DADDY’S GIRL (Episode 1)
By Ellen Eliza
He shut the doors and windows angrily and headed towards his study as it began raining in torrents. Most people loved rain and the smell of sand during rainfall in a dry season but he, he hated rainfalls. He used to love rain, jumping unto his huge compound with her and run around, laughing and playing around as the rain-soaked them.
They would go into their room afterward, take a warm bath in the tub in which he usually added a bit of lavender to the water and they would make love over and over again until the dawn.
He frowned entering his study and slamming the door behind him as he picked up a photo frame, staring at the lady’s picture. He smiled sadly and ran his fingers across the frame and then clutched it to his chest tightly, his eyes pooling, tears threatening to fall.
She was lively, outgoing, funny, and beautiful, more than the word beautiful. He closed his eyes, remembering how her eyes glistened anytime she smiled at him and the way she would often pinch and pull her cheeks absent-mindedly anytime she was nervous or scared. He recalled how she suddenly began to get dizzy spells, vomit, feel nauseous at the smell of any fresh foodstuff. He had taken her to the hospital for treatment and the news they received was all they needed to make their lives complete.
“Mr. Arnold Bempong, congratulations, your wife is four weeks pregnant,” the doctor told them with smiles. He remembered vividly the look on his wife’s face. She jumped for joy at the news and then suddenly had a sullen look on her face.
“What’s wrong Amanda, aren’t you happy?”
“I am. I was just surprised. I’m so happy my love” she lied and kissed him but he wasn’t convinced.
He soon brushed away that thought and began making plans for their baby, buying clothes, baby cot, arranging a room for their child and others. He never found out the reason for her sad look that fateful day until their child, their daughter was born. He remembered throughout her pregnancy, she often had abdominal cramps, dizzy spells and back pains.
“My love are you okay? We really need to go to the hospital, please. These pains you’ve been getting is becoming frequent.” He would tell her often
“No Arnold I’m okay. The doctor gave me some medicines, he said I will be fine if I take them regularly and rest a lot”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes sure” she would answer with her captivating smile…..
“Sir, dinner is ready” Grace, his cook and daughter’s Nanny, said from behind the door, jolting him out of his thoughts. He sighed. He had thought of the past again. He put the picture frame back in his desk and walked out to the dining table.
Grace was serving him with some plantains and palava sauce when she ran inside towards him, her hair and palms wet. Arnold stared at her, his eyes burning with rage. He stood up and grabbed her arm angrily, she winced slightly, her eyes getting teary. She had always been scared of him.
“Why did you go out when I’ve warned you several times not to step out when it’s raining”
“Daddy I didn’t go into the rain. I was on the veranda. Daddy I..”
“Shut up Fiona!!!! I don’t care whether you were on the veranda or not. Don’t ever step out of that door when it’s raining or else I will give you the beatings of your life. Got it?” He yelled at his five-year-old daughter. She nodded in fright, tears falling.
“Now sit and eat your food!!” He commanded angrily. Fiona looked up at her father and shrieked in fright… She ran upstairs and locked the door after entering her room…
She sat on the tiled floor, crying. She didn’t know what she had done wrong this time for her father to scold her like that and that look she always saw in his eyes frightened her.
As long as she could remember, it was her nanny, Grace who did everything for her. Bath her, feed her, dress her, give her toys, play with her, help her do her homework and take her to school every morning. She was too little to understand anything but one thing she knew was that her father never liked her. He had never smiled with her or played with her, he never asked her about school nor asked her about her homework, he never bought her toys neither did he ever buy her toffees and biscuits after coming home from work like her friends used to tell her about their father’s.
She always had nothing to say about him. Nanny Grace always told her, her mother was in heaven protecting her and that she loved her so why wasn’t her father doing the same? She had occasionally made a drawing of her father and mother but Arnold always shouted at her whenever she had gone to show them to him and she would run back to her room crying.
Fiona jumped onto her bed and laid there sadly till sleep came knocking at her door…
Arnold was pacing restlessly in his bedroom wondering why he had scolded her. He knew he shouldn’t have but she just kept doing things which reminded him of the past. He had warned her several times not to step out when it was raining but she did and it angered him the more. He just couldn’t help, staring at Fiona without feeling his wife’s absence, without feeling anger towards her. Yes, she was his daughter but still, he blamed her for everything. If only Amanda had told him the truth once, just once, then she would have still been with him until now, running around in the rain as she loved to…
He had warned Nanny Grace to make sure Fiona stays clear off his path but somehow, the girl always found a way to run up to him when he returned from work and wrap her tiny hands around his legs hoping he would lift her and kiss her but he never did… She always found a way to sneak into his study late at night, looking scared especially when there was light out hoping he would lift her, hold her till her fears went away and she would fall asleep but he always ended up pushing her away, telling her to go sleep by her nanny.
“Daddy I’m scared. There’s a monster up there” she ran into his room one night, climbing into the bed with him when there was a power cut
“There’s no monster Fiona, go to sleep”
“Then go to nanny Grace’s room and sleep” he replied sternly.
“But daddy I want to sleep with you” she protested
“I said go to your nanny’s room Fiona!” he replied almost shouting. His shouts made her shriek in fright and she quickly climbed down the bed, running out. That was the last time she came into his room or run out to hug him when he returned from work. And he was glad it stopped because he didn’t want her to be coming in front of him.
As far as he was concerned, he was doing his duty as a father by sending her to one of the best schools in the region, paying her school Fees, buying her clothes and books and that was enough…
Arnold slumped into bed, his arms over his head, his eyes closed as he allowed his mind drift to that fateful night five years ago when his life turned into a sad tale…..
TO BE CONTINUED…