Every chance I have, I try to spend with my little gremlin, who colors my life better than any combination of colors. So whenever she’s around, I take her to the movies, and of course we have conversations afterwards.
Here are a few of her thoughts on some of the movies this year:
Spiderman: Homecoming – ‘I really enjoyed the film. It’s nice…I understand the boy! I don’t get all your complaints…mommy was right! You’re old!’
Me: ‘Your mother thinks I’m old?’
Her: ‘Well, she said ‘your father is the cutest old man I know’.
Me: ‘Well. Banana fall on her!’
Of course, I didn’t say that out loud.
Read My Crash Review of Homecoming Here.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2: ‘If I was that one (Drax) I wouldn’t go around calling people ugly. Look at his mouth!’
Me: ‘Didn’t I say not to insult people?’
Her: ‘He started it!’
Me: ‘But he wasn’t talking to you…’
Her: ‘Didn’t you also say to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves?’
Read My Review of GoTG 2 Here.
Wonder Woman: ‘I like it. It was nice…but I like Hidden Figures better.’
Her: ‘Not all of us can jump around and fight like that, but all of us can think and change the world.’
Me: ‘That is the idea…to make people understand that you have choices. Some of us fight for others, some of us improve the world – as long as we’ll all doing something or the other.’
Her: ‘That’s true. (pause) We all have choices, abi? My choice is Hidden Figures sha.’
Review Coming Soon.
Logan: ‘Why are you crying, Daddy?’
Me: ‘Well…I wasn’t – (she frowns) well…it makes me miss you.’
After the movie
Her: ‘Daddy, if I leave mommy and come and live with you, will that make you stop crying?’
Me: *cries some more*
Read My Thoughts On Logan Here.
Of course, none of that happened. I don’t really have a daughter.
Hehehehehe! Have a great week!
She smells of Imperial Lather.
I hug her firmly, squeezing her chubby-fat nine-year old frame. Her thick arms circle my neck and she squeezes back. In this moment I’m as young as she is, giggling and laughing and holding on for dear life. The way we are behaving you would think we haven’t seen each other all her life.
But I was here yesterday. Not that it matters.
Inhaling, I draw in the sweet-smelling scent of her ‘shukued’ hair – hair her mother spent quite some time making. I breathe in my daughter, trying to close my mind to the image that keeps intruding; image of her lying down, tubes attached to her arms –
“I’m okay. I’m okay now, daddy.”
I open my eyes and she’s looking at me – looking in my eyes with her beautiful brown ones. I want to ask what she means – how she knows what I was thinking – but she just smiles and leans her forehead against mine.
“You can put me down now, daddy. Mummy’s waiting for you.”
I kiss her nose gently – and grin as she giggles in that cute way she has. Looking over her head, I try to pierce the dark corridor behind her with my eyes. Her giggle floats up to me and wraps itself around my head – pretty much like a dust cloud – and then gets into my heart.
I go on one knee and pull out a box from the white nylon bag I had placed beside my leg before carrying her earlier. I watch her face as I open the box, grinning proudly as her expression goes from raised eyebrows – simple interest – to widened eyes and open mouth.
Chubby fingers crawl; hesitantly, much like a snail peeking out of its shell to see if the coast is now clear – and reach into the box for the white-gold bracelet gleaming against the deep-red velvet inlay. The fingers touch, prod – but do not attempt to move the bracelet.
And then they withdraw.
“Is that for mommy?” a hushed voice asks.
I nod, still grinning. “Think she’ll like it?”
“Think I’ll like what?”
I nearly knock my daughter senseless as my head swings – at the same time with hers – towards the source of the voice. We turn and freeze; looking very much like kids stealing meat from the pot in the middle of the night – and suddenly; the kitchen lights come on.
But I’m sure we froze for different reasons.
My daughter probably froze because we had been talking about a gift for her mother – something that was supposed to be a secret – at least till I give it to the owner.
