Throwback Tuesday: My Little Girl
December 2012 I published an e-book titled ‘For Days and A Night’. If you’ve read it, you’ll probably recognize the story that follows. If you want to read it again – please do.
If you have no idea what ‘For Days and A Night’ is about, please read on.
“But Daddy, shebi if this bread was Nigerian made now, shebi people will start saying they are using juju. See how people are plenty on the line.”
“Baby, the bread is Nigerian made. It is made in Nigeria by Nigerians.”
“But Daddy, shebi you said that Shoprite is a South-African supermarket? Shebi that’s what you said.”
Sigh. My wonderful daughter.
The lady standing in line behind us looks like she’s hanging out with Bovi and Basketmouth at some event. I don’t see the joke.
I wonder why my daughter is standing beside me and not running up and down the aisles like most other kids. Isn’t that what kids her age do? Eerily, she looks anything but her age as she stands beside me with silent dignity, looking up at me with an expression of childish curiosity. I sigh and lean over till my face is on the same level as hers.
“Yes indeed, it is South African business. But you don’t expect them to bring bread down here everyday now, do you?”
She looks thoughtful, posing like the thinking man as though she is actually considering what I’d said.
“But how does the bread taste so different from all the ones we’ve been eating?” she asks.
“Because they probably have their own recipe, imported and all. So what they do is to bring a supervisor who mixes the flour and everything…” I pause to see if she is listening.
“Hmm-mmm,” she nods seriously.
“And then he just supervises the baking. That’s most likely why it tastes different from everything else,” I finish and stretch, wincing from a pain in my waist. This is starting to become an inconvenience, I think.
“Thank you for explaining daddy. Mummy says you’re the smartest man she knows,” my baby says.
That makes me sad. If she thinks I am so smart, why did she leave me?
I can’t find an answer.
Twenty-something minutes later it’s our turn to get bread. I dump two hot loaves into our nearly-full basket and head towards the cash register, my little girl skipping ahead of me. She gets to the fruit stand, raises herself on tiptoes and lifts the largest bag of apples she can carry.
Carefully raising it, she shows it to me, asking for my approval. At my smile she bravely tugs it to the least occupied cash register and waits for me to show up. I get there a few minutes later – having stopped to organize a few surprises for her.
Right in front of us is this annoying young couple. They keep touching each other lightly, teasing, smiling and laughing at each other. They are clearly in love; giggling like two monkeys. The way they are carrying on you’d think they were the only ones in Shoprite.
Some old women and men on the line smile indulgently, recognizing it for what it is. I frown because I recognize it for what it is; two people making fools of themselves over something that is not destined to last. From the left edge of my vision I see my little girl looking at me, definitely about to ask another question. I keep my face straight and frown deeper. She leaves me alone.
Finally we get out.
I ask her to wait by our stuff while I go get a cab from outside the parking lot. You should get a car; I tell myself. Definitely makes things easier all around. By the time I return, she is talking with two young girls dressed as though they are headed for a D’Banj video shoot. I politely but firmly shoo them away and load my daughter and our stuff into the cab.
And then we head home.
“Don’t you like women anymore Daddy?”
You would expect that I would be used to my daughter’s curiosity and strange questioning techniques by now. Sorry to let you down.
“Where did that come from?” I ask, reluctantly turning away from the window to look at my daughter’s upturned face. She really is beautiful.
Her brows gather as she concentrates. “Well, we’ve been together for two weeks now and you haven’t said hello to any woman except the cleaning woman and grandma’s friend.” She pauses. “Mummy says you need female attention,” she concludes.
“Mummy should learn to mind her business,” I mumble under my breath. My ex-wife is a model and therefore attention is the order of her life. And while I understand it is not to make me jealous; it was that way even when we were married. I do not like it.
“I just want to spend time with you. You’re the only woman I need right now,” I say. She smiles briefly at that, and then that look appears on her face. Not this time; I think grimly and quickly ward off what I know is coming.
“I have a friend,” I confess, half truthfully. “I would have brought her to meet you but I wanted this time – just you and me. Haven’t you missed me?” I say, acting hurt.
“I have – and you know, Daddy,” she says, sliding across the back seat to hug my arm. “Okay. But when can I meet your friend?”
“She wants to meet you,” I say as I get off the examination table, quickly putting on my shirt again. The belly I’ve grown over the past three months is embarrassing, and I don’t want her seeing more of it than is necessary.
“Your back is bust,” my physician says. “I think you slipped a disc – your hips are slightly bruised. But nothing a couple of injections and medication won’t cure,” she finishes.
I nod, uncharacteristically fidgeting. It is because she has not answered my question, and I understand why. It implies a different level of commitment…one she probably is not ready for. I am not even sure I am ready myself. We have seen each other socially a couple of times, and we are genuinely fond of each other – we agree it’s not serious.
She pushes her glasses back on her nose and smiles. “Why are you hiding your belly? Potbellied men are sexy you know, and haven’t you heard Wasiu’s song, ‘give the money to the man with the belly’?”
I am thankful I do not have water in my mouth. I would have bathed her; the way the laughter is naturally forced out of me.
On my way out after my injections and prescription, she gently lays a hand on my sleeve. “I would love to meet your daughter. When would you want me to come?”
I am proud of my daughter tonight.
Whatever else my ex is, she knows how to raise a daughter. She has done herself proud with ours.
At her first sight of my friend my daughter kneels down to greet her properly. My friend is so overwhelmed, she hugs my baby firmly. When she finally lets go, my daughter asks, “What do I call you?”
My friend is taken aback. She looks at me for help, and when she does not get any she sighs. “Well I don’t stand on ceremony, so you can call me by name. It’s -”
My daughter interrupts. “Mum will kill me if I do that,” she says seriously. “I’ll just call you auntie.”
‘Auntie’ looks over at me, eyebrows raised behind spectacles. I shrug.
Dinner is a huge success. I am the guest.
They get on so well I am amazed. It is as though my little girl is determined to make a point. It is incredible. Finally, after auntie leaves it is just me and my little girl on the couch.
“So…do you like my friend?”
She considers that for a bit, fiddling with the hem of her dress. “That’s not what’s important to me daddy.” She pauses, and then continues, “does she make you happy?”
Slowly, my eyes overflow and tears trickle down my cheeks.
I am crying.
I really hope you enjoyed the story! Download For Days and A Night free here!
Be wonderful as usual!