by Fairusa Ibrahim
When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to come to America.
My parents and two siblings were already there. At first, I thought I would come sooner. My father was there before I was even born. I was thinking it’s going to be years before I get to America – the land of prosperity and possibilities. A land where every soul is dying to go. Yes, that land is America.
My mother came to the U.S when I was six years old and returned to Ghana after two years then came back to the U.S. My father returned to Ghana from the U.S. when I was ten years old and took my oldest sister and brother. My other sister and I were left with curiosity. We were told that we would join the rest of the family very shortly. Very shortly to me was a month or so. I waited and waited but nobody came to get me.
“Where is this land?” I asked myself. Why is it that everybody who came from that land looks fresh and nice? “Why do they smell like rich folks?” I asked. I would also go there one day and come back just like them. I began to develop so many questions in my head. What has happened to them? Are they still alive? Have they forgotten about us? I know my mother would not forget about me. But why hasn’t she come to get me?
I recall the day my mother went to the United States. I was six years old and didn’t know what was going on. I went to the airport and watched her board the airplane. I began to cry. I cried all week knowing I would not see my mother for a long while. At this thought I said to myself, “What is this thing named airplane? Why does it take my family away and not bring them back?” If I could only find a way to drive that airplane away, I would.I always thought America was up in the sky because the airplane goes up and doesn’t come back. I sat for years waiting for my family to come and take me wherever they were.
Sometimes, when I was younger, I would look up at the sky and talk to it, thinking my parents were up there watching and listening to me. I used to get confused about one thing: If God is up there (as I was told) and my family is up there, then this means that my family is with God and I know that the only people with God are dead people. “My parents are not dead,” I said, “Then why are they with God?” These questions kept bothering me but I spoke nothing about them.
After 3 years, I lost hope in coming to America. My hopes died and all I wanted was for my family to came and visit me. I missed my family and I wanted to see them so badly. When I was 14 years old, I was told that my mother was coming to visit us. I was so excited that I couldn’t eat for the whole day. I couldn’t wait for that day to come. I felt like turning the clock forward but I had to be patient and eventually the day came.
My mother was exiting from the airplane but I didn’t know who she was. Can you believe it? I didn’t recognize my own mother!! She had completely changed from the last time I saw her. I kept asking, “Where is my mother? Where is she?”. Nobody paid any attention to me. They all ran to hug a woman who just came out of the arrivals.
I realized that woman was my mother. I also ran and hugged her. All I heard her saying was “Where is Fairusa? Where is my Fairusa?” I was in front of her but my mother didn’t recognize me either. Of course she would not recognize me. She left me when I was six and came back to see me when I was only 8 years old. I am now 14 years old. “I am Fairusa,” I said. She looked at me rigorously and said, “Oh my God, it is really you. You’ve grown up to be a beautiful young lady.” We spent quality times together and before she left , she said to my sister and I that we would be joining them soon.
“How soon?” I asked because it was obvious that our parents’ meaning of soon was different from my meaning of soon. “In about a year,” she said. At that point I said to myself that I would never get to America. One year to me felt like ten years.