Paradise Lost

The weather that morning was gloomy, the clouds overcast the sky like they were on a parade, Uche got up from the bed, he had to go to the local market to purchase some foodstuffs, purchasing things at the local market at Ipoh brought back reminisces about home, Malay women were well versed in the art of haggling, and they always found a way to pass their message across to him, since arriving In Malaysia he had been slow in learning the native language. He went over to far end of the room and washed his face in the bathroom, he had asked the agent for a self -contain apartment but the room he got was more like a container it was rectangular and was divided into two unequal halves the smaller portion was turned into a bathroom with a toilet bowl that reminded him of his brother’s potty back in Nigeria, he had to create a little corner at the north end of the room where he cooked on the little kerosene he inherited from the previous occupant.

After washing his face, he changed to his white shorts and slipped on his Nigerian Jersey and exited the room, he bumped into Tony in the hallway, and instantly wished that he had lingered for a little while in the room, he was not in the mood for small talk but Tony breezed past him and entered his apartment, well it was obvious he had given up on him. Tony was in the “other business” and since Uche arrived in Ipoh, he had been trying to recruit him, the number of jobs available for immigrants was very few, and you either did odd jobs or trafficked hard drugs.

When Uche was still in Nigeria, boys from his village had been arriving back from Malaysia with the latest Cars and they threw parties every evening. He visited Chima who promised to help him get a job in Malaysia, he also promised to help him with processing his visa when he was ready to travel. Chima returned to Malaysia after one week but by then he had ignited Uche’s desire to travel out. All his thoughts, dreams, visions were all directed to Malaysia. Whenever he had a dream, he saw himself in Malaysia. When he woke up, it looked as if he woke up in Malaysia. When he ate, it looked as if he was eating Malaysian food. Whenever walked out of the house, it will look as if he walked into Malaysia. When he looked at people, his parents and siblings around him, it will look as if he was looking at Malaysians. His mind was no longer settled, even in his academics. It looked as if Malaysia was calling.

When he graduated from the university, he informed his parents that he would like to travel to Malaysia, his father tried to discourage him but to no avail, his heart was already set in Malaysia, when his father saw his persistence he gave him money to process his visa. He contacted Chima the following day and he directed him to the person who would help him in processing his visa,after three weeks the visa request was granted. When he received his visa, Uche was on cloud nine he went around telling everyone of his change of status, he departed two days later. When he arrived at Kuala Lumpur Chima was waiting for him at the airport, after the hugging and pleasantries, Chima took him to his apartment in the heart of the city.

The building where Chima lived was more like a Nigerian settlement, up to eighty-five percent of the people living there were Nigerians. Chima introduced, him to his “business associates”, James, Nduka and Stanley, they all welcomed him and assured him of his change of fortune. Chima told him to take the remaining days of the week and do some sight-seeing and familiarise himself with the city, he told him that he would start to work the following week. Uche took his advice and went around the city admiring its landscape and people, he was on his way back from the cinemas with James on the final day when they saw a horrifying sight, policemen had raided the building where they lived and rounded up all the Nigerians living there, he ran into a shop on the street with James and watched the scene, Chima and the others were among those arrested, they were all being bundled up into the police truck, Nduka tried to run and he was shot in the leg.

He later found out that they operated a drug ring in the city, one of their competitors tipped off the police, out of the twenty-seven people arrested that day only twelve were released, the others were found guilty and they are currently on death row, Chima, Stanley and Nduka were among those convicted. After the raid in the building he followed James to a hotel where they spent the Night, they remained in the hotel for one week while planning their moves, James travelled to Trinidad and Tobago , while he rented his new apartment at Ipoh. He secured a job as a cleaner at the city mall. He worked only at night cleaning the mall with other cleaners after it closes.

As he was about to exit the building, a big Police truck turned around the street corner and came to a halt in the front of the gates, six fierce-looking policemen jumped down from the back of the truck and started entering the building, he wanted to run back into the building but he knew that it would draw unnecessary attention to him, he just kept on walking and hoped that they would ignore him, he was stopped by one of the officers, he had a huge chest and arms as big as pillars, the size of his lower body made it evident that majority of his hours in the gym was spent developing his upper body. He looked Uche in the eye and said, “So you are a Nigerian”, Uche was wondering what made the officer know his nationality despite his fair complexion, then he realised that in his white shorts and Nigerian jersey that he looked like a walking flag.

Can I see your papers? he asked in a manner which showed that he did not trust Uche to be a legal immigrant. They are in my apartment, Uche answered pointing upstairs. Take me there, I will like to examine them. Uche turned and started leading the officer towards the stairs, when they got to the staircase they were a commotion, noises were coming from upstairs, suddenly Tony appeared and he was running towards Uche, in pursuit were two officers, he pushed Uche aside but was caught with a blow to the jaw by the officer coming behind Uche, he fell to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The officers pursuing him came forward and dragged him to the truck. When Uche got to the hallway he saw another officer coming out from Tony’s room with what looked like a stash of drugs.

Uche entered his room and retrieved his documents from the bedside drawer and gave it to the officer who examined it the same way a Nigerian policeman would examine your car papers when you refuse to bribe him. He looked up at the document and said, your visa would expire in a week time, so I take it you will be going back home then. No sir, I intend to renew it this week. The officer smiled for the first time and added brown teeth to his list of admirable qualities, it is obvious that you don’t know anything about this papers you possess , this is a “visa no reference”, what that means is that you would only be able to renew it in your country. The news hit Uche like an express train, he just stood there dumbfounded, the officer handed him back his papers and left his standing there with his mouth agape. A million thoughts were running through Uches’ mind at once, he was never aware of the fact that he had to go back home to renew his visa.

He went inside changed his clothes and headed to the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the lady at the embassy confirmed what the officer has told him, Uche was so devastated, he did not know how he would face his parents, especially his father, but he knew that if he prolonged his stay in Malaysia, he would be in big trouble if caught. He went back home and locked himself in his apartment and did not go to work, he tried to contact James but his number was not reachable. By then he knew that he had no choice but to go back, he continued to work the next day, after the week ended and he was paid, he packed his bags and left for Nigeria.

4 thoughts on “Paradise Lost” by Ogochukwu Obiajulu onyema (@ajulu)

  1. Hmmmm, aptly titled. It’s sad how young people’s dreams can die. Very well written!

    1. thanks for the comment @ feliciaTaave

  2. Great story. Many Nigerians think abroad is a bed of roses with streets paved with diamond. Many went leaving behind good jobs and.chances in order to make it.big.

    Dreams are good but before taking action, it is wise to count cost and.get all facts about the journey straight.

    Uche is one.out of thousands who get deceived by “well meaning” friends. Thankfully he didn’t get mixed up with Chima’s business and got arrested. He is one of the lucky ones

    1. Nice advice, thanks for adding that @madarline

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