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BN Prose: Green Card Marriage By Lisa Baskett



“I’m going to call the police on you, and you’ll be deported back to Nigeria,” the voice yelled out at me from behind the door of our crowded bedroom. “I’m tired of dealing with you. Why can’t you do it the way every other person does it? Don’t expect me to keep harbouring you in my apartment, useless thing. Go out there and make something of yourself. Stop waiting for supernatural intervention, because it’s not going to happen.”

I opened the door slightly to take a look at Adanne, but before I had a chance to see the angry red face of my light-skinned elder sister, a high heeled leather boot flew in my direction. Luckily, I was able to hide behind the cranky unfinished door before it hit my head.  The boot cracked the poor quality wood door before it rested peacefully on the rough, worn carpet. I took a deep breath, relieved that I had managed to avoid potential injury.

“You won’t be so lucky next time, and remember you don’t have health insurance,” she screamed, banging the fragile door. “Don’t bother coming into this room tonight. Go and find somewhere else to sleep.”

I leaned against the door shivering. The vibrations caused by Adanne’s violent bangs on the door made my heart beat rapidly. I knew I wasn’t safe, because she could burst through the door at any time, hurling objects at me or possibly beating me up with her strong hands the way she’d done several times in the past, but I was reluctant to move away.  Where would I go to at one AM in the morning? The bus and train stations had already closed for the day, and I didn’t even have a car, not even a driving licence.

I slumped down to the carpet and cradled myself in the fetal position, waiting for Adanne to calm down. Her outburst has become more frequent and more violent ever since she started working as an insurance sales person, and, unfortunately, I was always at the receiving end of it. She just recently included the threats of deportation in her outburst. During her last outburst last week, she picked up the phone and dialed 9-1-, but just as she was about to press the final digit, I ran towards her and knocked the phone away from her hand. She recovered the phone, but instead of dialing again, she threw it at me. I’m still nursing my left black eye to health using home therapies since that’s all I can afford.

As I rocked back and forth with my head tucked neatly between my thighs, I contemplated what Adanne had said. Why was I so different? Why didn’t I do things the way other people in my situation did things? Why didn’t I get married to an American citizen in a “green card marriage” and get my permanent residency? This, after all, is the only possible legal way for me to shed my illegal alien status, outside of a congress-approved amnesty program. My mind recalled many friends, colleagues, and even Adanne who had drastically improved their prospects in America by this little “business transaction”.

I crawled across the dark hallway into the lit bathroom. I stood up and looked at the mirror. With the exception of the black eye, the long faced, high cheek boned, almond shaped eye, soft lipped reflection told a different story, even with the tears, which streamed down my face. I turned off the light and returned to my fetal position in front of the door, deeply disappointed that my reflection had chosen to conceal my reality once again, the way it always does.  This is the reason why my friends in Nigeria who are unaware of my circumstances always comment on how sure they are that my life is wonderful in America; this is the reason why I get flattering comments on my Facebook pictures; this is the reason why my classmates convinced themselves that I came from a wealthy family during my secondary school years in a Federal boarding school in Nigeria, despite barely being able to pay each term’s school fees.

“I will call 911 and you’ll be deported back to Nigeria,” Adanne screamed into my ears. She placed her manicured index finger on my right temple, and then aggressively pushed my head towards my left shoulder. I cowered in fear before running away to the living room. My stomach turned forcefully, my breath became deeper and heavier, my chest expanded. My fingers coiled into a tight fist, and I felt the vitriol, which I’d reluctantly compacted into a forgiveness file in my brain for the past two years, about to spill like the waters that crushed the levees in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. I drew my clinched fist up and as far back as it could go, then in one powerful stroke I extended it forward. It made a loud boom when it landed into the gray leather chair beside Adanne. A split second before my fist kissed her face, I remembered how unwise such an action would be; I remembered our Cameroonian friend, Asha, a fellow illegal alien who got evicted by her American citizen sister after a fight, so I altered the trajectory of my flying fist.