I froze because – well; I still cannot get over how beautiful she is.
Her arms are behind her head as she walks forward, doing something to her hair, small movements that send ripples along the multicolored gown she’s wearing and sets my heart racing. The gown shimmers and ripples along her thighs; thighs I know are a shade lighter than her ready-to-drink Milo complexion.
Slowly, I close the box and rise as she comes to a stop in front of me, head bent, looking at my – our daughter who is giggling and trying to hide behind daddy’s legs – then she looks up into my eyes.
“Hello, dear. Think I’ll like what?”
My eyes drop to the still open box in my hand and hers follow like north and south poles of different magnets. Her face is very much the reflection of our daughter’s from minutes ago; from polite interest to surprise –
Her eyes dart back to my face, mouth hanging open like the cleavage area of a low-cut blouse. I clearly see her throat muscles work as she tries to swallow past something in her throat – I see her liquid eyes become even more fluid – water starts to overflow.
“Is that…is that…” she swallows and tries again. “Is that…for me?”
I don’t respond. I just push the box into her hands – hands that are suddenly softer than wet biscuits. I hold onto the box till her hands firm around it – and then I let go and step back.
She steps with me, throwing herself into my arms and wrapping hers around me. Her head nestles against my chest and I feel thirty feet tall. If she asks me to storm Borno all by myself to take on those guys – I wouldn’t hesitate.
God help me.
“I love you,” she whispers, strength in her voice putting the tears wetting my shirt to shame. She moves her head and kisses my jaw softly. “I love you, you hear? With everything I am and hope to be. I love you.”
“I love you too,” I answer, and clasp her to myself – as though I want to pull her through my chest and into my heart. She sighs peacefully and buries her nose in my chest, closing her eyes.
“Mummy? Daddy? It’s getting late o – shebi you’re still going?”
Our eyes open and we look at the grinning elf standing by our feet. My sweetheart – the senior – kneels and kisses my other sweetheart – the junior – on the forehead. “Go on inside baby,” the senior urges. “Go and meet grandma. We’ll be right back.”
Junior nods. “Love you daddy!” and runs inside, shuku flying this way and that. I lean to nuzzle senior’s neck – and at the same time whisper in her ear. “Grandma’s here?”
She nods. “Someone has to babysit na.” She changes the box into her left hand, holds my left in her right one and looks up at me with always-wet eyes. “Shall we?”
“She’s stable now. It was food poisoning – something she ate. We were able to pump her stomach in time, and she’s responding quite well.”
My ex-wife mutters a small prayer of thanks and buries her head in my shoulder, hers moving up and down, response to the sobs shaking them. I hold her gently, saying my own thanks as I put my arms around her. I am grateful my daughter’s fine; grateful I haven’t completely messed things up for us.
“Thank you doctor,” I say.
“Baby…” my ex sighs softly.
Something happens to my belly every time she does that. Every time she calls me that.
“Yes?” I answer, throat all bumpy and rough.
“I’m glad you’re here. I know how busy you are; I understand how much time you have to do the things you have to – especially now with your book out. Thank you.”
I push her away gently, still holding on to her arms and look into her eyes. “She’s my daughter too, which would mean there’s nothing I can do for her that would be too much. You understand?”
She smiles, pushes my hands away and places her head back where it was. “I know. I know. Just – thank you.”
And that’s that.
From the corner of one eye, I see my ex look at me like It’s always you first.
I don’t say anything, the tightness in my chest is reflected in my grip on her hand. I know; I’m probably hurting her – but she doesn’t mind. I couldn’t even let go if wanted to.
And I don’t.
“Hi baby,” I say. At least, that’s what I intend to say but what comes out of my mouth is nothing remotely close to that. The girl on the bed smiles wanly, lifts a hand that has ropes – I mean tubes – attached to it. I don’t know when I start crying – in fact; I don’t realize I am till I taste saltwater.
“Don’t cry daddy,” she says, smiling bravely and struggling to sit up. “I think it was the juice I drank. Ogechi gave me some juice.”
