This time, it is home that feels strange and this surprises me and yet doesn’t

The first time I went back to Abuja after more than 6 months away; it was a surreal experience. The bed felt weird, the house felt weird, Abuja felt weird.

This time, my mind and heart know what they are going to see and so the bed feels like an embrace, the kitchen doesn’t seem so large and the city feels like somewhere I actually know. The streets are familiar, the taxi routes I know and I know what shop is best likely to give me what item.

The sounds are familiar too – my nephew’s cheerful voice as he tells me that his horse has fallen on me, my mother’s steady conversation, my sister’s teasing, my silent but always present brothers, my sister-in-law in one of her laughing conversations with one or the other of us. Outside, the familiar sounds of the early morning call to prayer, the birds outside my house, the hum of traffic and conversation and bottles clinking as people gather for an early evening drink.

When I walk into my flat; the first thing that strikes me is how silent it is. How come I have never noticed? I listen to the hum of the generator outside my window and try to imagine for a second that I can hear my little nephew’s voice as he informs me that he is off to watch cartoons with grandma.

I know that in a few hours…or maybe a few days, my energy will fill my space again and opening my door will feel like walking into the warm embrace of a familiar sweater. I know that my bed will not feel so unwelcoming and that my kitchen will issue its siren call as we try out a new recipe.

But today; this place doesn’t quite feel like home.