently you worked as a security guard. You have changed for the better……..”
The other letter was an employment letter. Oche wept. He read the offer letter for the 6th time and said a quiet prayer.