My Hustle to 'JAND' – by Abimbola (‘Bima’) Ogochukwu Reju
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
For over 20 years, I had dreamt of travelling out of the country.
Since I was 5, I have had that dream... wondering when I would get on an aeroplane and fly to 'the overseas'.
Back then, I did not believe travelling was for only the rich. After all, mother had told me being wealthy had nothing to do with money. She would say, "your father is a doctor, I am an educationist, you are the richest kid in this close".
(I could boldly rob a bank with that statement).
So it was only natural that I should travel abroad very soon...
Except that, 'soon' was not soon enough for me. My first experience flying was after secondary school. To Abuja and back to Lagos.
(I hear you laughing *yimu*).
Understand that for six years, I had been traumatised by witnessing friends and classmates ‘janding’ every summer (Queen's College can make or break you!) Classmates who would come back from the holidays with their 'obodo oyibo' stories and their 'Arabian' accents acquired in less than a month. I had even lost a friend one year because I was not one of the summer travelers. (But that is story for another day).
Fast forward to my final year at the University (of Lagos), I summoned the courage to apply for my first visa; to the United Kingdom (‘Jand’ finally!)
All along, I figured travelling meant having enough money in your account, getting to the airport, buying a ticket and jetting off. (Boy! Was I wrong or what?)
After 'padding' my account and getting all d necessary documents, I submitted my application...
Dear humans applying for visas: STOP padding your bank accounts for the application. The verifying officers are not fooled by huge sums that magically appear in your account a few days or weeks before your application.
Back to my epistle: I was denied the visa.
(Me ke? DENIED???)
I looked at the Refusal of Visa slip like a hundred times before realising it was not going to change to a visa. How dare they? Did they not know me?? Doctor's child... Principal's offspring.
I cursed the entire government of the United Kingdom and Ireland; cried my eyes out (God had abandoned me). Then I remembered I knew a lot of lawyers, I decided to sue their sorry behinds (anger stage). I subsequently changed my mind to appeal (i.e. glorified pleading). Finally, I accepted my fate, and fell into a state of depression.
I had gone full circle the five stages of grief. (Over common visa faa?) And I vowed to never ever apply for UK visa again. NEVER. EVER.
But... was I not the cheerleader for the saying that "if at the first you don't succeed, try try try again"??". Coupled with the fact that I craved for a white Christmas, just over a year after my initial denial, I decided to apply again. At the time, I had worked only one full year and it had been with a Microfinance Bank. My subconscious whispered continuously to me that the British High Commission was probably used to receiving the applications of staff of mainly the top Commercial Banks, so that I stood no chance. But I went ahead and applied (you know, YOLO).
I vividly remember the day of collection: I literally bounced into the Visa Application Centre in Lekki, in my Sunday's best. I had discussed with myself, saying; “Bima, if you are going to get rejected, you cannot come out looking forlorn and dejected like the usual 'rejects' you see outside the Visa office nah” (*Insert sad-face/'deeper-life' scarfs/scraggly sandals*)
"Miss Abimbola Ogochukwu Reju!"
(I always fill out forms using my full names; just to pique people's curiosity at the different tribal communities represented)
In my fly moment I forgot my own name. Not until one 'nice' lady beside me stretched her neck and saw that my collection slip bore the same name being called (Nigerians are great shaa).
She poked me, and I instinctively jumped up in answer. Then I took the walk…You know that shoulder-pad, eyes-on-the-prize walk?? That was me in all my glory.
(This is it! The moment we have all been waiting for)
I collected my envelope and was about to make my way to the exit. Believe me when I say the pressure I had bottled up all day jumped to the surface, and I made a bee-line dash for the rest room, to the ‘surprisation’ (yes, this word totally does not exist) of the security guard that was waiting to escort me out of the collection arena.
With sweaty palms that were shaking seriously, a sweaty forehead, a near-busting bladder - nervousness at its peak - I tore open the envelope. (Can you finish the story already??)
You know that feeling of defeat, where you begin consoling yourself? Yes. That was me, already giving myself a pep talk. Even before looking inside the envelope.
I told myself I would not look hopeless like the rejected ones outside. I argued with myself that I was probably not ready to apply, all the while scolding myself for not padding my account more...
(*Exits from the Visa Collection Centre*)
(*Inserts the fan used by Hollywood to create 'wind' and blow Halle Berry's hair, with her signature 'catwalk'*)
Now, I am sauntering out of the building, holding a badly torn envelope containing my Nigerian-green passport with a brand new UK 6-month visa stamped on one of its pages. Finally my White Christmas was going to be a reality...
Abimbola Ogochukwu Reju (a.k.a Bima) was a size 1.5 international super-model and palm-wine tapper in her former life. In this life, she is a ‘half-caste’ from various parts of Nigeria; an ex-Banker, now an Events Manager (in partnership with Yawmie Stitchies), who loves to read, and is a (die-hard!) Harry Potter fan. She is also a Salsa dancer, who loves music, humour, telling stories, and enjoys intellectual gossip. If she had a motto, it would be “read a lot, and take something new every time”. (Or something similar)
Bima claims she hates writing… so ‘meetmybusymind’ was compelled to put a gun to her head for this piece. No shots were fired.