Story by: Ejine Okoroafor (Part 6 of 6)
A few months later, we received the acknowledgement of our application from the immigration office. Towanda started visiting me frequently and making demands. She wanted a new phone, her car broke down and needed fixing, or she simply needed cash. She expected me to sort out her financial problems. That wasn’t part of our original plans but she threatened to write to the immigration or withdraw our application if I didn’t meet her needs. She grew more demanding with time. I struggled to cope with her demands, paying my bills and sending money home to Maryam and my folk.
Maryam had our daughter. We named her Kenechukwu, thanks be to God. We called her Kaka for short. By now, I was maintaining two jobs and finally moved into my own bedsit.
18 months after the preliminary acknowledgement, the immigration office still hadn’t got back to us. Towanda practically held me at ransom in the same interim with her excessive demands. I continued catering for Maryam, my new baby and my family back home too. My ultimate dream was sorting out my immigration papers, divorcing Towanda and sending for Maryam and Kaka.
I was preparing for bed after work one evening when I heard a knock at my door. Towanda was at the door, luggage in hand. She fought with her boyfriend and had no place else to go. It seemed like I had no choice in the matter. She was simply moving in. She insisted on sleeping on the same bed, even though I had offered to leave the bed for her and sleep on the floor.
It was obvious this wouldn’t end well. I was too tired to argue and lay on the bed beside her. She pulled me up to her chest and bade me sniff white powder off her bare chest. The euphoria was all I remembered from all that might have transpired between us.
I was late for work the next day and subsequent days after nights of licking white powder off Towanda’s chest and transposing to euphoria. When Towanda had disappeared without warning, I found it hard to function. I pleaded for her to return and to bring her white powder along.
Everyone commented on my personality change. I countered that I was same. I lost my kitchen job. My boss insisted that I needed to get my act together. I struggled to keep my second job because of my tardiness. I was absorbed with Towanda and her addictive white pellets. She started sending me on rounds, selling drugs to get some.
My calls back home to Maryam and my folks became less frequent until I stopped calling or sending money home. My plans for Maryam were obscured
One night while I was walking home from the Metro station and approaching our block, I noticed two police cars parked outside our building. I watched from a distance and saw two policemen leading Towanda out in handcuffs. I was scared. I couldn’t return home. I quickly turned back to the Metro station and boarded a train to nowhere.
I felt too ashamed to contact Cousin Ugo or Kodjo. I couldn’t return to my old job. I feared the police might be after me. After a few days of homelessness on the streets, I went to a shelter in the Bronx. I started working in construction. I heard about Angus. He offered me his place. I was determined to rebuild my life.
I got a new phone. I couldn’t reach Maryam and called Ndudi. He told me that Maryam was dead.