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What Have I Done


By Akinwade Onadeko 

    Hello, Good morning. Can you pass across your passport along with any other necessary documents?

       The voice sounded so clear, so pristine. I stood awestruck as I handed her what she asked for. She took one look at the passport and deftly typed into the computer in front of her. I turned to look at the unsteady line which snaked haphazardly behind me at the American Embassy. 

     It was a long line filled with people displaying different emotions, some were nervous, apprehensive, and some were excited while some were just plain bored. They had been through this before. Been there, done that. 

      It baffled me the copious amount of people applying for visa to seek a better means of living elsewhere although  I was also included in that statistic. A couple at another interview window soon broke into a cry of happiness as they were granted their visa. The husband thanking the interviewer profusely, I am sure if it were possible for him to break through the window to give the man a hug, he would have done so. 

      A thought ran through my mind and I smiled. Soon, I would speak Oyinbo English and soon my skin will be as smooth as the lady interviewer in front of me. I would soon be… a jolt from behind me brought me back to reality. 

   I turned to look at the impatient man behind who glared at me with hateful eyes. “She bin dey ask you question.” he said hurriedly in a huff. Hmm, looks like someone is in a hurry to get a visa.

     “Where are you travelling to?”, the foreign lady asked me again. “Uhm, Chicago,” I answered. She typed something into that computer of hers. “Who are you going over to see and why?” She asked me sweetly. “My sister, I am going for a short visit just to see my nephew and niece.” I answered her. She stared at me, silently scrutinizing my face as I stared back at her all too smiley. 

     She swiftly tapped her keyboard and looked through my passport again as if checking for something she had missed before. She stared at me again and this time, a feeling of unease began to creep up from within me. What if I wasn’t given the visa? What if this smiling judge, jury and executioner dashes all my hopes and dreams with her soothing sweet voice? A lot of what ifs began to pop up in my mind. 

    A trickle of sweat began to break from my forehead despite the sub-zero temperature of the room. My heart began to beat faster than a professional drummer. This woman was staring at me for far too long and why was I smiling like a buffoon? The woman opened her mouth to speak and I thought to myself, this was it, the end. 

     This woman was going to cut off my head with her sword of visa justice and kick it to the curb and she was going to do it with a smile. I held my breath as she started to speak. “Okay, I’m going out here on a limb but I’m going to give you the visa, so congratulations.” The air came out of me in a rush. I could totally relate to how that couple felt at that time. I felt like hugging her.

       “Thank you, thank you so very much!” The words seem to come out in a tumble, each competing to show her appreciation. She beamed at me warmly, slowly nodding her head. I could hear the groans and soft whispers of impatience behind me but I didn’t care.“Thank you. For a moment there, I thought you weren’t going to give me the visa. That would have shattered my dreams of expanding my cocaine business outside the country.” 

     Uh-oh, I had said too much. The smile was erased off the woman’s face faster than the speed of light.

    “Excuse me but did I just hear you say cocaine?” She asked looking at me closely this time around.

    “No, no, it was a mistake. I meant to say that my cocaine business… there it was again, what was wrong with me?

    “You’ve repeated it again, you just said cocaine.” This was starting to draw the attention of people as they craned their necks to get a better view of the drama unfolding in front.

“No, no.”

“Security.”

Why did her voice still have to sound so sweet?

– Akin
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IG: @Akin_Onadeko

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