“What happened between you and my mum?”
I kept looking around the Barcelos’- hoping I would see either a ‘quiet’ or ‘no kids allowed’ sign.
No such luck.
I didn’t – couldn’t meet her face. But it wasn’t because of anything other than that she had asked me a question I didn’t have an answer to.
What had happened?
What went wrong? When did we decide to…
No. We didn’t decide anything. SHE had asked for a divorce and something – probably guilt, had stopped me from arguing or fighting.
In fact, the only reason there are divorce papers is because it was a formality since we did the registry thing. Churches do not acknowledge divorce.
But what had made her ask for a divorce? I wasn’t unfaithful. Where was the time? I was barely able to come home for dinner at times, I was gone before they were up – all in the name of providing them with what I thought they needed most. The almighty naira.
Interesting; looking how far that got me.
And that; is what the problem was. Is. Because I haven’t stopped working absurd – nothing short of ridiculous hours.
That was what made her ask for a divorce.
I was working myself steadily towards an early eternal rest…my excuse being there were things to do and no time. So I put work first – and everything came next.
“What happened, daddy?”
I finally looked her in the eye, cut to the heart to see the unhappiness lurking in their innocent depths and knowing I was responsible. It hurt a lot to admit it, but I hadn’t been such a hit as a husband or father.
Shame on you; I thought.
“What happened?” I repeated. “I don’t know exactly what it was, but somehow it was my fault. I think I just stopped talking to her.”
She cocked her head sideways, dangling the fried-rice stained spoon in her hand as she watched me. “But dad, didn’t you live in the same house?”
But this time, I knew the answer.
“Baby, you still have most of your toys?”
She smiled confidently. “Huh uhn.”
“But do you still play with them?”
She put the spoon down and set her chin in her palms, looking at me intently. I was suddenly afraid I had used a wrong example.
“Are you saying mum was a toy and you outgrew her?”
Uh oh. “That’s not what I…”
“That’s not nice daddy. Sorry I interrupted you. That’s not nice still.”
I scratched my head. This girl must be punishment for my mistakes – and it would seem as though they were just beginning.