My ex rushes to her side. “Baby, you should lie down – “
She looks at her mother with that eye I assumed before now is reserved for me. “I want to sit up, mummy. I want to be able to look at my parents properly.”
On unsteady legs I walk to the bed, cross to the other side and gently put my hand against her left cheek. It – I mean she’s warm; but it’s a healthy kind of warmth. Her smile remains radiant – even if it’s weak.
“It’s good to see you, Daddy. You and mommy together.”
I try not to look at my ex – instead focusing on the little girl who has been a constant source of joyful torment to me most of her life.
“It’s good to see you too, little girl.”
She frowns. “I’m not so little, daddy. What do you mean?”
I let go of her cheek, leaned back and scratch my beard. “Well I – “
“Are you hungry, darling?”
That was my ex. There was a strange, strained note in her voice…something I couldn’t quite…
At that moment, scales fall from my eyes with the suddenness of NEPA restoring power and I realize; with startling clarity –
My ex is jealous of my relationship with my daughter.
I am so surprised I stumble back a few steps. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
She spends more time with this kid than I spend looking at my reflection. She feeds the kid, dresses her up for school, takes her there most times, brings her back most times, takes her to the hair dresser’s, the tailor’s – takes her to church – everywhere.
Some resentment starts growing in my belly and I frown.
I barely see my daughter twice a month! I’m the absentee father –
You’re the absentee father who’s hardly ever there – and yet the mother literally disappears once you are.
“Daddy – what is it? Are you okay?”
I look at two of the most important women in my life and lie.
“I’m fine. I just need some air.”
And I leave the room before either of them can look surprised.
It’s been twelve minutes.
My left foot taps on the ceramic floor, making a low but distinct kokoko sound. A passing nurse squeezed her face in my direction once.
I looked at her – I mean really looked at her – and she scrambled away.
Yeah. I’m ugly when I smile. You really don’t want to see me frown.
So I’ve been sitting still, thinking about the ladies in the room behind me. Resentment has decided to leave me alone – and in its place now sit understanding and regret.
There’s a swishing sound behind me – and my nose identifies my wife – I mean my ex-wife – before any other parts of me are aware of it. She sits beside me, places her head on my shoulder and sighs softly. Her hair tickles the side of my face – her hand is heavy and warm on my thigh – but everything feels right.
Like finally finding your perfect size of the shoes that caught your eye from the store window – three hours later.
I feel her smile – I see it vividly in front of me even though her face is out of sight. “Hmmm?” she mumbles sleepily.
“I apologize if it seems as if I commandeer all of our daughter’s attention away from you whenever I show up. It’s not like that at all. I cannot compete with you when it comes to taking care of that child – and I’m not even trying to. There’s no point. You’re her mother – and honestly – I couldn’t have gotten a better one for her if I cloned one.”
She turns into my shoulder and pulls my chin down with a gentle hand till I’m looking into a pair of eyes that must have inspired God’s most beautiful night sky. Smiling softly, she begins to speak.
“I know. I know; you don’t intentionally do it – just like you didn’t intentionally leave us alone to grow without you. That’s not to say it didn’t happen – it just wasn’t intentional.”
Her shoulders move up and down and a small whoosh of air leaves her lips – but she doesn’t break eye contact with me. “It’s like that prodigal son story – feeling angry because he was unappreciated when he could have just asked for whatever he wanted. I’m her mother, she loves me and nothing can change that.”
She pauses and then, another soft smile teases her cushy lips. “But you’re her father. And she loves you – which only means she will miss you – and be happy again whenever she sees you. So – it got to me and it still might – but I understand it. And it’s okay.”
Some food I have no memory of eating is suddenly stuck in my throat – and it feels as though I’m looking at her through layers and layers of nylon. I pass my hand over my face and look at it.
It’s wet. With tears.
“Aww baby,” she says, wiping my cheeks with tender fingers. “What is it?”
