My writing was improving, but the offshore security work I was doing was hampering the thoughts and ideas jumping inside my head. That and the fact that guarding foreign vessels against marauding militant pirates was taking a lot of toil on plenty of the Navel personnel I was working with. Some of them, I’m sorry to say it, lost their lives, and its unfortunate that nothing further was said about their noted service. It was almost as if they never existed in the first place.
I knew without thinking too much about it that my days of working with the company was going to come to an end. One way or another, I knew it was bound to happen. My colleagues never saw it this way. In my country, you hold on as much as you can to a job, especially one that’s got up earning too figures that most people would kill to have. But I didn’t care. My writing was beckoning to me. It was either I listened to it, or who knows, I probably would have been one of the soldiers to catch a bullet from a militant’s AK-47 rifle.
I had a two-week time-off break, and I traveled to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to file for an American travel visa at the U.S. Consulate.
One thing most Americans won’t know is this: it’s easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for someone to be granted a U.S. visa. The folks there don’t make it any easy for you. They aren’t there to grant you the visa, but rather seek reasons not to give it to you. And then there’s that hypocritical manner of which they look at most non-Americans, like they presume most Nigerians tend on sleeping under the Brooklyn Bridge once they arrive there.
It was the same month our country’s President Goodluck Jonathan was getting reinstated in his office. There was a lot of security in the city, and stupid of me, I got arrested by a bunch of security officers who thought I was . . . a security danger. I spent half the day in their office writing statements and reports and being interrogated back and forth. I didn’t get to return to my hotel till midnight. My visa appointment was the following morning.
There’s no way to prepare for an American visa interview. Even problematic is the fact that you encounter few people who’ve aced it who can give you comprehensive insight on how to go about acing it. A lot would tell you to check your dress code: wear a suit and tie, look presentable. One thing you should have is every piece of document, financial or otherwise, that the interview folks might request. My heart was racing all the while the woman across the booth threw question after question at me, and I answered like I was fighting for my life.
Q.: Where are you visiting in the U.S.?
Ans.: New York.
Q.: Whom are you visiting in New York?
Ans.: An old childhood friend.
Q.: What’s your reason for traveling to the U.S.?
Ans.: Trying to get a book published.
A good thing I aced it!