©️Opeyemi O.Akintunde

LIfe in Houston was great, the first month was welcoming. My sister and her husband who were living in a two bedroom apartment told their kids to vacate their room to accommodate my children and I Which was the usual anytime we went visiting for weeks.

I hid my relocation plans from them, even my daughters didn’t know we were relocating, all I told them was we were going To Houston for a short break.

I didn’t hint them on what was going on with their father. I just told them I needed a break and since that was not the first trip to Houston, they didn’t suspect any foul play.

However, when it was about the sixth week, I started hearing my brother in law and Sister arguing behind close doors. I didn’t know what it was about until when my brother in law confronted me about it around the 8th week.(2 months).

“ Aunt Betty, my wife and I are just managing and it’s unlike you to come to Houston and spend two months. We are running low on cash…What’s up Aunt, Are you planning to relocate?” You know how blunt Nigerians who live in America can be ….

“ Well…” I said while trying to find a convincing answer…

“ Aunt Betty, I just want the truth” Richie said

“ My husband and I are having it rough, so yes I am thinking of relocating”

“ I guessed as much, it’s unlike Uncle, He would have called to thank us for hosting his family” He said

“Hmm…Aunty…I think you should go back to Nigeria and sort things out, because living in America as a single black mother with two daughters is not easy!, For starters we won’t be able to accommodate you for long ,because even as we speak the bills are way too much”

“ I can always support in the bills,like I did when I first came in from Nigeria, at least I gave your wife 1000 dollars to support during my stay”

“ Aunty, we have exhausted it, you know how things are here….the morgage , the….” He said

“ Ok Richie…What do you want me to do?”

“ If you plan on staying in America, I am sorry Aunty, You might need to start looking for your apartment, possibly get a Job, but my best advice is for you to go back to Africa, because even we that are established here, we wish we could return home, but the shame of going back to Africa with virtually nothing is what is keeping most of us here, imagine me Richard, a First class Graduate of Micro Biology working in a Hand car wash , washing cars in Houston…., Aunty, think very well about what you are about to do” He said

I followed the most convenient Option and Used my hard earned money, my savings to be precise to buy a house in Houston. I am sure you know what it cost to buy a house in America, it was my life savings but my thought was, If accommodation was settled, every other thing was secondary.

I had little or close to nothing left.

My daughters began questioning why we were not returning to Nigeria and why dad had not joined them for the holiday as I initially said. I told them Dad was executing a project in an area were there was no network coverage. They believed that because it was not out of the norm.

As regards staying in America, they were excited as their fantasy of attending college in America was going to come to pass. All thanks to all the Hollywood college movies and series they had watched on T.V, so this was going to be living their “ AMERICAN DREAM”

Isokene kept calling me to return back to Nigeria, but I kept telling her I was thinking about it. The day I bought my house in Houston, I called her very excited to share my good news with her, but she said…

“ Why waste all that money in buying a house for yourself, when you have a home you need to save in Nigeria… A house in America can never be a home, if the major ingredient is absent, Your husband is not in that house….If your husband was dead, it would have been understandable…

Aunty Betty, What is happening to you? my heart breaks everyday knowing you are going far away from God’s ordained plan for your life, It’s all over the news, people are asking about you as you have been missing all the programs you were invited to….Also, your disappearance from the scene has given the mistress the boldness to come out , She and your husband now walk hand in hand in public….and people are asking questions as to who she is?”

I hung up on Isokene….I didn’t want her to dampen my spirit anymore than it was….My mind was made up. I was going to make America my new home, even if I didn’t have a husband. I intentionally changed my number so none of my pastor friends could reach me, the only friend I kept in contact with was a Female minister like me who had divorced her husband.

“ My sister, marriage is not by force ooo, avoid the calls of hypocritical people, I mean some of our fathers and mothers in the Lord who are not also enjoying their marriage, they will tell you “for the gospel sake, pretend everything is fine”…..Abeg, won’t I live my own life?…My sister, you have made the right choice…Settle in America and if God is merciful, you marry someone else!”

