The phone rings. I have been staring at it for the past two hours, willing it to ring. I called but her phone rang endlessly and i knew it meant she got stuck in the land of her dreams where even I am barred from entering. So I have waited, counting the seconds, then the minutes, and then the hours till she stretches upon our huge bed and reaches for the phone to reignite my life.
She never fails. 1am every day…I have come to live for that hour. 23 hours pale and all the madness of the world is made sane when her voice comes on over the phone at 1am. Today, the phone didn’t ring until 3am.
I am jolted out of my reverie as my voicemail picks up. I pick up.
“Obim” she says like she said yesterday, like she will say tomorrow.
“Hey” I answer as I let my mind wander to another time, another place, to her life.
“What happened? I was scared stiff with worry when you didn’t call at 1am like you always do”. I say
“Sorry” she answers with a tone that lets me know she is anything but sorry
‘What time is it’ I ask her.
“You know what time it is. Why are you asking me?”
I feel her frustration because it is mine as well. I wait for the flood that is threatening. It won’t be much longer.
I hear her breathe in deeply.
“I am sorry she says. I had to take Ego to the hospital. She was sick in the evening and we got home late. I hate it that you are not here. She is growing up and you are missing it. My breasts ache because she won’t drink my milk anymore. She cries a lot and won’t let anyone help me with her. Do you know the only thing that is sure to make her smile? When I stand before the mantel that has your picture and point at Daddy. She is crawling and I am afraid someday when I am not concentrating she will crawl away from my life. I am afraid, Obi.’
I let her cry a while.
“What time is it?” I ask her again. I need to hear her say it. I don’t know why. I am aware of the exact hours between us but all of it is unreal till she says it. Until she says it, I am helpless, lost in time, lost I translation…
“8am” she answers. For the first time since she was born, I have missed my daughter’s 6am feeding.
“How much longer till you are home?” she asks with a solemnity that should only be reserved for prayers.
“Not much longer now.” I reply with a certainty that only God should possess.
“Where are you?” I ask.
“On the balcony”
“Describe it to me.”
She knows I mean the sunrise. So she does. I fall asleep to the sounds she makes as she paints bold pictures of the sunrise that was once mine and that I fear I have lost forever.
When I wake up, its 7am and it is a different sunrise. The message alert on my phone is blinking. I pick it up and there is a photo of my girls, on the balcony backing the sunrise. Their smiles defeat time zones and distance. There is a mesage attached to it.
“The sun rises for us wherever you are. I will call you up for the 6am feeding…”
Song of the day: Westlife – Close