I take her hand; hold it away from my face. “I…I love you,” I say, after not saying it in a long time. And I have to admit, the look on her face makes it entirely worthwhile.
She doesn’t respond. Not with words anyway.
“Good night,” I say as I lean in slowly to kiss my date on the left cheek.
Crazy girl. Her rings dig in my chest as she puts her hands up, a barrier between me and her. Thinking I had presumed too much, I start to lean away – at the same time mumbling ‘sorry’ – but she pushes her mouth against mine and then, takes her hands away.
Her lips capture mine in a full kiss.
I make a sound deep in my throat – I don’t even know what sound it is; but it is one of excitement. I cup her neck in my hand and meet her eagerly, sighing as she pushes a small and excited probe into my mouth.
Her tongue. Hot and wet.
I push her against the wall and kiss her – as though I want to shrug off eighteen months of celibacy in a moment. She grabs my head and bites my lower lip – and almost in the same move sucks it into her oven of a mouth.
My. Good. Lord.
A miniature earthquake starts in my lower back – starts; and my legs begin to act like I’m riding a really fast okada down a slippery slope. I feel an urgent need to sit down; I feel as though my head, torso and legs are in three different places. I grab her shoulders; I grab and hold onto them for dear life else I slip away in this surreal moment of feeling.
She bites my tongue and unplugs her mouth from mine – and then she kisses me softly. “Good night, hot shot,” she smiles at me with her eyes, presses my hand and turns away into her doorway. I wait till she opens the door and then turn and float towards the exit, lighter than air. I frown at the grinning gateman and step past him – past the gate he is holding open and into the brightly-lit street where the cab that brought me is still waiting. I open the back door – inhale the fresh smell of not-too-long-ago ‘Tokunbo’ vehicle – before I duck inside and sprawl on the back seat.
“Take me home, Sunny.”
The cab starting is the response I get. My muscles – neck and back relax and I try not to think about the pepper-sting in my tongue and how it got there. My lips keep sticking together, and I smirk as I remember what I’d thought about her lipstick first time I saw her mouth that evening.
Whoa. What; there’s no mirror in your house?
Of course, I’d only thought it.
I look out the window as we go, but my mind is far – way far away from the Surulere lights and noise. I think what my little angel would think when I finally introduced them.
It comes to me slowly that she might not be happy as I expect – after all, she still nurses the idea her mum and I would end up together. But she’s also been pestering me to move on.
That does not mean she would like it though.
Some other active part of my mind tells me I haven’t looked at my phone since sometime after two – over eight hours ago. I prompt that part to reach for my phone and look at what I may have missed – while the bulk of the mind continues to think about her.
My little girl.
A hand – mine, actually – holds the phone in front of my face and I realize it’s off. I hold down the power button and I’m rewarded with a tiny vibration. I avert my eyes from the brightness of the screen, looking outside at the hurrying-past scenery while I wait patiently for the tone that announces that I can now use my phone.
It isn’t long in coming.
I flip my thumb across the screen, bypass the screensaver and open the lock screen. I rapidly enter the code, blink and my phone opens.
Almost instantly my hand starts to tremble from multiple vibrations. I look at the notifications icon and see text messages, WhatsApp messages, Twitter messages.
I open the text messages first of all. The bulk of them are from my network service provider – telling me I had several calls from my ex – wife.
Why has she been calling?
The remainder of the texts is from her. I am nervous as I open the first one – and my hand starts to shake as all thoughts of romance are driven from my head with the impact of a Mike Tyson punch.
It isn’t good. Not in the least.
I have to swallow twice before I can tell Sunny; “Eko Hospital, Now!”
The nurse behind the desk looks at me with the expression all goalkeepers have on their faces when Lionel Messi is charging towards them and there’s no defendant in sight.
“Please…where is emergency?” I ask in between gasps.
She points mutely to her left and I continue my charge. At some other time, I would laugh at the way people hurry out of the way at my approach. Some other time.
