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This is not the first homecoming. The last time was the first of its kind which only resulted to some kind of euphoria. When the news got to me that she’d be coming in a month’s time, I could hardly wait. I had always dreamt of the day, going to receive her at the airport. What would she look like? What would she wear? Would she be really tall {a particularly disappointing detail. I thought she would be back with the basketball player height since she had rapid growth, but her growth had reached its maximum}? How would she speak? {I wanted to hear something different from what I heard over a mechanical device} In the unmistakable Nigerian accent? Or the care-free American word-slurs? These questions disturbed me in nothing but a good way. A way of exciting anxiety. The kind of expectation that could only be positive.

After the announcement of her first homecoming, the paranoid warnings of what to say and what not to say in conversation set in. They’d say: “Don’t let anybody hear o”, “Don’t tell anybody o”; in whatever way the warning came, we were warned. As annoying as it was, is and will always be to hide such news from friends and conversation partners, it was worth the caution. It was {and is still} believed that every family has a member or more that engages in the art of diabolism and that they are always against YOU and YOUR happiness. They’d say {in whatever language}, “these evil people are everywhere, even within you, better be careful what you say”. My people believe that if such good news is within their hearing, some unfortunate thing would happen; it could be the possibility of a plane crash or an implication from a drug dealer. Or some other misfortune related to travelling. I then wonder what if no one told anybody anything and something bad still happens, what next? I can only imagine something like “one of you must have said something like this, one of you must have said something” then in a raised voice, “I told you, don’t talk, don’t tell anybody, see now. When you’d be speaking uncontrollably to the world.” to no one in particular.

In related activities to homecoming, changes were required. We don’t live in a luxurious home. Scratch that. We don’t live in a materially luxurious home but are very luxurious with the love and comfort. We didn’t have chandeliers or staircases or fancy, fancy stuffs. In fact, the walls used to be an evidence of children’s artistic talents; a mural of crayons scribbles and pencil drawings and paper pastes. I would have preferred its existence, even till when my sister got home, but my parents were just artistically myopic, so we painted the walls, changed furniture, and stuff like that. Everywhere had to look spick and span. We even got the Nestle bottled water for just her, while we drank the usual.

While making the house ‘a better place’, weeks and weeks went by, it was time; her arrival flight was scheduled for two a.m. We couldn’t sleep the night before, and the insomnia was for two reasons:

We didn’t want to fall asleep; wake by 5 and leave her waiting alone;

We were too excited about her homecoming.

That night, we eventually slept. But very early. On arriving at the airport that very cold morning, my dad, mum, brother and I beamed at each other. My mum’s smile was the brightest, and her silver tooth only made it glisten. There, at the arrival wing, was my dear sister, in a striped cashmere blouse, faded blue jeans and black ballet flats. Her hair was twisted in long locks, and her smile (that gap between her teeth) was the most beautiful thing she wore. That happiness in seeing your family after four long years increased her pace as she pulled her trolley towards us. As if on cue, my mom – most dramatic of all – had tears cascade her cheeks. When my sister spoke, something i had waited for, it was with the popular American accent.

Once again, we were united. This was in 2013.

This year’s homecoming has proven to be different. Paintings have not been done, nothing was changed just extra cleaning and de-cluttering of junks. And my mum and immediate younger brother aren’t there to complete event. The excitement, even though evident, is not as hot as the last time. And it doesn’t mean we’re not happy.

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