“Good thing you didn’t do that because you’d have joined Asha at the homeless shelter tonight,” an unfazed Adanne said, strutting back into the bedroom and banging the door behind her. There was silence, followed by the sound of a falling splinter of our cracked bedroom door.

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  1. Oladips

    February 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Shame to have to live in fear, hiding behind a door.

  2. D.O.T.M.H

    February 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

    One of the greatest fears is being an illegal immigrant in another country. To all the Ashas and Adanne’s brothers PLS IT IS NOT BY FORCE. Go back home or get an immigration lawyer to help cos living in fear is not it AT ALL.

  3. Kay

    February 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Interesting story. Please do a continuation.

  4. HRS Olubusola

    February 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Wow! So many Nigerian as well as citizens of other African countries go thru a lot more than this all in the name of seeking greener pasture. It is a shame that Adanne had to treat her sister like that.

  5. Emma

    February 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Although BN Prose seeks to encourage young writers, it should have standards. I honestly cannot remember the last time I read a good story on this site. If this is your idea of what good prose is, I shudder to think of what BN Book Review would be like.

    • Akan

      February 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm


    • DIVA

      February 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      pls write urs lets read…..looking forward to it!

    • Gorgeous

      February 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      i agree this was badly written. And it seems to suggest a lot. Not every Nigerian that travels to America does this. And the system self makes it hard for Nigerian’s especially legal aliens to survive. If your father pays $30k a year in school fees will you just finish school and run back to Nigeria to make how much? Even your father will disown you. Besides it is almost impossible to come into America as an illegal except you overstay your visa.mtscheew

    • Ready

      February 8, 2011 at 8:40 am

      I disagree with you. Other than this article, which was the last prose you read here?

    • Neighbor

      February 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      True, this is just unacceptable

  6. Ronnie's Jeans

    February 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Looking over your shoulder all the time, never able to plan your future.It’s definitely not worth it. Naija is not bad at all compared to that ridiculous situation…!

  7. Akan

    February 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Good job Lisa, but watch the constant oscillation of your tenses.

  8. DIVA

    February 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    good writing…dont know if its real but sure was a great read…pls continue.

  9. Mamush

    February 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Green Pastures ke? America and UK is going to get worse as an economy so i dont even know why people still strive to come here. There are no green pastures here anymore. Matter fact statistics shows many immigrants are migrating back to their home country, especially those from South America. A Peruvian man got a deportation order in Miami to leave the country in 8 months he responded to USCIS that he will leave in 2 weeks cos there aint shyt in USA anymore anyway – his country and all over the south american continent (eg Brazil, Venezuela ) is doing way better. lol – A lot of people have been returning home – Asians, Africans etc ec

  10. sexy

    February 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    It is high time Nigerians beging to think about going back home! its not dat bad if u can use ur brains…afterall people r surviving and there’s an adage that says ‘no food for lazy man’….so wherever u live, f u dont work hard, u wl go hungry….people wey dey London self wan run comot…na shame dey hold dem

  11. Timma

    February 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Why would i want to go and live like that in the US or Uk, when i can be okay in my country??? its high time, we start seeing our country as good, the grass in not always greener on the other side! Though, i quite agree not everybody treat their siblings this way or go through such, but most forget the bond of sisterhood/brotherhood once they arrive”Obodo Oyibo”.God help us all,Amen

  12. nich

    February 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    do not be deceived…if u find your way live the country…..your friends would soon come back to the country and make jest of you… the time the buy the finest cars and marry the beautiful women,,,build a house…you are still where u are.

  13. cdot

    February 8, 2011 at 2:09 am

    i enjoyed that! good job

  14. mourad nebbou

    April 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    hello i in usa since three monthes ogo I m loking for my green card thank you.

  15. Netty Ejike

    April 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Interesting read. Wish I could read more from you.

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