My eyes dart left and right, scanning and processing faces and bodies as I look for her – the person whose messages had me running to Ikeja at almost midnight…
I slow down as I see her back; standing as she is beside a man who looked like he was consulting an oracle between his feet. I hurry up to her and touch her shoulder lightly, jerking it away as she flinches. “It’s me,” I say softly. “
She turns and falls onto my shoulder, taking in huge draughts of air as tears roll down her face rapidly. I hold her around the shoulders, trying to still the trembling in my stomach and behind my legs. The lump is back in my throat and I have to swallow twice before I can speak.
“Is she…is…” my voice disappears again, and I am just mouthing words. She stays as she is, head on my shoulder, her shaking as though she was cold.
“She’s been vomiting and stooling – and her temperature is fluctuating. One moment she’s incredibly hot, the next she’s really cold. They don’t even know what’s wrong with her!”
The thought creeps up on me unbidden – but I keep a lid on it and hold my ex closer. She wraps her hands around my neck, relaxes against my body and I close my eyes as that familiar sweet-pain reaches out and massages my heart with fiery-hot fingers.
My eyes are closed – but I couldn’t see her any more clearer if they were open.
Warmth from her mouth tickles my ear as she starts to speak. “It’s not Ebola – first thing they asserted. They still don’t know what it is – but at least we know some things it isn’t. But it’s really bad.” She raises her head from my shoulder and I open my eyes to look into her tear-red and terrified ones.
“She’s dying. Our baby is dying.”
Read ‘Daughter Dating Service I’ here.
I swear. Moments like that make me wonder why I quit drinking!
As it was, I pushed the ice cream away, sat there and stared at my daughter. If she had exploded and in her place, Gollum was sitting I wouldn’t have been more amazed. Honestly, if she had brought home Shekarau and told me he was her boyfriend – I couldn’t have been more amazed.
“Baby, that’s not funny. You’re embarrassing your teacher,” I gently chided her.
She looked at me calmly. “Of course I’m not.” And then as cool as Hit Girl under fire she turns to her left and asks Ms. Tinuola “Aunty, are you embarrassed?”
Ms. Tinuola smiled. “Of course not, darling. Your father is a very attractive man and I would like to be his girlfriend.”
My little girl looked at me. And I thought you knew everything; her eyes seemed to say. “I want to use the rest room,” she said.
I stood up quickly – maybe too quickly. “Okay, let me – “
But the little horror I had somehow mistaken for my daughter ignored me completely and walked to the security guard. “Excuse me sir, could you please take me to the rest room? My daddy and mother just found each other again and they have so much to talk about,” she said loudly.
Oh. My. God.
Did I actually father this child or was she built in a test tube in one secret facility and passed off as mine? Slowly I sank into my chair as my legs refused to support me any longer, aware of the smiling patrons and blushing girls. I gripped the serviette in shaking hands and watched her and the grinning security guard went around the corner. And then my confusion slowly turned to something else – something white hot that threatened to choke me if I did not spit it out or punch something.
How dare her – !
“She talks about you all the time.”
The voice sounded far away – sounded like it was coming down a long tunnel or like it does when the network’s poor. My hand trembled and I looked at it strangely – it felt as though it was not a part of me. It was holding the serviette, shaking in fury and I told it to let go. Slowly, ever so slowly I got through to it. My fingers unclasped and the sudden rush of blood into them made my hand tingle.
My palm was red.
“Excuse me?” I said to the suddenly-very-ugly woman sitting across from me. She smiled and looked like Patience Okafor playing witch. I grimaced and turned my face slightly to the side.
“Your daughter. She talks about you all the time.”
I was intrigued in spite of myself. “She does?”
Ms. Tinuola pushed the plate in front of her off to one side and leaned towards me. “That’s the first thing we have in common,” she said. “Love for that angel.”
Angel? Have in common?
Wait first. You and who?!
