I’m told that the first six months in Nigeria are the hardest. After that things are supposed to get easier. My first Sunday here I went to church. Going to service is ingrained in who I am. I wake up automatically at 5am and start my morning preparations. This particular day it was only my Uncle, the housegirl, and myself that were around. As usual I got up read my daily bible reading, prayed, and got ready for church. Then I sat in the living room… and waited… and waited. After some time my eyes began to droop and I laid my head back against the couch. I think that’s when it finally hit me that I was very far from home. At home the house would be bustling with energy and church songs sang by my mum and siblings strumming the air. The kitchen would be full of everyone putting together his or her own special Sunday morning breakfast. Now, in a country distantly my own and far away from my family, that bustling of life was absent. The quiet clatter of the housegirl in the kitchen only made the silence even more pronounced.
I don’t remember much about service that day. Other than there was a lot of fan fare and posh-ness pushed about. I dimly realized this must be a mega-church by naija standards. Excess could be seen everywhere from women dripping with jewels, men wearing pounds in tailored suits, and the polished shininess of the head pastor himself. What I do remember was Truth. Truth was a young woman I met after service. She was roughly my age and with deep set eyes that inspected and discarded summarily at first glance. It wasn’t her eyes that stayed with me all this time but her words. She seemed to spot my new baby smell instantly. After offering a bit of general advice about island life she said,
“In this place you must protect your happiness. That is the only way you’ll be able to live”
Protect my happiness… for days this circled me. I felt as if she had impressed her words on my aura.
It wouldn’t be long before I understood what she meant.