At last! After all these years, I was finally able to have my very own family reunion. To see my relatives in our natural elements and to be reunited was truly remarkable because I was living in a country distant from relatives. Coming back to Nigeria, in a sense, was like watching a film. Everyone was in the movie and I was the one person in the audience.
Out of excitement, I observed everyone’s interactions and I saw the different relationships my cousins had with my grandma. At those very moments, seeing how everyone intermingled, naturally, made me realize that I was of robbed of my family, of my language, of my culture.
My grandmother is the epitome of a strong African Queen, her story alone can be a best seller. Topics would range from her being a widow, to her experiences with polygamy, to having an unfathomable amount of twin sets, to leading a family in the midst of a civil war that targeted her and her people. A true Christian warrior, both her prayer life and her titles in the church are endless. I was robbed of her and her experiences. Furthermore, being my only surviving grandparent, a critical relationship was hindered. What we had, however, was unique because I did remember her as a child, she was my own mother. To grow and to realize that the natural communication that we once shared was now gone. My language was now gone. That natural relationship that I once had with her was now replaced with pigeon and gestures, but the love was still there.
Living in a country distant from relatives felt like three-fourths of me was missing. As a young, African girl, who had reintegrated back into the US, I knew that I was different from others. I lacked a proper support system. I remember, as a child, how my friends and classmates would have such easy access to their relatives. A simple weekend trip with a couple of close aunts and uncles was something that I longed for. I was somewhat bothered by their experiences because my relationships in regards to my own family was limited. It was that very limitation, however, that brought upon many strengths, as well as many afflictions. But it is those strengths that I am now using to weld character and fuel ambition. Living in a country distant from relatives may not produce the best scenario, but, its opportunities can be worth every distant mile.
by Chinedum Ukandu