I leaned away and reconsidered my stance concerning staying for the sake of my little girl. Speaking of which –
“Excuse me,” I said to the teacher and darted away from the table. As I neared the stairway, raking my fingers through my fresh-cut hair I heard her voice. “…so I decided to bring her to meet him so they can talk and go home together.”
“There’s no ‘going home together’. I don’t take strange women home.” I interrupted, nodding at the smiling security guy with relief and grabbing her hand. “Who is the person filling your head with all these things?”
“Is that not what people do when they like each other – follow themselves up and down and everywhere?”
I thumped her lightly on the behind. “No! People have work to do and things to take care of. How am I supposed to make money if all I do is follow somebody around all day?”
“Money must really be important to you daddy,” she says in her little girl whisper.
I was flummoxed. And ashamed.
She pulled her hand away from my unresisting one and sat herself on her stool, looking as though there was nothing wrong. Slowly, I made my way back to my seat, sat down and looked everywhere but at her.
‘Is everything alright?”
I was suddenly weary of everything, particularly Ms. Tinuola. “Look, I want to thank you for looking after her and being so kind enough to come here Ms. – “
“Tinu. You can just call me Tinu,” she interrupted me.
“Ms.” I reiterated firmly. “If you don’t mind, I would like to spend some time with my daughter. Alone.”
“But daddy – she is your soul mate!”
Oh. My. God. Soul mate?!
Ms. Tinuola was glaring at me as though I just set her Brazilian weave ablaze. She stood up in a huff, thighs knocking the table backwards. I had to move quickly to catch the ice cream cup before it spilled all over me.
“What – “ I began.
“This is clearly not going to work. Thank you – but consider yourself dumped!” She whirled around and stomped out of there, once again making me and my girl the cynosure of all eyes within a 50-meter radius.
I sighed and buried my head on my arms. That was one crazy woman.
“Daddy, are you okay?”
Her voice came from beside me.
I looked up and at her; this test-tube product who was me raised to power 100. There was a small crease in between her eyes; a depression that told me she was worried. I swallowed all the angry words I intended to say, put my hand softly on her head and said; “I’m okay, baby. What was that about?”
Very primly, looking like that kid who touched President Obama’s head that one time, she held the hand I’d placed on her head, lifted herself into my lap and replaced the hand. “Don’t you like women anymore?”
Here we go.
“I’ve told you – “
“You’re still not happy. Grandma’s gone and there’s no one to take care of you. Mummy’s getting married again soon – what’s going to happen to you?”
And just like that, all my arguments flew out the window. I looked at the little girl on my knee and years of excuses and half-truths stared me in the face. I had failed her, failed her more times than any man had the right to fail any woman – not to talk of a man in my position to a woman in hers.
“Is your mother at home?” I asked, my voice sounding gravelly with all the roughness of emotion it was carrying.
“She said she wasn’t going out – that she wanted to be home when you brought me back.”
I cocked my head. “You mean when you come home?”
She smiled mischievously and stroked my beard. “No, she said ‘I want to be home when daddy brings you back’.”
Am I being scammed again?
I inhaled deeply. “Okay. Let’s go see your mother.”
I gathered her in my arms and stood up. She put small arms around my neck and nuzzled my neck.
“I love you, daddy.”
I started to respond. “I love – “ but she didn’t allow me finish. “Daddy, Ms. Tinuola looked pretty shebi?”
Wisely, I choose not to answer. But she did not give up.
“It is possible for someone to have two soul mates at once is it not?”
“You know, I think it’s about time we changed your school.”
She chuckled and kissed my cheek. “I love you daddy!”
I grinned in her face. “Bribe?” I asked.
Shaking her head slowly, she became serious. “Truth.”
“In that case…”
“But daddy, are we not watching X-Men again?”
I stopped and held her in front of my face, my arms screaming in pain. “What do you want – for me to go see your mother now or for us to watch – ”
“Daddy, let’s go home. Now.”
And so we went.