Mummy announced that Daddy would be coming back home at last! She said the doctors informed her he was now well enough to leave the hospital. I was so happy that I started to jump up and down. I wanted to hurry over to tell Tayo and Buki that our Daddy was coming back home finally. I was sure they too would be happy for me and my sister. There were so many things I intended to tell Daddy as soon as he arrived home. I also hoped to show him my recent discovery – the new banana sprout growing at the far end of the wall inside our compound beside the guava and orange trees. Daddy would help me to catch one of the brightly coloured canaries that used to come and make so much noise on the mango tree early in the morning. I would then put it inside a cage and show it to Tayo and Buki.
“Rose, you will help me to tidy the whole house and prepare pounded yam with ogbono soup,” Mummy said to Auntie Rose.
Auntie Rose said she would do just as Mummy had instructed her.
“And don’t forget to make sure the children take their bath before we return,” Mummy added.
“I won’t forget, Aunty,” she replied.
True to Mummy’s word, they arrived with our Daddy later in the afternoon. Daddy wore a big, dark eyeglass. It looked nice on him; it made him resembled an actor. Tayo’s Daddy and Mummy and everybody in their house came to welcome our Daddy. I was so happy that I felt as if something was tickling me inside my tummy. I hugged our Daddy and he lifted me carefully into the air then put me down again. He did same to Oyigwe too. He was just smiling because he was happy. He said, “I missed all of you so much.”
“We missed you too, Daddy,” we told him.
Mr. Salami shook hands with him and said, “You’re welcome back home. We are all happy to have you back in our midst.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Salami,” Daddy replied, “Thank you for all your concern and how you and your family stood by us through the trying times.”
Other neighbours who heard that our Daddy was back from the hospital came in to say welcome to him. They were all talking happily and saying, “Praise God,” at intervals.
I wanted all these people to finish greeting our Daddy and go away, to leave us alone so I could show him around the house and then ask him to tell me whether he liked the room they gave him while he was in the hospital. But it seemed Daddy was happy to be talking and smiling with them. Mummy said Oyigwe should go and assist Auntie Rose to pass drinks and snacks round to the visitors. Tayo and his sister came over to where I was seated.
“See how you are happy now?” Tayo said and winked at me.
“Did you see my Daddy’s new eyeglasses?” I asked him.
“He is wearing it so that Sun will not enter his eyes,” Buki said to us. “Our PE teacher use to wear something like that too.”
“Our Daddy’s eyeglass is not as dark as this one your Daddy is wearing. But it’s very fine too,” Tayo said to me.
“Our Daddy has more than one eyeglass in his cupboard.” Buki remarked.
“It’s the truth. She’s not lying,” Tayo said and gestured with his hand.
Finally, the visitors started to leave one after the other just as they had come. Soon everyone had left and we were alone with our Daddy at last. He said I should come over and sit on his lap. I hurried over to him. He patted me on the head and said he observed I’ve grown taller so quickly.
“What have they been feeding you with while I was away?” he asked and laughed.
“Auntie Rose has been cooking jollof rice and fried fish for us,” I told him.
“Isn’t that very nice of her?” Daddy said to me, “I hope you remembered to tell her thank you?”
“But she use to spank us on the head too,” I said.
Our Daddy laughed. He said maybe we didn’t behave properly that was why she spanked us.
Mummy came in and asked our Daddy whether she should bring some food for him now. He said, “Please do, my dear. I can hardly wait to taste homemade food again.”
“Why did they give you this eyeglass from the hospital?” I asked.
“It is because my eyes have not healed completely yet. I can’t see anything with them presently,” Daddy replied.
I didn’t understand what our Daddy meant that he couldn’t see with his eyes. “Why didn’t you tell the doctors to give you the one that would make you see?” I asked him.
“It’s not about the eyeglass, my dear,” Daddy said and smiled at me, “The problem is with my eyes. The doctors said the accident affected something inside.”
I didn’t want to believe our Daddy. “Let me see your eyes then?” I said to him.
Daddy removed his eyeglass carefully and showed me his face. There was a scar mark just above his left brow. There was another one close to his ear. Though his eyes were open, it was as if he wasn’t looking at me. I wiggled my fingers in front of his face. “Can you see me?” I asked him.
“No. I can only see shadows,” he replied and squinted.
My heart sank. It meant I won’t be able to show him the banana sprout or those canaries as I had planned. Also he won’t be able to play football with me on the veranda or on the green grass in front of our house again.