This one is for Funminiyi who recently became a dad…again. This time to a little girl…
We writers make such great parents because we know that just like the characters in our story, our babies must find their own path. Yes, we will set good examples, yes we will advise them, yes we will escort them through most of life with our good wishes and intentions, but in the end, it is out of our hands…
For little Damisi…you shine already; ‘that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
The day we brought her home is a day I will never forget. It had rained earlier in the day and driving was hard to do. I remember Etop’s hands as they clenched tightly on the steering wheel, how he winced and tried not to swear every time a recalcitrant Lagos driver misbehaved, how he exhaled sharply once we were safely cocooned with our gates…
That night while she slept, we stayed awake, the both of us.
‘You have work tomorrow’ I said.
‘You are a recovering new mom’ he argued.
We traded excuses on each others’ behalf but neither of us succeeded in convincing the other to succumb to slumber.
We decided on a truce and watched her together, like human guardian angels bereft of flaming swords but equiped with love. We watched over her like hawks and when dawn came and she opened her eyes, we rejoiced. She had survived her first night with us as her keepers. There was no wine so we toasted with our kisses to the next eighteen years of keeping her safe.
It has been 13 years since she was 18. 10 years since she moved out of the home we had built to keep her safe. 2 hours since the priest encouraged her to cleave to another and leave her mother and father.
2 hours that seem like eternity.
They tell us we have not lost a daughter but have gained a son. We smile on the outside, I and Etop, but on the insides, it is a different story all together. We mourn the loss of the best job we have ever had.
I watch as Etop makes his way to the dancefloor for the father-daughter dance. After 35 years, reading my husband’s mind is the easiest thing. So I know that he is thinking is exactly what I am thinking.
About that first night we brought her home. About how we had watched with bated breaths as she took her first steps. About her first day at kindergarten. About the first time we punished her and how when we were done with our stern masks, we had broken down in tears behind the closed doors of our bedroom for fear that she would stop loving us. About how that helpless infant we brought home that first night had turned into this courageous woman in white.
She misses a step in the dance but Etop deftly makes up for it so that no one except the three of us notices. They smile at each other, this man and woman I love more than anything in the world and pride fills my heart. I catch Etop’s eye and wink. He winks back.
35 years also means I can translate winks to words.
‘We did good Amope’ He winks ‘We did real good.’
I nod in agreement to words only I hear. Soon it is my turn to dance in his arms. We dance silently because joy is a beautiful woman in white and even though she will be taking her leave of us today, there will be enough of her in our hearts to last the rest of our lives.
We are counting the days till she comes home for Christmas.
Song of the day: Sam Smith- Leave Your Lover