On the day of the interview, I woke up early and prepared.
I said a few lines of prayers and walked to the administrative block where the interview center was located.
Inside the waiting hall, I sat down with a few others who were to be interviewed that day. I waited for close to an hour before my name was announced through the intercom overhead.
I stood up and walked into the interview room number 3.
“Sit down please,” the lady interpreter said.
“Would you like to talk in English, Deutsch or French?”
“English,” I said.
Solomon already told me in the past that they would want to twist things to trap me into making mistakes. It was already playing out before me. For one, I told the Police in Berlin that I knew only English. I also told the asylum officials that I knew English on the day I came to Bremen. Why then did this tricky woman ask if I would like another language?
“Wie heist du?” The interviewer asked.
“What’s your name?” The interpreter asked.
“Jennifer Ebot,” I said.
The memory of Solomon flashed though my mind as I mentioned Ebot. It was his name and it was my name. We were still attached somehow. I only hoped he would remember it before he chose to throw me away like he was doing.
“When did you come to Germany?” The interviewer asked in Deutsch.
The interpreter told me what she said and I told them when I came to Germany.
The answers to all their questions were already covered and each question brought back the answer to my head even if it was forgotten.
The most interesting part was when I told them how I escaped with my mother when my father was killed. I told them a boat took us from Cameroun to somewhere called Warri in Nigeria. It was in Warri that I found a white man at a night club. The white man said he worked in a ship as a captain and that they transported oil from Nigeria to many places. I had told the man that I would like to follow him on one of his trips and he agreed because he said he liked me.
At the end, I told them how I followed the white man in his ship to Spain before I eventually followed another black man to Germany. I also told them the black man abandoned me and left me stranded in Berlin where I had to beg for food from people until someone told me that I could go and get asylum. I told them how I eventually ended up with another black man who after sleeping with me, threw me out of his house before I found a police station and reported myself.
After my story, I could see mixed expressions on their faces. I could tell they believed me but it didn’t really matter whether they did or not. I was ready to go home to Nigeria. I was mentally and physically tired. I was defeated in life already and I didn’t want to care about anything else. The only thing that really mattered to me was Solomon. Every dream I had of living with him was dying slowly with each passing day. I didn’t know he had such stubborn heart until what happened in the woods in Bremen. I didn’t believe he could ever do such thing to me but it was my fault and I never stopped to blame myself for everything.
“Miss Jennifer, you can go now. We will get back to you soon,” The interpreter said after the interview.
I slowly got up and walked straight to the phone booth to try my luck once more. It was true that Solomon was no longer there for me, but I still felt to tell him everything I did each day. I had just finished my interview. I knew he didn’t care but I wanted to tell him. I prayed that the call I was going to make would be one of those times when he would pick the call and listen without saying a word. If that was the case, I would tell him what I did for the day, the same way I have been doing for days.
At the phone booth, I waited for my turn until it was time. As usual I dialed his number and waited until he picked it.
He said nothing as usual, he just listened.
“Baby, I just want to tell you that I did my interview today. I don’t know how I performed. I wish you were there to remind me some of the things you taught me about the interview. But unfortunately I made the mistake that turned me into a walking statue. I know you are listening to me and I thank you for that. I just want you to know that even if you don’t talk to me for the rest of our lives, I am still happy that you listen to me at all, it’s better than anyone else talking to me,” I said.
As usual, I monitored the call time. The two Euros I put in the booth usually ended in two minutes. It was getting to one minute and 55 seconds when I heard his voice.
“Hello sweetheart, I want to…” Solomon was saying before the phone died.
Unfortunately, that was all the money I had. I cried my way back to my room.
I didn’t have friends at the camp; there was no one to lend me money to call Solomon back. Unfortunately he couldn’t call me back either. The only person who could give me money was the same Emmanuel but I no longer spoke to him. For the fact that I needed to hear what Solomon wanted to say, I had no option than to return to Emmanuel. I was going to do whatever it takes to hear what Solomon wanted to say. My life depended on it. He had just called me ‘sweetheart’, something he has not done for weeks. Something has changed and I was determined to find out even if it meant getting help from Lucifer.
I couldn’t wait for Emmanuel to come out; I went to his room and knocked. When he opened the door he was with another girl. I was torn between asking what I came for and turning around but since I had no right over how he lived his life, I called him outside the room.
“It’s not what you think, it’s you I love, she just came to my room but I …” Emmanuel was saying when I interrupted.
“Please, I need small money to make a call,” I said.
He fumbled in his pocket and produced 5 Euros.
Something told me he was scared but I didn’t care. I was sure he still haboured the feelings for me but the position I found him just put an end to whatever thing he ever thought would happen between us.
I walked straight to the phone booth and dialed Solomon once more.
“Hello Sweetheart, how are you?” Solomon said.
He called me the same name again. Something was going on. It didn’t matter if the borrowed 5 Euros finish again or not. The sweetheart he called me was enough to sustain me until I have money to call him again.
I started crying.
“It’s okay, I am no longer mad at you. I am sorry for how I treated you. Please stop crying. I will come to Bremen be for before two days,” he said.
I didn’t know if he was serious or not, but it was better than everything else to hear him say reasonable words.
“They said I have lost a lot of weight,” I managed to say before the 2 Euro coin finished.
I put another 2 Euros inside the phone booth and dialed Solomon again.
He repeated that he would come to Bremen.
“I know you will not come,” I said and started crying again.
He begged me to stop crying. He said he would come to Bremen and that he would make everything up to me. He said I have suffered enough and that he would not have done what he did because of what I did. He even said it was him who exposed me by sending me away to the camp.
When I returned to my room, I slept for hours until late in the evening when I went to the mall. I had 1 Euro left from the money Emmanuel gave me. It was enough to buy a small cup of vanilla ice cream which I liked so much. I was already feeling better, Solomon, for some reasons best known to him, had decided to talk to me again. It was a win for me because I thought I lost him for good.
I was bent over a large refrigerator, admiring a large bucket of ice cream when the voice said behind me, “You have lost too much weight, what happened?”
I turned around and looked him in the eyes. I touched his hand to make sure he was human. It was Solomon standing right before me.
Happy Birthday to me
The Ozoigbondu 1 of Berlin.