When I wrote a letter to my daughter, she didn’t have a name but in this dream she is called Daria. I don’t know why it sounds Islamic maybe because it’s a dream, and dreams are weird. In this dream it is seventeen minutes past 8 on a beautiful Saturday morning, the kind of beautiful when the sun is shining with some serenity, you want to spend all day home in shorts with your daughter, smell the roses in your flower garden and talk about boys in her school, which one she thinks is a lesser idiot…but you have to go to the office…even in a dream tsk!
We are seated at the dining table, sweet and beautiful Daria, the house help and I having cereal and coffee. Am pouring more coffee from the mug, when she breaks the silence;
Where is mum dad?
The help looks at me and reads desperation in my face. How do I tell her that her mum tripped in the bathroom eight years ago when she was three weeks due with her and hit her head on the hard floor, and I wasn’t there to rush her to hospital until it was too late. This is the third time she is asking. The last time she was six. I promised to buy her Lebanese candy and talked her out of it. Now she is eight with a small behind. The help who has now left the table calls out;
C’mon Dari your yoga session starts in three
A help who also happens to be her yoga instructor. This only happens in dreamland.
Go upstairs and change pumpkin you don’t want to be late.
She is a smart kid and by now she knows every time I call her pumpkin and not sweetie I cannot be trusted. Am even thinking she knew I faked the smile.
That can wait dad
I read resilience in her voice and I know this time I am not getting away with it. What has the neighbour’s son been teaching her…or maybe she is growing a pair and I haven’t been paying attention; maybe soon she will start playing soccer with boys, climbing heights, prefer a Mohawk to a ponytail, take two stairs at each step and maybe grow a goatee in between. Should I get her a rabbit for her birthday?
This is the point you prefer a son to her. A son with a boring name like Sam, and he doesn’t give a single shit about it, he doesn’t even care about the shape of his head or where his hair starts on his scalp…things Daria would spend seven lifetimes whining about, someone with lesser emotions, someone you can tell boys don’t cry, someone I don’t have to hug after the sad story and promise him Tibetan ice cream, someone who will pat my back and tell me “that’s life” then order a double scotch for the old man. As young as at 8.
In this dream I wish I was standing on top of the railings of some bridge miles away from Daria, looking down at a big lake contemplating suicide, these are the times you wish you choked on toothpaste last night as you brushed your teeth, and you wake up in a hospital somewhere in the middle of the Kalahari, in another version of reality, where Dari is old enough to understand she will never get to see her mum.
She is in tears now. Maybe she has been reading books where couples disagree and she thinks we disagreed and I divorced her mother, it’s even worse if those books included instances of violence.
The help who has now stopped climbing upstairs is also almost in tears, she has no name in this dream but we can’t call her a village name like Ciku or Nyoks, Dari doesn’t even call her auntie like those of us who had the privilege to have someone clean their underpants till they joined college used to call them. She has a sales day job and attends a HR evening class, at first she was Dari’s babysitter, then she started doing more chores in the house to increase her wage, to supplement her college fees and help with her mum’s hospital bill. Life is unfair right? No this is just a dream. I also wish I would wake up already, but I can’t because it is a dream, and if we could control dreams, we would all dream playing golf in the beautiful lawns of heaven with our celebrity crushes then catching up later in the evening at a coffee house. All on Jesus.
She works out and has yoga sessions with Dari on Saturdays, so let’s call her Kate or Christine. No let’s go with Christine, all the Kates I know cannot sit with their legs crossed, let alone meditate. So Christine who I have never seen without lipstick; walks back to the dining table kisses Dari’s forehead and helps her up as she wipes away her tears…do you see why we couldn’t call her Kui?
She will not talk to me in the next three days or more, I will miss her goodnight kisses and those beautiful moments she tells me “I love you dad” when I drop her off to school, she will prefer sitting at the back of the car and every time I look at the rear mirror she will look at me with squinting eyes and put on a face like that emoji that has a red face and bulging cheeks “will you just drive!” and maybe she will include an offensive word, she heard the last time she went swimming.
Sam would sulk but still sit in the front seat, put on the car music system and play music from his favourite band or tune into a morning radio show, unfortunately there are none for kids, but again this is a weird dream. Let’s assume there is one where they talk about blueband and the Ten Commandments. So he would forget he was angry at me and start a conversation;
That presenter was wrong about the eighth commandment
What did he say?
That we should not covet our neighbours’ property
…and what does the eighth commandment state
Do not steal
Isn’t that the same thing?
No that is the tenth one
Maybe he thought they mean the same
And you thought the same too?
Yes we adults tend to think the eighth and tenth commandments are the same?
Because you adults skipped third grade
That’s harsh Sam.
Then he would remember we were not in good terms, change the frequency, adjust the volume then struggle with the lyrics of a boring love song. He would wish me a good day before I drop him off then ask me to say hi to my beautiful secretary. I noticed him stare at her behind the last time he came to my office.
I have fifteen minutes to get to the office but I am still staring at the napkin on my laps, trying to figure out what I will do to make up to Dari, but this dream like every other has no solution. I am thinking I should take a day off and take Dari to her mother’s grave, place a wreath at the foot of her tombstone then walk a few yards away and leave Dari for a few minutes, but this doesn’t seem to add up, it is quite early for her to know that her mother left us and she will never see her again, I don’t think she can handle it.
I can’t think of anything else, maybe it is because I am asleep, and my brain is asleep too.
I wake up before I jump off from those railings or choke on tooth paste, before I see Christine without lipstick, before Sam stops listening to that kid’s radio show, before I date my beautiful secretary, and before Dari grows up, knows about her mother and visits her grave on every anniversary. I wanted to see her join the high school musical, graduate from law school, get engaged, get to see her children grow unlike her mum and visit me in my seventies before I leave her too.
Maybe I will dream again.
Peace and love.