For the first time since Kazeem’s death, I finally bring myself to window sill anticipating Kamiye’s arrival as I heard the giant gates open allowing an automobile drive-in. I sighed in defeat finding a stranger instead and felt nauseated when my gaze riveted to the spot of Kazeem’s death just beyond the gate. All along, I had managed to keep away from here since the incident a couple of days back. Flittingly, my eyes roved over the bloom of flowers resembling that in my mysterious dreams involving Dr. Dominic.
Cold seared through as my thoughts were easily replaced with the faceless abductor which in the past days have kept popping like some plague. Nothing in my memory search conjured memories of him. Nothing had provided answers to the cause of the dream itself, as I have never fantasised about Dr. Dominic.
Clearly, I am facing too many demons at the same time. And with a shake of my head, I bulged far from the window and out the door needing to clear my head, as I simply called to Tijani “I am going for a walk.”
I am followed by him. The thud of his boot against the linoleum floors was enough announcement. And as he walked past me to lead the way, I realized I’m still yet to get past the weirdness of having a stationary guard.
Reaching out, I made sure not to look to the gate when a voice suddenly called from behind, drawing both my attention and Tijani’s. It was Dr. Dominic’s little girl and Tijani started to keep her away when I intervened.
He moved to let her through, and she confidently strode towards me, unintimidated by the huge man. I mentally lauded her courage.
“Good afternoon.” She greeted, and even more unsurely, “I saw you from the reception and just wanted to say hello.”
My face lit up a genuine smile. “Thank you. I’m glad you came.”
“Who is he?” she frowned curiously at Tijani.
Tijani’s gaze had strayed briefly, but then it returned as he’d overheard her.
“What for?” Confusion read on her face.
“My brother thinks I need one. It’s a long story.”
Kamsi’s eyes flashed with tons of inquiries. For a moment, she seemed like she would press further.
“What’s your name? I don’t even know your name” she said. And I realized we were yet for a proper introduction.
“Pelumi…Pelumi Longe.” Thankfully they no longer felt weird to my ears.
“My dad says you have Am-” she stopped then, realizing what information she’d divulged.
“Amnesia.” I finished on a gentle smile.
She nodded wanly “You acted quite…strangely, so I asked him.”
“It’s fine.” I dismissed, though I could not rid the flutter at knowing I had been discussed by father and child. I am slightly curious as to their discussion.
“How does that feel?”
“Frustrating,” I answered in earnest.
“I can imagine…”
“You look good.” I changed topics as the very last thing I need is a little girl’s pity. And it is true. She does look good and angelic in an all-white lacy dress; a halo was all that was left to complete the look.
Kamsi consciously smooth her palm down her dress, reveling in the compliment. “Dad and I just returned from church.”Something about her words perked curiosity like there was something or rather, someone missing-a mother. And why do I care about it?
Momentarily, I wondered if Dominic was anything like my father. Perhaps my dream was my intuition’s way of asking me to steer clear of him.
“I prayed for you in church. I have been praying for you.” Kamsi’s voice cut through my thoughts.
“Really?” My insides softened, at such benevolent concern from a child who barely even knew me.
She gave a coy nod.
“So what did you pray about?”
“I asked God to heal the woman who lost her memory in the car accident. “She shrugged. “I’ve been praying that way since I first saw you.”
I felt a swell of emotion, tears pooled in my eyes from her kind gestures and sincerity “Well, it seems like God is hearing your prayers. Thank you. ”
“You’re welcome” she softly returned while I spoke myself out off further mushiness.
“So tell me about yourself.” I led the happy child to the nearest pavement, and we both sat closely nestled
“I’m Kamsiyonna Ugbonna, Kamsi for short, Dr Dominic is my dad.” She shot the you-already-know look. I smiled.
“My mum is late.”
My eyes automatically bulged.
“She died at my birth…” She trailed on, scarcely feeding my curiosity as she stared quietly into the distance. Guilt glazed in her eyes. It hurt to know she bore such burdens.
