#Article (Archive)

If you could see me now

Jul 7, 2011, 2:07 PM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuyu

“Would you mind to move away a little bit?” A young African American lady said to Binet. She was busy staring at the wonderful products in Victoria’s Secret oblivious that she had come too close according to American standard to the lady in front of her in the queue. If only she could see Onitsha market, how people bump into each other because of space, Binet thought. She backed away a little bit.

“A little bit please.”

The young lady was beginning to get on her nerves as she waited impatiently for her to move away. Binet rolled her eyes skywards, sucked her teeth, a habit she was trying to leave and studied the lady in front of her. Binet realized that she must be in her 20s, the same as she was. She was dark and had a long hair. Binet was sure it was a weave and she didn’t like how her brows were arched. The tip of her front teeth showed when she talked and she did a very good job in trying to hide it.

Binet only backed away again a little bit.

“Thank you,” the girl said and turned away to pay the perfumes she took from the shelves.

Who does she think she is anyway? Binet fumed in her thoughts. She can be Nicki Minaj for all I care. I would have given her the benefit of my tongue if this were my country.

Do I need to tell her that I have a green card and can say or do anything I wish to just like her?

That I am called Oyibo girl – American girl in my country too? The dark-skinned girl collected her receipt and made for the door. Binet’s eyes bore through her back and followed her till she was out of sight.

“Chine kebe!” she said out aloud, raised and let down her shoulders in disgust.

Is racism possible between African Americans and Africans too? She thought. She had almost forgotten that she was next in line. The light-skinned cashier only waited patiently.

“I will go grab a few more things and be right back,” Binet managed in her all new acquired American accent. It took her a year to adjust. The trains made her feel dizzy with their amazing speed. The undergrounds gave her the creeps thinking that she would be swallowed inside like the Sesame cave in Aladdin and the Magic lamp. The food made her want to puke and it made her craving for Egusi, bitter leaf soup and fufu to grow more. Too much chicken and milkshakes gave her belly-fat and she didn’t like to work-out, and the way everyone in school and at her work place were so open with everything didn’t make her comfortable. They just say “My mother or father is struggling with diabetes or brain tumor” or “I caught my husband cheating and so I am going to ask for a divorce” or “I am gonna have this baby in January”. Things were different back home when everyone hid their illnesses and due dates because of fear of the evil eye. 

She smiled unconsciously and said to herself “If Ngozi was here today, if she could see me now, she would have laughed her head out. She would tease me and say ‘Oya, is this you Bineta? Now you able speak Oyibo language like Amina?!’ ”

Amina was their childhood friend who went to England and came back when they were all 19 years old. She acted indifferent when she saw them and that did hurt them.

She would speak the Queen’s English through her nose and pretended that she didn’t speak Hausa.

They later learnt that Amina made modeling as her career. That inspired Binet more and she decided to be a designer once she set foot in New Jersey.

Binet’s eyes roved around the shop and finally landed on a lingerie. This is what I was looking for, she told herself.

“This is exactly what Ngozi needs as a wedding present,” she voiced her thoughts out particularly to no one. She grabbed it with other items including two honey suckle body splashes and headed for the counter. Once she was done, she headed outside as the chilly wind slapped her face.