A day like this, slightly over ten years ago, a baby kicked her legs in the air when she escaped her mother’s vagina and let out a shriek. Not the kind of shrilly cry that irritates, but one that brought joy because it was a sign of life, brought into a world, a terrible world.
She had no idea where she’d come into. If only she’d known what awaited her she would have turned back and returned into her mother’s womb. I was not around to watch her tiny fists battle the air. I was away, tucked under a blanket because it was at four in the morning, and I was in high school. In fact, I had no idea she was on the way. I was the most clueless, dead beat father of our time, worried about other things important than Alexa’s pregnancy.
When she was being swaddled in a lesso and being handed over to her sweaty, tired mother, I was turning comfortably in my spring bed and having dreams that only people who have gone to heaven dream of. Dreams of possibilities. Dreams of white angels, with flawless white robes, donned in heavenly regalia, with long, soft and shiny hair, singing with mellow voices. Dreams of human beings sitting next to wild animals and the animals playfully interacting with human beings with zero animosity.
Then Moi banged on the door. He was this small guy in his 40s, with a voice of a young virgin who is excited about getting laid for the first time. No one liked Moi. He was the second bell, he ensured that everyone in the Western Wing woke up and attended morning preps. He would then lock the dorms. If he locked it while you were inside, then you were in trouble.
Everyone loathed Moi, this janitor who had dedicated his life into pushing other men to study. I wonder why he was pushing men into what they’d come to do willingly. He was getting into our business and we didn’t like it. Some of the students had tried to punch the lights out of him. One had actually beaten him so badly and almost burst his skull. The student spent a few months in jail.
The incident didn’t deter Moi from coming back. I hated him with passion. Being quick to anger, I often wanted to avoid any confrontation with him. I was sure I could dismember him and make him never come back to this job again.
I woke up, rushed to the ablution block for a shower and later on headed to classroom 2E, to have my morning nap. It was the best slumber any student could enjoy. It lasted a few minutes but it brought the sweetest feeling. I could pull my sweater over my head and lay my head on the arms spread out beautifully on the desk.
That was the day when she first met with this cruel world. While I was thawing away at the ferocious life of school, Elsie was figuring out her new environment. She wasn’t worried about where I was at the time. I guess that was a breather for me…
Three years later, I pulled a grey suit from the closet. I lay it on bed and ran my fingers along its fabric. It was a big day. Not for more, but for Elsie. She was going to kindergarten. I therefore needed to be in my best because this was her big day. I wanted to be there during her big days, to share them with her.
After a shower Alexa helped me dress. I didn’t want other kids to think of me as a retard or as an asshole. I wanted them to know Elsie’s dad was a smart man, with a real beard, tall and fairly ugly; which is what a man should be. Kids can make other kids’ lives so terrible that it begins to erode their self esteem at a young age. When kids grow like this from a young age, they never grow up to be strong-willed people. They will always be people who think of themselves as lowly and not enough to be recognized in society as someone. They therefore put other people’s happiness in front and they come second.
As a father I have learnt many things about growing up. I take some of the lessons from the life I grew up in and the lives of those who were around me. I often observe Elsie’s behaviour when I am around. I like it when she acts tough and badass. I love it when she comes home and tells me she kicked some boy’s ass. It shows that she can defend herself, that she can stand up for herself, against bullies and other kids who want to mangle her and tell her that she’s not enough.
We then drove to Hope Montessori Nursery School which is at Marylebone, 1.3 miles from Paddington. I sat at the back with Elsie. She was paranoid as shit. I could see her fingers shake. The way she twiddled her thumbs vigorously told me she was extremely nervous. So I tried to talk to her because she wasn’t saying anything to any of us. Maybe she was unwelcome to the idea because I don’t remember us asking her if she wanted to start schooling.
‘Are you okay sweetie?’ I asked with a voice of concern. I ran my hand on her hair and then pulled myself closer. She didn’t say a thing so I imagined she was having it rough already. She was scared of the idea that she was going to be abandoned in a new establishment, with people she didn’t know for more than five hours.
It was only a three minutes drive to the nursery, a small window for her to relax her mind. We sat in the car in the parking lot for twenty minutes trying to encourage her. She didn’t want to disembark from the car. I think that was one of the hardest moments of parenting ever. For the first time in my life I didn’t know what to say.
I looked over to Alexa who looked at me with disappointment. I knew she wanted me to handle the situation as I seemed more close to Elsie than she was. She’s always felt that I should handle more in Elsie’s life than I am currently because she does everything else, housing her, paying the school fees, taking care of her and all that. So when I fail in a small task, in her eyes I fail entirely.
Twenty minutes passed, and twenty more. Outside, there were two tutors who were waiting to welcome us. They tried to use their charm on Elsie but it didn’t work. So I asked them to give her time.