“I’m sorry about that, but look it wasn’t your fault.” I tried to assure her as she turned to me unconvinced. Thankfully, there was a glimpse of hope in her eyes. “I’m sure she knows that and wants you to go and live the best of your life.”
“How do you know?” her voiced lowered.
“Because that’s what mother’s want.” I held her solemn expectant eyes. “They want the best for their kids.”
She nodded unconvinced and forged ahead on how her father had never remarried. My heart fluttered on hearing about the doctor’s singleness but I shrugged it off.
“It’s been me and daddy mostly. My grandparents visit sometimes, my uncles, my aunts, and my cousins…I have a baby sitter too, she is nice.” she said with a smile.
Her voice solemnly broke into my repertoire as she continued. “I’m eight, I’m in basic five, Sayo is my best friend-her mum is dead too.” She explained ruefully but brightened catatonically. “I want to be a designer when I grow up, but I know daddy wants me a doctor.” her mouth dipped again ruefully.
“Did he tell you that?”
Yes, but that was a long time ago. He hasn’t said anything about it since then but I know he still wants it.”
“Well, assumptions are sometimes wrong.” At least that much I have learnt from father.
“No, I know my dad!”
I allowed her firm insistence at that. “My dad is my number one best friend” she flashed uneven sets of teeth. I smiled with a tinge of jealousy, knowing it could never be that way with my only surviving parent.
“Your turn,” she said but hastily added. “You don’t have to if you don’t remember.”
I tossed her a gentle smile. “We are alike in some ways, my mother is dead too. I lost her when I was little.”
Her eyes clicked with understanding and at that moment, our connection seemed to deepen in light of the recent revelation.
“My family consists of a big brother, a sister-in-law, two wonderful nephews… and a father.” I added the last as an afterthought. “And I am a journalist.”
“Your brother and you were involved in the accident?”
I nodded in affirmation.
“I know. It was shown on TV”
She nodded “I hope he is better now?”
“He was luckier,” I said on a deep exhale. “Just a fractured leg.” I glared glumly at my cast.
I had begun to feel drained, but I wouldn’t show it to the kid. I wouldn’t spoil the moment.
“So you do not remember anything about the accident?” She asked disbelievingly.
“No, I only recently began to remember a few childhood experiences. It feels like my brain is working back to the very beginning.” I relayed in Dr Halima’s words.
She nodded as one with a deep sense of understanding staring thoughtfully ahead.
“You love them a lot.”
“What?” I turned lost to her words.
“Flowers,” she signaled. “You have your eyes on them always.”
I smiled “Weird?”
“Very!” she giggled robustly. My smile grew in the face of that near contagious sound.“No, I was kidding. It’s not weird.” She turned serious again. “But most people are not concerned about this stuff.”
“Nature.” She supplied. “They are well overlooked in this part of the world.”
Perhaps there was some truth in her words as I am yet to find anyone as mesmerized with these plants like I.
“And why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know. I think people have become too habituated with nature,” she spoke pensively. “They are probably concerned about other things -like money.”
“How do you know?”
I am as much shocked as impressed by her reasoning.
“I observe.” She continued seeing my ignorance. “Most of the kids at my school complain they can’t spend time with their parents because they are busy. Miss Cordelia my class teacher says we should understand and appreciate our parents because they work hard to make money and give us the best. But daddy is different. We hang out whenever he is chanced. My dad always makes time for me-I’m his angel.” She said that with apparent content.
“Good. But that’s sad for your friend.” Her lips thinned glumly. “A parent should make time for his kid no matter what.”
She agreed as we both contentedly settled in silence.
“Pollination.” Kamsi rendered, looking over at my scene of interest. Thankfully, somehow I knew just what it was all about. And she’d only began to help to name the plants when grim-faced nurse Titi appeared. Kamsi arose reluctantly to her father’s summon just as I was slowly becoming attached to my newest companion. I didn’t want her to leave and from her eyes, I could tell she felt the same. But she had to.
And so she waved and didn’t stop until disappearing into the building. I felt a soft throb in my heart for her. And for whatever it is worth, I knew I had made a friend in the little woman, and even more, I love it.