- - The Promise - A Story Written By Esther Eiyegbeni - DaOptimistic Media Publishing


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Friday, 17 April 2020

The Promise - A Story Written By Esther Eiyegbeni

Illustration Photo 
Lade stood at the window watching the children from the next house play on the street. They were her friends and she was supposed to be with them,  playing and laughing as they pushed each other playfully and played games but what was going on at hand wasn't calling for joy.

"Lade", A man's voice called.  She didn't want to turn but had to because she knew that if she didn't,  she might never see that face again which she knew was dramatic. Tears in her eyes, She turned to the voice.

"My girl,  come here", the owner of the voice said beckoning to her.  She ran into his arms and cried on his chest. Her father tried to soothe her,  mumbling words into her hair but the crying intensified.

"Stop crying,  I'll back  before you know it", her father pleaded.

She raised her head and sniffed, "That's what you keep on saying,  you will come back,  you will come back but we don't know when and you always come late".

"Don't worry,  this time,  I'll be back before you know it", her father said,  looking into her eyes.
"Mmph", she sniffed again.

 Her father was a businessman who travelled frequently from one place to another and often spent much time away from home. Riches could buy anything but what she wanted was her father's presence and love.  Yes,  he loved her but she wanted more. She was the only child of her parents and had grown accustomed staying with her mum all the time but she had a father and wanted to feel his presence too.

She suddenly had an idea, " Why can't Mummy and I go with you?"

"If that was possible,  I would have allowed it but what about mummy's work and your education?", he asked.

The tears flowed again, "Mummy will surely get a job there and I will go to a school there too". Her father shook her head,  wanting to explain to her but she didn't want to hear any of it.

"It can be possible ,  why can't we all go together"? , she asked,  trying another tactic.

"Lade, I'll be back before you know it,  it's going-

"No, no,  no!", Lade cried as she moved out of his arms and turned away,  crying.

"Honey, the time is ticking,  you wouldn't want to miss your flight", Lade's mum said to her husband. This wasn't the first time her husband was traveling for a long while So it didn't faze her though her heart was breaking.  She could fully understand what her daughter was feeling,  but she had to be strong for both of them.

"I promise to be home before your birthday, okay. What about that?", Her husband said, kneeling beside their crying daughter.
Lade looked up with pain etched in her eyes,  "My birthday?"

He nodded.  It was April and her birthday was in November which was going to be 7 months without seeing him. This was the longest he was going to be away from them.

"You promise?", she asked, She wanted to say more but knew it was going to amount to nothing.

"Yes,  I do. I promise,  I'll be back before your birthday", He promised.  She nodded and they hugged each other. Her mother stood at the door smiling sadly.

7 months later

Hugging herself, Lade stood at the same window she had months ago and watched the street. It was devoid of playing kids as It was rainy season and the weather was a bit chilly so most of them were indoors.

 If anyone  had looked up and seen Lade at the window,  they would have thought she was waiting for someone or something to happen,  which in fact she was.  It was a week to her birthday and her father who had promised to come before the day wasn't home yet. Though she spoke to him through video calls and texts,  she still wanted to feel his presence. Anytime she asked when he would be back,  he would say nothing for a while and repeat what he always said "before your birthday". After a while,  she stopped asking,  she only wondered if he would fulfill his promise.

There are been a lot of times he didn't, she remembered a day he had promised to be with her but the promise wasn't fulfilled. There had been an open day in her school where parents were to check their ward(s) notebooks and  see their class teachers. She had asked her dad to come for her which he had promised.  She remembered going to school,  giddy because some of her mates hadn't believed she had a dad but knowing he was going to be around,  she wanted to see the shock and surprise on their faces when they see her dad.

When the clock struck twelve,  the parents started trooping in going to their ward(s) respective class teachers and there was berserk of activity. Even when the time was ticking,  she waited and waited,  when her mates started to mock her,  she didn't care but waited and prayed fervently that he was going to come. When one of her friends  called her that her parent was around,  she ran towards her Teachers' office happily but stopped short when she found her mother sitting in front of her class teacher. She didn't ask or say anything,  just went through the proceedings and when done, followed her mother back home.
When they got home, she decided to ask to satisfy her curiousity.

"What of Dad?".

"He went out, he'll soon be back", her mother replied.  Even without words,  she knew what the message meant: he had a business to attend to urgently and might not be back for some days.  She nodded,  went into her room and the waterworks began. Even when he came back,  she didn't say anything about the matter,  she wondered what the point was about.  Now,  though some years had passed,  she wondered if he was going to fulfill this one.

Someone knocked at the gate.  She moved closer to the window, wanting to check the identity of the person but it was only her mother's best friend. She turned away from the window.

The day

"Happy Birthday!!!".
These were the first words Lade heard as she woke up. It was from her mum who was whooping and clapping her hands gleefully.
"Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby!", She shouted, showering kisses on Lade's face.  Lade couldn't help but grin,  She was ten and she remembered her teacher saying that with every age, the person became older and wiser.

Before she could say thank you,  her mother began to sing a birthday song for her. She cringed inwardly,  her mother wasn't a good singer and it didn't help that she sang off-key sometimes but she truly appreciated it and sang along with her.

"I've got a lot of Presents for you,  want to see them?", She asked. Seeing her nod,  she left the room to get them. Lade quickly turned to her window and looked outside. The day wasn't different from the other days,  but there was something she was searching for.  It was her father's car,  anytime he travelled, he always took the car with him and also came back with it but she didn't see it. She turned away sadly, she had promised herself she wasn't going to cry on her special day.  He wasn't going to come and she had accepted her fate.

Her mother came in bearing presents on her arm and drpopped them on her bed. Smiling,  she went through them 'aahing' and 'wowing' at  each one. When she had gone through all,  she sat up and hugged her mum tightly.

"Thank you very much", she said.

"You're welcome,  now for the special Present", her mum said with a glint in her eyes.
Confused with a smile on her face, "Special present? I thought this is everything", She asked pointing to the gifts on the bed.

"Well,  yes but there's one that's really big and can't enter the room so you've to come down and go to see it", She replied, winking.

Laughing as she came down from the bed,  her mother walked with her to the door. As she placed her hands on the door knob,  Lade stopped her.

"Wait,  aren't you to put something to cover my face like they do in the movies?", she asked.

Her mother snorted playfully  "Please,  you know I'm not into those American movies you like watching".

Laughing,  Lade opened the door.

   If someone had told her weeks ago not to worry about her father's arrival because he was going to be available on her birthday,  she would have laughed in that person's face. How could her father promise to be home before her birthday and not make it,  then on her birthday,  arrive to wish her? It was something she was sure wouldn't happen.

But looking into his eyes as he held up a string of colorful balloons in his hand looking like that clown in one movie she watched some weeks back,  she knew things not expected could really happen.

"Happy Birthday", he said,  a smile on his face as he stretched his hands towards her.  Both adults held their breath as they watched different emotions flit on their daughter face.

"You promised and you came", Lade said, a tear slipping down her face.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world", Her father replied back with love in his eyes. She turned to her mother who smiled back at her with the same emotion in her eyes.
Grinning with tears in her eyes,  she ran to him and hugged each other. Her mum completed the circle by hugging both of them.

 Lade finally realized something,  even though her father was always away, the small time he spent with them would always be appreciated because it was better than no time and didn't Someone say it was the small things that counted,  she read that somewhere but couldn't remember. Well, there was no need,  because it was her birthday and her father had promised( though not on the day he said) to be there and he fulfilled it.

What's a promise if it isn't fulfilled?

Written By: Esther Eiyegbeni 
Little Bee

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