I think Elsie sensed that we weren’t going to give up. After another half an hour, she made up her mind and led the way. Alexa and I were astounded. We looked at each other and smiled.
‘There you go! That’s my girl!’ I said to myself. Of course I was proud of her. Elsie was making decisions, not dicey decisions but the right decisions. That was a good start to a life.
Then my phone rang. I knew it was bad news. I hadn’t gone to the UK just to see Elsie go to school or even visit them. My boss had sent me there for an assignment and the three of us used the chance to do this together. One day I’ll tell you what this ‘assignment’ means. It is a bad assignment. And sometimes it can involve blood and guns, and running and fear, and breaking into buildings and stealing and running, and jumping out of buildings, and sometimes dressing like a madman or a woman or someone else. I guess you get the idea of what ‘assignment’ means.
When that phone rings, I feel my stomach twitch. My heart moves into my throat. My mind starts listening to my heartbeat. The phone call has the capability of sending me to my death. If not that, a terrible injury. The fact that I am alive and well shows how fast I run, how good a sleuth I have become and how careful I do manage to do my work.
I hated the idea that it could come at the moment when my daughter was having a life changing moment. First time to everything is always a life changing moment. It sticks in your memory forever. If your parents fuck it up you’ll never forgive them for ruining it. And I didn’t want Elsie to hate me… she does anyway, but not because I ruined her day.
I picked the phone a few metres away from the school block. I was needed urgently. The phone instructed me to drop everything I was doing and head to Wessex to help a buddy because he was in huuuge trouble.
There was no time to ask what trouble he was in. I knew it was deep shiet… deeeep. I had a choice to catch a train right away and head to Wessex or just stay and see my Elsie attend her first class. I wanted to see her reaction once we left… that would be planted in my memory. So I decided to stay. Wessex could fuck itself. Family first, right?
Just like that, I ruined Elsie’s day. There’s no postponing assignments. One second of delay can bring untold misery. I jumped into a train. It took me exactly one and three-quarter hours to get to Wessex. There is no need for details. But my buddy lost his spinal cord that day. He has become a friend of the wheelchair since then.
The reason why I am writing this is because my daughter called me the other day. I haven’t seen her this year and it is unnerving her. Since the year started we have only talked thrice because I have been in a very delicate state of mind where I don’t want to think or talk to people. I sleep, eat, sit and sometimes call people, people I have to sell laptops and other electronics to. I still love the smell of money. But I have lost the strength to chat with people.
When I am free, I spend my time playing fifa 19, or watching movies. I throw my phone to the farthest place possible. Sometimes I don’t charge it. I no longer buy data bundles.
Heck, I even don’t have energy to talk to Elsie. When she called I was ashamed when she asked why I haven’t called in days. Her face was sad and worried. Then she asked the most bewildering of questions.
‘Don’t you love me anymore?’
My face betrayed me. Since I hadn’t expected such a question, I literal froze before making faces. The question terrified me. I was out of words.
Later on I found weak reasons why I hadn’t called. I also reassured her that she’s the only person that I love, the only reason I live.
It didn’t go down quite well when I thought she was letting me off the hook. She asked me what I’ll get her for her birthday. I knew my bank account was reading only a few digits. So I told her I’ll surprise her.
Yesterday was the last day for me to prepare what to get her. So I went to the internet because Mr Google happens to be the encyclopedia that has all answers. I keyed in ‘birthday gifts for eleven year old girls in UK.’
I opened the top two searches and looked at things I think she can like. Then I got this marvelous website where they do personalized gifts. I settled on a rainbow cake and AQUA BLUETOOTH SPEAKER – WATER DANCING! because she darn loves music. I wanted to choose more but my money couldn’t allow it. This amounted around 6k. I had saved that money to buy myself a nice suit for my birthday which is in May but I guess it found use quite early.
The items will be delivered to their door, with her name fully inscribed on them. I know she’ll be swept off her feet. She will forgive me for being silent. She will love me. I know she will call me and praise me and tell me sweet things… women!
She will be grinning all over the screen. Her teeth will be smiling at me all the time. She will say things that warm my heart. Things that will make me sleep better for months. Things that will help me forget my unwarranted worries. Things that will add pep in my step. And every time I’ll be alone I’ll remember her smile and words and smile.
And I’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my girl!’
Thanks for passing by. I have not quite got my grip yet. I am rusty and I am forcing myself to write because this is my birthright. When everything else falls apart, my words will be here with me. My only true friends, and weapons.
Also, I am not a good editor. The editor that used to help me in this sector is no longer helping me. So I am in need of someone, with keen eye on errors, someone with a rich mind, someone who can travel with me into my mind and see things they way I have seen them and project them in the best voice possible. Write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Therefore, cut me some slack on the same while I get my juices back. Remember to leave a brief comment. Share as well because one day you might impact someone’s life by doing so. Humans for humanity, yeah? Yes.
Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?