After I posted this article about the signs that your friend has japa, I got a lot of funny responses. But when I saw a comment from Simi* saying she was that friend a few days ago, I knew I needed to get her gist. I shamelessly slid into her DM, and she was more than willing to share.
As Told to Memi
My parents live in England, and I always wanted to visit them for the holidays. The ASUU strike fast-tracked the whole process, and I ended up going to school there instead. I was supposed to be in my second year at the University of Benin, studying Foreign Language and Linguistics, but last Friday, I moved to the UK to study Media and Journalism.
When my dad moved to England for work in 2021, my mum went with him, leaving my younger brothers and me back in Lagos. They sent us a lot of money, so we never lacked anything. But we had to become very mature pretty early. Even though I just turned 18 in August , you’d never have guessed because of how mature I am.
I assumed the role of mother to my brothers. I taught my 15-year-old brother how to cook, do the dishes, wash bathrooms, everything. We’d even go to the market together.
But when I started my japa process in March, I couldn’t tell them. Not because I didn’t want to, but my parents were strictly against me sharing the news with anyone. My mum was always talking about the spiritual side of everything.
It was really hard for me during that period because I couldn’t talk about how I was feeling, and whenever anyone was around me, my siblings included, I couldn’t call my parents. We would have to text. The entire chat had to be cleared after each conversation. If I mistakenly mentioned something to anyone and my mum heard about it, she’d scold me so much — it was exhausting.
It wasn’t until I got my visa that I finally told my brothers. My immediate younger brother is really smart, so he wasn’t surprised. In fact, he said he already knew but was just waiting for me to tell him. He wasn’t upset ‘cause we’re guys, and he knows how our parents can be.
I travelled two days after I got my visa. I didn’t have time for any major preparations because my parents wanted me there immediately. My brothers followed me to the airport where we said our goodbyes, and I gave them the last money I had.
My friends didn’t know till I posted a random video of myself dancing at the airport. And since many friends had already relocated to Canada and the US because of the ASUU strike, they weren’t really shocked. I haven’t been able to talk to any of them yet, but I promised to call this weekend.
I honestly don’t feel sad about leaving ‘cause I have just two “friends” in Nigeria now. My parents were also very against relationships while they were around. I’d had my first boyfriend when I was like 12 ‘cause puberty hit me early, but my parents beat all the boyfriend stuff out of me. Now, dating was the last thing on my mind. However, I really miss my brothers. But they always sound so happy whenever I talk to them, so I immediately feel at ease.
My immediate brother recently finished high school and now attends a private university in Nigeria. My parents might’ve made plans for him to come with me if he wasn’t too young to start university here. You need to be at least 18, and he’s 15. My last brother, who’s ten years old, has now moved in with a family friend.
Right now, I’m looking forward to December because my brothers will come over for the holidays, and we can finally all be together again.
*Subject’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
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