Yes! You Actually Feel Home; I’m Home!

Culture, Stories 29/12/2018 by Nessa Ichull

I’m home

Confession of a true ‘ajebota.’  When the plane landed in Abuja I cried. Yes, real tears the person sitting next to me started laughing. The whole flight I was talking to him about how excited I am to be back home after 11 years!! And seeing Nigeria again was really emotional for me.

I wanted to see River Benue so my Dad took me and I was amazed at how truly beautiful it is! I kept asking why don’t people come here all the time for fun?

No one has really given me an answer that satisfies me!

I go for a run every morning and I think Gboko has a unique kind of beauty.

In America

Christmas is one of those holidays that never felt completely right in America.  Don’t get me wrong. I love the Christmas tree and putting up Christmas lights but I miss children saying happy Christmas and understanding that you give them money in return. I miss the random people that walk into your compound on Christmas Day and you give them food and money, I miss cooking on an open fire on Christmas Eve till 1 am, I miss stealing the fried goat meat as they were frying it! I miss my grandpa feeding us white rice and banana (not plantains) and telling us ‘kwaghir’, I miss yam! And most importantly I missed getting excited about my Christmas dress!!!

My family isn’t perfect but it’s family! We disagree and makeup and still remain family and that too is beautiful.

The very first thing I wanted to eat was freshly pounded yam and I ate lots of it! I can’t believe I’m home again,  I actually get to smell Christmas again.  I go for a run every morning and I think Gboko has a unique kind of beauty.  At 6 am when the sun is just about to rise the birds are chirping and the perfect breeze is blowing there is a special light cast on all the trees and it is truly beautiful.

Venessa Ichull © I am Benue 2018

When I saw my maternal grandma I sat next to her and held her and didn’t want to let go,  like I was a kid again. My grandma is the embodiment of love itself. Before I left Nigeria, family always meant uncles and cousins and grandparents so, celebrating Christmas in America with just my parents and siblings always felt like something was missing. Where are all the 100 cousins and all their kids where is the drunk uncle!!! Where are the overwhelmingly loud laugher and interfamily drama gossip? My heart hasn’t been this full in a long time!! My family isn’t perfect but it’s family! We disagree and makeup and still remain family and that too is beautiful.

I find it interesting that I didn’t know I missed home this much till I actually came back. The very first day I landed I ate meat pie and suya and ‘moi-moi’ within the first hour! I bought ‘kuli-kuli’, groundnut and banana even though I didn’t eat all of it, I missed the experience. I made it a point to eat street food because I believe that the dust adds a special taste that makes street food delicious!

I took a knee and directed her hand to my head (she is blind) and got my blessings.

My maternal grandma makes pounded yam and ‘genger’ almost every day and makes sure I finish it! (I’m not complaining).  Some days I wake up and I just eat meat all day, pork, ‘suya’, fish, bush meat, beef because I am Tiv and I like meat. And the meat here tastes better!

Christmas Day

Finally, Christmas Day came. Rice, fried beef and ‘kunu’ for breakfast.  the fried turkey leg my maternal grandma made was my snack for the road to church.  After church, all the kids gathered and said Happy Christmas. I did the needful and gave them 100 Naira each  I’m sure they were expecting more.

Finally, we went to my paternal grandmother’s house and there they were!!! My family!!! Most of the uncles and aunts and cousins and their kids. It was loud! There was overwhelming laughter! It was Christmas!!! I ate to my heart’s content. Then my grandma decided to bless each and every person present. I took a knee and directed her hand to my head (she is blind) and got my blessings.

This was a perfect way to wrap up my trip. I have had some of my most memorable experiences in these few weeks I have been in Nigeria.

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