Whoever has lived in America for up to a year would have acquired a new kind of identity whether they like it or not. It could be the one they themselves realize, or those that is bestowed upon them from those who occupy a different clime. In the case of someone like me, he might have learnt to spell the word learnt as “learned” and mum as “mom”, to write dates with the month first, to eat pizzas, to shake hands firmly, smile everytime his eyes make contact with a stranger’s, use expressions like “I was like…” and wash clothes with washing machines rather than with hands. If he’s also from Nigeria, like me, he would also have learnt to stay up all night making most use of the internet, or leaving the lamps on in his bedroom for as long as possible. And eating grapes. And getting home deliveries of food whenever one is too tired to cook or to go out. In any case, all those are about to change, along with new disengagements in language.
I do not yet know the extent of my enslavement or adaptation to the American English speech patterns, and I might not know until I get back home. But this I know for sure, somebody is going to point out to me soon enough when I get to Lagos that “going to the bathroom” could only mean one thing: going to take a shower. If I want to go to the toilet, I will have to say so. I will leave medication in the United States and return to drugs in Nigeria and not feel ashamed to call it that. Old people will return to being old people and not senior citizens, and when I say I’d like to eat yam, I will have yam, I will be sure that impostor potatoes won’t surprise me in the most unexpected part of the plate. Potato chips will return to being potato chips, and the fries will remain the America.
Let the disengagement begin.