Kenyan American With Straight Talk Chapter 1
Is The American Dream A Nightmare ? - Wed, Sep 25, 3:05 PM After answering a barrage of questions, she looks at you and you look straight back at her straight into her eyes because you were told back when you were being drilled for this very moment that Americans like direct eye contact. Apparently it signifies a person's straight fowardness. Then she smiles, you smile, she reaches for the stamp your heart momentarily stops beating till the stamp lands on your I-20 with a resounding soft thud and you are handed your receipt and told to pay the $100 for your visa at the payment window. Then you are told to come back for it later in the afternoon.
You are elated beyond words and reaching outside the minor "kamukunji" that accompanied you is also taken into joyous overdrive when you tell them you've got it.You are already seeing yourself in the land that spawned the likes of Michael Jordan and Tupac, the land where it is said to be the modern day Canaan just flowing with milk and honey.
The rest of the week is spent packing and planning your "going away bash" for all your boyz as well as visiting all the Honeyz that were on your list and getting some going away love ,hehehehe. Its like when a warrior/soldier goes away to war everyone wants to share those last moments before you are gone.
That final weekend you've taken some of the dollars you're supposed to be going with and are drowning your boyz in KBL products,you are as they say in american-treet-lingo.....ballin like a mutha.
The day of your depature everyone seems a tad emotional and through the haze of an overpowering hangover you smile and say your good byes, you take that mami/teenie who was occupying the number one spot on your list and mumble nonsense like you'll never forget her or him you'll come back for her/him and all that other sweet nonsense that qualifies to be in the liars hall of fame. You are on your way in the plane you go into the sleep of the dead that follows a heavy bout of drinking.
When you are awake you are in the plane and somebody is asking if you would like to be served with lunch or dinner as the case may be. You happen to go through your I-20 and that prefix accompanying your course description starts to bother you... Pre-law,pre-med, Pre-engineering.... all I-20s are usually issued for these professional courses. That should have been the first sign that things may not be as they seem but you discard that doubting Thomas with the resounding fact that no matter what you're headed for the good old U.S of A. It doesn't matter that Pre-X since the sub to follow is med,engineering, law e.t.c probably just the American way of doing things it doesn't mean you aren't going to be a med student or whatever.
You land at O'Hare and are astounded the airport qualifies to be a city on its own. Trying to clear your way through at the check in counter is a
nightmare, you thought you had a tweng but to the official can barely make out what you are saying "yoaxent is tooooww thyck men!" he tells you while your you are still trying to decipher what in God's name did he just say??? Your papers are however in order and he asks so what will you be studying-"Medicine" you proudly proclaim. You see a glint of admiration in the official's face and he tells you!!" Congratulations men n i ish ya'll the best y'eard n welcome to America" you wonder what's the big deal about studying med or law or engineering -this should have been the second sign that things may not be as they seem. You reach the waiting area and you look at the dated photo of your relative, friend or whoever is to meet you at the airport. Well no one here looks Kenyan the only blacks look like they're African American. You see a couple of blacks looking at you keenly and you wonder what's wrong. Then you realize from the eyes and the smile that the
corn-rowed jamaa rocking the latest fubu, sean john, ciko, boss.... gear with the do rag and tims is your bro or cuzo ama that girl with the flowing head of hair,decked out in the latest in chic and looking like a model in those hip-hop magz you used to buy from bookpoint in Nai is your sis, cuzo, aunt or whatever.
You go and after the hugs and all you go out and the car which you hop into amazes you...yes so this is what the U.S is all about so far it matches the picture in your head acquired from watching hip-hop videos and reading those mags. Your jamaaz ask you what you've come to study and you again proclaim pre-X ( Now if you've come on a scholarship or someone else is going to foot your tuition bills then take heart, for from here on in this narrative doesn't relate to you!) The jamaaz look at you strangely and say things like "eeeeeh, that's good"- this should be another sign that things aren't as they seem.
