He spoke to her about love like she can actually hear him. Daddy’s little girl.
The reason he found infinite beauty in the absurdity of the world, amidst the hostility of impediments a mid-aged widower could find himself swathed inside, which could easily lead to glooming days filled with malice.
Forget what the neighbours who were eavesdropping said, he always declared his undying love to his daughter.
His first and last.
He found not a reason to live, but life itself, each time he gazed long enough into the splendour of her big brown eyes. Nunu. He said this every morning.
It swayed its tenderness out of his mouth from deep within, like a lullaby, spreading its meaning like a spring butterfly or like blossoming lilies when no one was watching.
Quarter past five – early morning.
“I am leaving now my Nunu, I need to make money so we can eat and live a better life.”
She simplistically nodded and uttered random innocent laughter as if she had heard what he said; of course she did not; she was deaf. But, the world was wonderful to her; deaf, crippled and ten as she was. She was gullible, like her mother. She reminded him of her mother with each day that passed which made moving on terribly intricate. He did not know how to handle the pleasure or displeasure of having what seemed like a replica of his late wife, because it made him feel like his wife was there, but he couldn’t touch her. Like a feeling.
After his wife died minutes after giving life to Nunu, he was no longer certain as to what his life amounted to anymore; he contemplated suicide more than the breaths he took.
“Though tomorrow and death are equally uncertain, I would rather die than face another tomorrow without my wife.”
He often said to whoever was willing to hear.
Nunu’s mother was his soul mate and he swore he would never replace her; how could he? Why would he? He was, in fact, content that he would love her for the rest of his life.
What else does a man have to live and die for – except the ones he loves?
What else does a man have to live and die for – except the ones he loves? This was his plea when he encountered some silly boys from a faraway township. His loved ones. Their approach was bizarre, somewhat territorial. No, definitely territorial. They searched him.
‘I have nothing.”
They wouldn’t hear it, he looked at them and they seemed to believe that he had nothing, but that they were in an appetite to do something awful. He thought of Nunu, one of them stabbed him with an immense disconnect to what he was doing, not looking at him but at what he was doing and deriving pleasure out of it. They left him there to die, ate the bananas that were inside his backpack and walked away.
Quarter past seven, evening.
Nunu waited for his marvellous home-coming mood. Every day when he came back from work, he would holistically embrace Nunu’s tiny body, as a table cloth does a table; often neglecting that on certain occasions, Nunu wanted to be left alone, but would entertain daddy’s gloating embrace, because had she not, daddy would sulk through the night like a seven year old.
Quarter past eleven, late evening.
She was still waiting for the door to open; for him to add radiance to her world with his smile, to take out three bananas out of his backpack as always.
She started looking for him. In his residual scent. Down the lines of her face, on the mirror and even round the anguish which now shielded her innocent face. She looked for him in everything that was not said, within the palm of her right hand, beneath the moist inside her ears, in the pace of each split-second in-between her racing heart beats, inside her fear, inside herself.
She waited like a thirst to be quenched; anxious as a bladder to be alleviated from heavy urine, she waited in melancholy like a beggar at the corner of a quiet street on a Sunday afternoon.
Quarter past five, early morning.
She was in complicit silence. She saw him put out his hand and potently smile. He looked serene as he said
“I will always love you, my Nunu.”
She couldn’t believe it; his benevolent words filled up her heart and impregnated her with the revelation that a deaf girl can hear when her father tells her he loves her, and that this love had promised to carry her through hardships she was to face. She couldn’t wait to tell the world.