30 July 2021

The Baby Cockroach Shells Metaphor: Moving to a New Country

I got a friend, let’s name her *Eve for the purpose of this article to write a story about her emigration experience. I hope you enjoy this read, and please share with your audience.



An image of a couch

A Baby Cockroach Shells Methaphor

When I was younger, we had these “cushion chairs” in the living room at our house in Lagos. “Cushion” because I’m not quite sure of the actual name, but they weren’t leather. They weren’t quite plush either, but I liked them. Anyway, they had this space underneath the arm corners that I thought were bottomless.

I mean, I figured they led to another dimension or something, so I’d put all my trash there – candy/biscuit wrappers, nail clippings, torn papers, whatever. Looking back, it was an extremely stupid thing to do, but I swear, I thought things just disappeared in those corners. 

I spent a lot of my childhood watching TV so I was in my living room a lot. Sat on those chairs a lot, inspecting them and disposing of trash inside them. Another favorite thing was the baby cockroach shells I’d find in those cushion chairs. Again, I’m not sure this is what they are actually called, but I think one of my siblings told me that’s the name. They were kind of square shaped, dark brown, and usually empty. I’d wonder what the actual inhabitants looked like now that they’d left, or what they looked like while they were there…inside. Now as an adult, I find myself thinking of those damn things.


I mean, I figured they led to another dimension or something, so I’d put all my trash there – candy/biscuit wrappers, nail clippings, torn papers, whatever. Looking back, it was an extremely stupid thing to do, but I swear, I thought things just disappeared in those corners. 

Reminiscing About Moving to A New Country

You would wonder why this mundane tale but I moved to another country in 2019. Another continent, another everything. Well, not quite everything, they speak English here. Honestly, I don’t have a “concrete” reason for this move. It’s something my mother wanted, it’s something I thought would be cool. It sounded like the smart thing to do at the time…it was the smart thing to do at the time. So now, I’m in a different country, far away from my family and friends whom I really liked. 

It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been this far away. I mean, I spent a lot of my formative years in Abuja, and when I moved back to Lagos, I  always had it at the back of my mind that I could always vex and go back to Abuja, or go back for a week or two to recharge. So moving never felt like a big deal. But I don’t have that this time. This time, it feels like I’ve lost a part of me I’ll never get back. Like, I should’ve thought harder about what I was doing, should’ve prepared myself more, should’ve appreciated more.

This time, it feels like I’ve lost a part of me I’ll never get back. Like, I should’ve thought harder about what I was doing, should’ve prepared myself more, should’ve appreciated more.

Everyone’s emigration story is different. I mean, my sisters moved to different countries (one more than once) and I don’t think they had as much of a hard time as I have. And I’ve had friends do the same and even start families and they seem fine? But I’m not fine and I don’t know how to be fine or if I ever can be again. 

Life Now and Thoughts of Loosing Myself

I mean, I’m okay now…it’s been 2.5 years so I’ve caught my balance a bit, but boy, did I hit a low. And the annoying thing is, I can’t point to one specific thing that caused this – it’s a culmination of “minor” things that hit my not quite stable mental state.

Being broke, having to start from scratch, losing comforts, losing family, losing friends, WINTER, hating the food (meat is weird and mangos are shit), hating the way they braid hair, hating the price of braiding hair, hating the apartments, feeling alone, WINTER, losing energy for anything, having to make new friends but not quite liking the people I come across, having to build a hotation. The stupidity I’ve had to field from stupid people on dating sites (okay, this happened in Lagos, but I’m still pissed), WINTER, losing my hair (I’m still recovering from this), dealing with flatmates, dealing with upstairs neighbours, talking in a stupid accent, and all that not so fun stuff.

Being broke, having to start from scratch, losing comforts, losing family, losing friends, WINTER, hating the food (meat is weird and mangos are shit), hating the way they braid hair, hating the price of braiding hair, hating the apartments, feeling alone, WINTER, losing energy for anything, having to make new friends but not quite liking the people I come across, having to build a hotation.

Honestly, it’s not so much the loneliness as it is the fact that I no longer feel like myself – I feel like those stupid baby cockroach sheels. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like I’ve “had” to change so much to adapt to the new things and so much of my old self is gone, and I have no idea who this new person is or supposed to be. My sister jokes a lot about how I do/eat stuff I ordinarily wouldn’t, and when she goes, “who is the person??” I want to cry that I don’t know. 

Figuring Things Out



Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I enjoy trying new things, I’m just sad that whoever I was before 2019 is no longer here. And it’s affected a lot of my old friendships. Two weeks ago, a friend from secondary school told me she stopped chatting with me because I came off as stuck up when in actual fact, I spent all of 2019 depressed and crying. Okay, we could unpack why this friend couldn’t have been more charitable towards me and had an honest conversation, but these things are hard.

But that made me wonder if I’m the reason my friends don’t talk to me much. I mean, I did have some resentment because it felt like everyone moved on and I wasn’t in the picture any longer and maybe they just didn’t love me as much as I loved them, but maybe it was me all along and they didn’t feel like/know how to reach out. I’m rambling.

Anyway, as shitty as this post is, it’s my way of saying, I was down in the fucking dumps and I’m finally getting better. Might take me another year to be “good” but I”m celebrating this progress. I cut my hair and then locked it myself (you can’t tell me nothing, I’m proud of myself), I got an apartment to myself (in a “sketchy” neighbourhood but whatever), and I have a cat; something I’ve wanted since 2017 but wasn’t quite proactive about.

An Ode to Old Things




Like I mentioned in the beginning, I have been thinking a lot about those damn baby cockroach shells. How often the empty shells are metaphors of my past self, reminding me of who I once was and what I am leaving behind.

Also, If you’re my friend and you’re somehow reading this, I’m sorry I couldn’t get over myself and be the friend I used to be. Not too sorry, though. You weren’t too spectacular yourself.

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