You reach the apartment and jamaaz chill and they ask you questions about home and its just talk. Then as if some invisible bell was rung at exactly four O'clock jamaaz start saying they have to get to work- you're still wondering "kwani ni kazi gani watu wanaenda saa kumi"...in your mind saa kumi is when people are leaving to go back home from work.-still another sign that there something askew with all the glitter on this gold.
Fast forward and you've had to go to some remote state to get an SS#, after which you're told to put it away in a place known only to yourself and never to show it to anyone! For the proclamation on that card is a direct contradiction to the activities you'll soon be engaged in, all in the name of "Part-time jobs" to pay the bills, bills,bills. You are also told about a certain agency that you are to fear and avoid like the plague and if you ever hear it mentioned at your place of daily toil,TAKE OFF!! with immediate effect and never go back irrespective of whether you got your last paycheck or not. You go to school to register and looking at the tuition bill for your chosen course pre-X, you begin to see the wisdom in those embassy people asking for bank statements to prove that you can afford to pay for the entire duration of your studies-you realize it isn't a ploy aimed at shutting the doors to Canaan on wananchi. The "seasoned veterans" tell you to
switch to a more affordable course which means anything else other than those much coveted professional courses for their fees rival the price of a brand new Mercedes SLK coupe or a Lexus SUV. By now you are starting to realize that this glittering American gold is nothing more than cheap coating, scratch underneath and you find nothing but rock- fools gold.
The days go by now you are doing a balancing act,simultaneously doing an odd number of odd jobs- pun fully intended- and at the same time trying to
maintain a full academic load of 12 credits since it's one of the requirements for you to be "legally" in status although the very fact that the toiling you're involved in for your daily bread nullifies your legality since in itself is an illegal action.(I am sure those in America know what I am talking about)
The stress is taking you to the edge. You are doing
work which back home you wouldn't be caught dead doing not to mention the fact that your parents would rather die first than see their child do the kind of work you are doing- that's exactly why you don't tell the people back home exactly what it is you do- you hide under the vague term "odd jobs" or invent fancy titles like: -Sanitary specialist- janitor specializing in the care of bathroom facilities.
-Direct Support Assistant- working in nursing homes
helping patients with daily "personal" cares. I won't describe that any further but those in the know, you know exactly what i mean.
and a host of other for no self respecting Kenyan will come out and tell the world exactly what some of these "Odd jobs" entail.
You even hide it from each other which is in itself ironical especially when one day you happen to work the same shift.
The dream begins to become a distant utopia notion.
You try to make the rest of it by using those credit cards they keep mailing you to "live it up"you have to take on an extra job just to make the car payment for that "mutha of a ride you copped" and your gear, hopping from bash to bash and imbibing copious amounts of liquor to try and escape the realities of life and the fact that your dream has become a nightmare.
Those who have the heart save up enough money and go back home to try and salvage their lives, but some just get caught up and begin living for the day i.e one day at a time....let tomorrow take care of itself.
You don't have the heart to go home and tell peeps that there is no "American Dream" only nightmares, an abyssmal darkness with no sign of light. In the name of keeping up appearances when you do go home you take advantage of the strength of the dollar and ball and live it up impressing your boyz. This however also soon nullifies itself with the passage of time when your peers back home graduate from The Public Unis and albeit after some difficulty or not get jobs and start moving up in life. You go back and you see that actually their bank accounts are beginning to rival and surpass your own and he/she is driving that car and living in that neighborhood you used to talk about. Pushing a 600 benz and living on the westside of Nairobi, getting promotions and moving on up marrying that childhood beauty queen you both
used to dart.
Or even worse they get scholarships to come for masters in the U.S and see the reality of our "American dream" When that happens you stop going home, after all your life has passed you by.
Drop out of school..what's the point of it all? Get a foreign wife, have some kids and settle down to the reality that is the "American Nightmare"
The only time you go back home is when you finally go to unite with your ancestors.
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