The Fear of the American Embassy is the Beginning of Wisdom

It seems that there is really no end to the quest for the American dream. I drove past the American embassy recently and the people standing in line to attend a visa interview could have easily made the hundreds; all would have paid a non-refundable fee of about $200 for short stay visas to the land that flows with “milk and honey”. People say that for all it stands for, might, smart(s) and all, if one succeeded with the US embassy, how could they not make it on US soil? Over half of those people will be denied visas and tens of the “lucky” ones will be turned back by Homeland Security upon arrival in the US. I have since stopped asking why the numbers swell given the treatment and outcome. I could see that everyone was in line, quite uncharacteristically, standing patiently, waiting to be ushered in. You see, the fear of the Americans is the beginning of wisdom; there are armed Policemen standing around, blocks of concrete cut off the lane on which the Embassy building stands; an imposing and aesthetically unappealing concrete safe haven. I saw a heavily pregnant woman standing in line, supported by a man, who stood by her right, a minor distortion to the straight line of people.

“Is that woman pregnant?” My sister asked loudly, voicing my thought.

“Nobody will give her that visa, she’s made a huge mistake coming here,” my niece quipped from the back seat.

Even my niece knew?

I was reading about a woman who lived in the US from when she was a 9 year old child, and was deported several years later in her adult years, and it occurred to me that perhaps a quick reform of the US immigration system would bring a lot of these games to an end. Millions of people around the world in an attempt to provide the best for their loved ones continue to risk alienation and the unknown to cross borders into what they hope is the answer to their search for a better life. Migration and a perceived better life or better opportunity is almost like a drug; it is addictive and “users” will do anything, anything, to achieve it. Scam schemes abound, from fraudulent so-called immigration lawyers, to domestic human traffickers, there are more and more victims every day. We have heard stories, where the quest for a better life has caused relatives to become stowaways, to sell their own into slavery as batter to migrate, and even after deportation, they scrape up all the money that they have to pay legal fees to appeal a case which their families and their lawyers know they cannot win. You see, not too many people want to live in a country where everyone is a Government unto oneself, where families pay for and provide their own security; no matter how ill-equipped, where people generate their own power and water supply, and rely on a praying and fasting church group every time they have to travel by air or road. Who wants to live in a place where Civil Servants embezzle pension funds of citizens and go scot-free? Nobody wants to live in a society which neither recognises hard work nor rewards it. Nobody wants to live in a society where politicians feed fat on the nation’s treasury and preachers live extravagantly off the generousity of the widow’s steady stream of mite. But I digress.

I imagined the pregnant woman answering the questions posed by a visa officer whose mind has already been made up, as had mine, that she was not going to visit relatives living in the States as she claimed, but was planning to take advantage of the “citizenship by birth” clause for her unborn child. A safety net really, the parents’ gift to their child.

I wished I could stop and take the woman’s number, just to keep in touch and hear her rejection story, to discuss her motives and the waste of money which this venture surely was.

“She should have attended this interview immediately she found out that she was pregnant, before she started showing,” my niece again.

So this is where we are, even from the mouth of babes, everyone knows how to beat the American immigration system for a better life, but most people come out defeated anyway. And they will do it all over again, shaking knees, sweaty palms, quivering lips and all.

Am Not Better Than You Am Just Worried About You

Last week, I made another trip to the hospital! A visit in a series of visits that have come to torment me. Another friend, another diagnosis, another wave of helplessness crashing into already existing feelings of restlessness. My 30s have come with a certain awareness, where I am now comfortable in my own skin, yet I have a yearning for a certain “Je ne sais quoi”. Those feelings aside, I walked up the stairs to the ward where he lay; a strong wave of antiseptic and fried plantains hit me. I do not know if I can eat fried plantains anytime soon. His eyes were closed, his stomach swollen, his skin sallow. Another victim of kidney wahala; three dialysis sessions have now been done with a fourth being planned and donations made by “friends” as health insurance does not cover renal problems. How clever! We smiled and chatted a bit of this, a bit of that. We prayed, I wished him well from the bottom of my being. Hardly enough.

As I drove home, I saw T in my mind’s eye, laughing at me and my worrying. I called him, dreading it, knowing that we would fight, the cold type where no one said any angry words. Knowing I could never tell him the depth of my worry, knowing i could not share all that I was feeling.

“How far? I just visited someone in hospital…just go and have that cough checked out…cut down on red meat and alcohol. Try to lose some weight…blood pressure and kidney functions.” I muttered, embarrassed, but also sad at my embarrassment and fears and inability to say it all.

I saw an awesome post by Matt Thomas where he addressed the pertinent issue of outsiders intruding into one’s life and offering unsolicited advice. Surely that is not extended to family?