Crying. Tears that lead to wracking sobs, the only thing you would hear if you watched a woman reunite with a man who she had not seen in twenty-seven years, her brother.
I stood with my mother at my side after my first ever interrogation by an immigrations officer. My backpack grew heavier and heavier while I scanned a massive, moving crowd of people in the London Heathrow airport, looking for a face that I had never seen before. There was a shout from the crowd as a man who looked vaguely familiar pushed his way through an already irritated crowd. To my right, my mother, a demure and private woman, began yelling also. I was confused by this transformation. Who was this wild woman and what had she done with my mom? The sweetest little girl and a tall, statuesque woman followed the man. The girl, Priscilla, is a cousin of mine, the only female cousin that I have met.
Listening to my uncle tell stories about their lives, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of intense envy and pride. Envy because this girl who was only five years old was living the life I could only dream of having. Living in London, attending a beautiful private school that my parents couldn’t afford, traveling back and forth between England and Nigeria, where the majority of our family still lived near our tribal home and she wasn’t even aware of the opportunities that she was partaking of. But I couldn’t help but feel some pride too. Pride because she was so confident and well spoken. She knew what she wanted and she used everything in her power to get it; in the few hours that I spent with her, I knew she had the power to change the world within her tiny yet masterful hands. After that day, I would have the pleasure of saying that I had met her.
We were only able to spend a few hours with them, driving around the city and learning new lingo that could be heard only in the UK. We had to get back to the airport to catch our connecting flight to Ireland.
When Americans think of Europe, they think of London, Paris, or even Madrid. It is rare that they immediately think of Dublin, the capital of Ireland.
The reception that we received in Dublin was beyond moving for me. Similar to London, there was the crying, the hugging, and the use of an excessive amount of tissues; however, this time when my aunt and my mom saw each other it was eerily silent. Locking eyes, they went in for a hug and clung to each other desperately, not letting go. It was like they were silently communicating the pain and misery that they shared from not having seen each other in over twenty years. The ride to my aunt’s apartment was the complete opposite. We all chattered on as if we were long lost friends trying to fill the hole that distance had created.
Upon arrival to our new home for the week, I was greeted at the door by my grandmother. I had met her once, eleven years ago and I was surprised to see how frail she had become. Looking beyond the exterior, I could see a woman who was still as headstrong as ever and had endured a great deal in her lifetime. Standing in front of me was the woman that I had heard stories about my whole life and I now was a part of her legacy.
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