David was amused at Tina’s enthusiasm. She looked more excited than their daughter. Daisy was graduating from PP1 to PP2 grade and had worn a small black graduation gown like her other thirty classmates.
“Those are enough photos dear,”David said.
“Just one more, this time a selfie, just one?” Tina pleaded as Daisy and her dad reluctantly agreed.The selfie showed two bored faces and a very bright face.
“You guys are too bored, let us make another one, a more lively one!” Tina said.
“No!” Father and daughter whined. “Sweatheart, we better ran away from this camera addict!” David said and grabbed his charged daughter as they ran away from Tina who took off her stilettos in pursuit of her husband and daughter. The more Tina closed the gap between them, the more Daisy pierced the air with high pitched screeches kicking her legs in a frenzy. They made it to the parking lot as she rained blows on her father to open the car door quickly before her mum caught them.
Tina slowed down when she realized she had attracted enough attention from other parents,children and teachers from Daisy’s school. She however did not wipe the grin on her face. Long disapproving stares could not lower her high spirits. Her baby had made it through her second year in school.
” Wait till we get home, I will catch you and tickle you till you pee on yourself!” Tina told Daisy as she got in the car. Daisy laughed exhilaratedly. Then Tina’s phone buzzed.
“Shhh, Uncle Babu is calling! ” Tina said.
“Really?” I want to talk to him!” Daisy said. She loved her mother’s uncle. He played with her whenever he visited and told her interesting stories. She also would insist on watching her parents’ wedding video, especially that part Uncle Babu (as she fondly called him)was dancing.
“Uncle Babu , dance like you did in mummy’s wedding!” She would ask, and he would dance and Daisy would laugh so hard.
Being Daisy’s graduation day, Tina thought that he was calling to congratulate his grand-niece for finishing her 2nd Preparatory year successfully. She gave Daisy her phone to answer it.
“Hallo! Uncle Babu!” The gleeful Daisy answered. The two chatted but not for long as they always did. She gave her phone to her mother, but made a surprising remark.
“Uncle Babu seems to be crying!” David threw a quick glance to his wife as he drove them home. Tina picked the phone and listened to her uncle.
” Hello, Uncle?” She said and stared at David in shock as her uncle , with a sorrowful tearful voice told her of his son’s death. Tina’s heart was broken. Her uncle was so proud of his son and now death had cruelly taken him through a road accident. The journey back home became quiet and pensive.
“My uncle needs me right now. He supported me at my lowest time, it’s my turn now.” She said somberly.
” I can take a few weeks off at work and accompany you. Besides, schools have closed so we don’t have to worry about Daisy.” David said provoking an embrace from his wife.
“Thank you honey!” She said. They planned to leave the next day.
The journey to her home village awoke memories. The last time they had driven home was four years ago. It was a bitter memory. After that trip, both David and Tina had been warned never to set foot in that compound again. As long as her parents knew, she was dead to them. David looked back at his sleeping daughter and a sinking feeling filled him.
” Tina, what if your father displays his outdated tribal animosity towards Daisy?” He asked .
” We will just stay far from him. Uncle’s house is a bit far from my parents’ house so they will not have to meet. We will just be more watchful on the funeral day. ”
David was satisfied with her answer. He however was sympathetic towards his wife. She had never spoken to her parents for four years. She had tried to reach out to her parents with persistent phone calls but none was received.She still had hope that her uncle’s words would come true one day but he greatly doubted. He was uncertain that they would accept him as his son in law. Unless he changed his tribe. He laughed at the impossibility.
When they arrived, her uncle managed to smile upon seeing his favourite niece and her family. Her parents did not come to see them despite getting news of their arrival. They also apologized for their absence in the subsequent mourning days of their nephew. But Uncle had had enough of their primitive attitude.
“I am tired of your parents ,Tina. Even for my son, they choose not to come because of their fossilized mentality ? No! That is rubbish! I am going to my brother’s house to tell him that I have had enough of him and his wife! Whose death are they waiting for so that they can wake up from the foolish tribalism? Isn’t my son’s death an awakening call for them to love whilst we live for death comes uncalled? NO!”
He left in haste. None of them noticed that a curious Daisy had followed her uncle. He noticed when it was too late. He had already knocked on the door and Tina’s father had already opened it. Tina’s father stared at the little girl fixatedly. She smiled at the old man and extended her hand to him.
“Hi,My name is Daisy, what’s your name?” She was as talkative as the mother. Her uncle mused. Tina’s mother came to the door and saw her too.
“Hi,is this your house?” She directed the question to her mother’s mother. Anna was crying. She hugged the brave girl so tightly that Daisy pushed her off in amazement.
“Hey, you are so loving. Do you hug your children this strongly?” Daisy asked causing her uncle to burst into laughter. Her grandpa squatted in front of his grand daughter. He stared at her long hair, her eyes and cheeks.
“You look so much like your mum. So beautiful!” He said, a tear dropping from his eye.
“Really? You know my mum?” Daisy asked excitedly.
“Yes, come in and see how much we know her. ” Her grandfather said leading her inside the house, his wife and brother following. He took a big album from a top shelf and asked her to sit next to him. Uncle Babu watched as his dream came true. The little angel had broken the tribal chains.
“Really? Is this mum going to school? ” She pointed at one image and asked, her eyes wide open. Her grandfather would nod as she marvelled and chuckled.Her grandmother looked on, a wide beam painted on her face.
Hours later, Daisy’s parents were searching for their daughter. Tina called her uncle. Had he seen Daisy? He cooled their anxiety. He was with her. They were on their way back. But Daisy would have none of it. She did not want to leave her new friends . Tina’s dad made a shocking move.
“We will all take you to mum and dad,how about that?” He asked Daisy and she was elated.
Tina was the first to see her parents approaching, Daisy holding both their hands, he called out to David who upon seeing the three let out a loud gasp. They came closer, Tina and David’s hearts pounded. Then finally, Tina’s dad spoke.
“Never in my life have I ever thought that the face of a small child can move me to tears. Yet today I have. I deeply regret not meeting her earlier…I…I am so sorry. I have lost so much time…I…” He bent his head unable to speak further.
“Say no more dad! I forgive you. Let us start afresh.” Tina said and she embraced her father and mother . David looked on but his father-in-law gestured him to join in the group hug. Daisy and her grand-uncle looked on smiling.
The funeral day was a day of mixed emotions. Tina send off her cousin in grief but at the same time, there was also a feeling of joy for her. She and David were grateful for their old folks’ end of bias towards him. They had forgiven them for the hurt they had caused. As for Daisy, she would not leave her grandparents’ side. It was as if she had forgotten she had parents.
She threw tantrums when it was time to leave. It was only until her grandfather came, quietened her down and whispered something in her ear that she agreed to leave with her parents.
“Promise?” She had asked him.
“I promise you my angel.” Her grandfather said.
They drove on quietly until she broke the silence.
“Mummy, daddy, do you know what grandpa whispered to me?” She asked. Her parents shook their heads and asked what he had said.
“He said he and grandma will be visiting me every fortnight and they will be bringing me a lot of presents!” She said proudly as her parents laughed. Tina sighed with relief. David was happier. He felt as if a big burden had been lifted off his shoulders. He understood why people called children, little angels.