This led me into looking for a job as a School counselor, as that was my area of specialization but I looked tirelessly as I never got one….

I decided to call my sister for help as I was seriously running low on cash…

“ Aunty, you can’t find such jobs here, when the real Americans are yet to get Jobs, then you a Nigerian will now get one….Aunty before I went to Nursing School to become a nurse, I did all sorts including washing plates…. I suggest you start looking towards that area”

“What?Me? Wash plates in America?” ….I said in disbelief

©️Opeyemi O.Akintunde

Henry and I stopped by a canteen to eat, I refused eating. He ate a whole lot.

When It was time to leave, Henry was being sluggish , I stood up and left him, telling him he should catch up with me. After I left him behind and was already close to the main road, I decided to look back but he was nowhere in sight. I didn’t see him anymore, I tried going back to look for him but I couldn’t find my way back.

The routes I saw didn’t match where I had just passed, it all looked confusing….

I woke up from that dream and I was sure I heard God when He said….

“ You left him behind a long time ago, Daughter, You are far ahead of him Spiritually. Are you going to leave him lost in the world? Or will you go back and find him?”

I broke down in tears, I knew what this meant, God wanted me to go back to Nigeria to get back my husband, but God! This was not going to be easy! Just like in the dream, I didn’t know the route back to my husband’s heart… He was like a stranger. We had not spoken in months. His mistress was pregnant. He was in love with her… I had used the route I knew best…PRAYER… But it didn’t work out!

I asked God again screaming in the empty room of my new house…

“God do you want me to go back to Nigeria?”

God didn’t say Yes or No, I felt God was saying…” I am not a talkative “ rather I heard my first daughter’s voice as she stood by the entrance of my room…

“ Yes mummy, If You can’t hear God, You sure can hear me….I don’t like it here… I want us to go back to Nigeria, the movies painted America to be some kind of paradise, but now that I am here I am not feeling this place… I want to go back home and besides I had a dream just now….”

“A dream?” I asked

“ Yes I saw we all running a race but Dad started slowing down till we couldn’t see him anymore. At some point, I told you Dad was no longer with us. You stopped and we all went back to get Daddy… Then I woke up… Mum, I think Daddy may be in some form of trouble in that village where there is no network for him, Let’s go back home and find him”

My daughter didn’t know she just preached to me, as I broke down in tears. She sat down beside me crying.. and she said almost the same words Isokene had said to me

“ Mum, although we have a beautiful house here in America, but it doesn’t make it our home.. Home is where you, Dad and us are….Mum, Let’s go back home.”

Home! Where was home and did we still have a home?….

I called my brother in law and I told him I was returning home. He was excited and he said

“ Aunty, making mistakes are bad, but what is worse is when we don’t try to correct them”

Before the dream , I had started working as a Dishwasher in a big restaurant, I had given myself a new look, I went on low cut to avoid spending money on braids and all that. I was ready to start a new life in America but here was God sending me back to Nigeria.

I stayed back for another two weeks to have the house sold so I could have my money back though it was at a lesser price. I lost some money.

My children and I returned back home and as we got to the security post, We were met with the shock of our lives…

The mistress had made my house her HOME…. She was now in charge, There was a new Security man who didn’t know who we were, the color of our house had changed, There was a new maid, new furnitures…My home had become her HOME….

I stood in total shock at how beautifully she had transformed everything and everywhere in my home and had made it hers….

Just like the dream I had , I couldn’t find the way to my home again, this was Margaret’s Home, Was there any hope of making it mine again? Why did God bring me home? She had moved into my home and had become the boss.

As I stood transfixed, I told myself that she had every right to throw my children and I out…We were the ones who left our place in the first place before she took over….

Was there hope for my marriage?

My children stood in shock not understanding a bit of what was happening….