Despite all your travels and adventures, there is great importance in returning home.
It’s essential that you return home whenever possible. Twenty years ago this month, I took a trip back home to Nigeria before embarking on my Adventures in California at University.
Preparing for Adventure
My bags were all packed, well, most of it. I was not carrying much. I was going to get my stuff when I arrived in Los Angeles, California. California had called my name, Biola University to be precise, had tugged on my heart from the moment I set foot on the campus during my tour of campuses the summer before.
Well, now I had my visa stamped, and I was ready to go. Yet, I knew there was something else I needed to attend to before commencing my new life as a University student.
I grew up with a father who always talked about his home. When we lived in Nigeria, he made so many trips to Asaba, our hometown. Before long, I was his travel partner, taking trips from Akure to Asaba.
It had been four years since I had set foot in Nigeria. I missed my childhood hometown in Akure and our family home in Asaba. My heart was longing for home and family. Yes, the years in Zambia had been good to me. I had grown in so many incredible ways. But it was time to return home
So now that I had gotten my school plans all sorted out. I had already gotten my Visa, knew who my roommate was and was already emailing her. It was time for me to make a quick trip home. It would be a hello and goodbye trip.
Returning to MY Childhood home
So my father and I embarked on a return visit to Nigeria. Landing at the Murtala International Airport, the warm heat welcomed us. At the airport to meet us was my Uncle.
It felt so good to be back to see my loved ones. I enjoyed getting to fellowship with them and catch up on all the news and gossip.
But what I truly enjoyed was the delicious meals that I had missed eating.
After only a few days in Lagos, my Uncle, my Dad’s elder brother, killed a goat in my honour and celebrated my graduation from high school and my admission into University.
Relatives came to the party. It was good to see my cousins. I thoroughly enjoyed my goat meat with pounded yam and egusi soup. Yet it wasn’t only my stomach being filled, but my heart as well.
Soon it was time to head to Akure, where I enjoyed rekindling relationships with my childhood friends. It was an excellent opportunity for people to see how much I had changed in four years.
Although I enjoyed seeing the old stomping grounds, time was not on our side, so we sadly bid farewell to our friends and headed to Asaba.
On arriving at home, we were treated to pounded yam, ode nsala soup and some mouth-watering fish. That was the welcome package.
I also got to spend time with my cousins and Aunties, and Uncles. I even got to visit the palace.
Yet the most memorable event during my brief time at home was the 30th of July when I turned 18 in the family home. My relatives gathered around me and celebrated the day with me.
The Last days at Home
It was around 4:30 am, a day before we were to leave Asaba and head back to Lagos. I was enjoying my sleep when I suddenly felt someone tapping my legs. On opening my eyes, there stood my Grandma peering down at me. I shook off the sleep and sat up quickly. One never kept Grandma Chijindu waiting. She believed in people doing things quickly and efficiently.
She joined me to sit at the edge of the bed, and then she started talking to me. I was no longer a child but blossoming into a lady and moving far away from home. So she had a lot of words of advice for me that day. Then she ended the session with blessings and prayers. Then she handed me a gift.
A day later, we boarded a Delta Line car bound for Lagos. In the vehicle were my Grandma, two Aunties, my father, myself and the driver. My Papa sat in front. The two Aunties sat with their Mother, my Grandma and I sat at the back with some of the luggage. In that car, we’re three generations.
When we got to the car park in Lagos, we went our separate ways. I had the presence of mind to take a picture with my Grandma. It would end up being the last time I saw her this side of eternity. Because almost a month after I started university in California, I would get the news that she had gone to rest.
It’s been 20 years, I have returned home several times since then. Going home to Asaba is not the same as when my Grandma was alive. But we still gather together when we can. Sometimes the gatherings happen in Lagos, Baltimore, Nairobi, Arizona, Texas, Florida and anywhere two or more are gathered.
Knowing I have a home and family is what has kept me strong all these years. I know I am blessed to have had the privilege of returning home several times. However, I have learned to carry my home in my heart.