It was already gone past our normal bedtime hour, and we were still at the Salamis’ house; our Mummy and Daddy haven’t returned from the hospital. I was beginning to get worried and restless. Tears were gathering in my eyes. I supposed Oyigwe must be feeling the same way too; she was very quiet, and she kept fiddling with something she held in her hands. I’ve never missed my parents so much like now. This was the first time we were to sleep in some other person’s house. I felt helpless and confused.
Oyigwe whispered to me that we should tell the Mrs. Salami we wanted to go back home. But Mrs. Salami said we could not. She said we were too young to be left all alone to ourselves in our house. She said if our parents didn’t come back, then we would have to sleep over at their house till the next morning. I didn’t want to sleep in their house. I preferred to be in our house. I wished we could go home so I would sleep in my bed. I missed my bed too.
Soon, the big wooden grandfather clock on the wall above their TV started to sound loudly. I listened thoughtfully and counted in my mind as the clock sounded nine times. It meant that the time was nine o’clock already. In our house we usually go to bed at eight o’clock every night.
Now the tears in my eyes started to come out. I felt it rolled down my cheeks. Some of it dropped into my mouth and it tasted like salty water. I turned and tried to hide my face in the sofa so the others would not notice, but I was making one kind of sound in my throat, and everybody soon knew I was crying.
Oyigwe put her arms around my shoulders and pulled me to herself. She told me not to cry. She was talking as if she wanted to cry too. She said to me: “Mummy and Daddy will soon come to take us home, okay?”
I nodded my head.
Buki and Tayo put their arms on my shoulders too, and they said I should not cry. They said they believe their Daddy will bring our parents back home in his car.
“When you are crying, Jesus will not be able to listen to you,” Tayo reminded me, “Just tell Jesus that you want Him to bring your parents back safely and he will do it. That was what our Sunday school teacher taught us.”
“Or you don’t know that Satan will be happy when he sees you crying?” Buki said quietly and gestured with her hand.
Mrs. Salami came out of her room. She asked to know why I was crying.
“It’s because he is missing his Daddy and Mummy,” Tayo quickly told her.
She smiled kindly and patted me on the head. “Eyah…, pele,” she said in Yoruba, “Your parents would soon come back and all of you can go home, okay?”
She looked at the grandfather clock doing “tick tock tick tock” on the wall.
“Don’t you children think we should all say our night prayer so everybody can go and sleep?” she said to us.
Tayo quickly went to the TV and twisted the knob to switch it off (he always wanted to be the first to do everything).
Mrs. Salami said we should all hold our hands while we prayed to God. She said we should tell Jesus whatever we wanted Him to do for us that night. I closed my eyes and I told Jesus to please make our Mummy and Daddy to come back home from the hospital because I already missed them so much. Afterwards Mrs. Salami said we should all say the grace together:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us now and forever.
And we all chorused a big amen then opened our eyes.
Mrs. Salami said I and Tayo should sleep in his bed while Oyigwe and Buki slept in Buki’s bed. We wanted to start moving into the bedroom when Jaguar started to bark and make so much noise outside. A car had just parked in front of their house.
“Daddy is back!” Tayo almost shouted. He was excited and was jumping up and down, “Mummy, Daddy has returned.” He dashed towards the door.
His Mummy scolded him to behave himself immediately and leave the door alone. “How many times would I warn you to never open that door unless I asked you to do so, Tayo?” she said to him.
My heart started to beat very fast; I wanted so much that our Daddy and Mummy were in the car with Mr. Salami.
I heard the car’s door being opened and closed and then there was a knock on the door afterwards.
After peeping to make sure the person outside was their Daddy indeed, Mrs. Salami unlocked the key. Their Daddy entered and closed the door behind him. Jaguar rushed into the room too. He was looking up at all of us and wagging his tail. Our Daddy and Mummy were not with Mr. Salami. My heart started to beat so loud that I thought I was hearing it in both of my ears. I felt as if I was going to be sick at that instant. Tayo’s Mummy welcomed their Daddy in Yoruba. She said: “E’kabo.”
Tayo went to hug him. “Welcome, Daddy,” he said. Buki and Oyigwe knelt down and greeted him too. But I didn’t go to greet him. I was sad. Our Daddy and Mummy didn’t come back from the hospital. The tears in my eyes started to pour down again. When Mr. Salami saw me crying he beckoned for me to come to him. I went to him. “I want to see my Daddy and Mummy,” I sobbed sadly.
“You will definitely see them tomorrow,” he said to me. “The doctors needed to keep your Daddy in the hospital for the night so they could monitor his injuries and give him the best medicine that would make him get well fast, and your Mummy had to with him so that he will not be alone. You better stop crying because everything will be fine.”
But I could not stop crying. Everybody kept telling me everything would be fine. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I should believe them any longer. The tears just poured down again and again and again. I was afraid that they may be doing something really bad to Daddy in the hospital, and that made me to cry even more.
Daddy had never slept in the hospital. Now I wondered why the doctors insisted he should sleep there. Why didn’t Daddy tell them he preferred to come back home and sleep in his big iron bed? Everything that was happening wasn’t making sense to me anymore. I didn’t know whether I should be angry with Daddy; he was supposed to be the strongest man in the whole world. I had always thought nothing could harm him. He was my hero, my superman. I even boasted to Ibrahim in my class that our Daddy was so strong he could carry all of us on his powerful shoulders…
Mr. Salami made me to sit on his lap and he talked to me the way Daddy used to talk to me when I was not feeling too well or when I was sad or frightened over something. He promised me that we could all go to see Daddy in the hospital tomorrow if I stop crying. His words brought some hope into my mind. It calmed me enough to make me listen to what he was saying. Somehow, I believed he meant as he had said. He thereafter led me to join the others who were already in the children’s bedroom. I could see Tayo peering at me from behind the mosquito net around his bed. Oyigwe was in the second bed with Buki. I had stopped crying and dried my eyes with the back of my palms.
Mr. Salami waited for me to clamber into the bed beside Tayo then he walked to the door and paused to say good night to us. He then went out of the room and closed the door quietly behind him.
“What was my Daddy telling you? Did he promise to buy you toys tomorrow?” Tayo began to ask as soon as I lay down beside him.
“Shut up and go to sleep,” Buki scolded him.
I must be very tired because I closed my eyes and slept off almost immediately.