Key in one hand, and grocery bag and my laptop bag in another, I walk the driveway towards the front door after a long day at work. As I pass the living room window I see a little being standing there, looking out and waving shyly. I smile at her and walk a little faster. Just when I put the key through the hole, I hear some shuffling inside and I realize that she’s rushing towards the door. I open it a little, carefully, in case she’s standing too close. I see a pair of expressive eyes; she’s there, at the entrance to the living room, leaning against the wall, only her white dress visible in the dark room.
Her smile welcomes me home. Hi, I say to her. Hi, she responds. I am starting school from tomorrow, she says, enthused. Congratulations, I tell her and drop whatever I am holding to give her a hug and plant a kiss on her forehead. Why are you all alone here in the dark? I ask her. Everyone else is napping. I couldn’t sleep, and I had nothing else to do. I was getting bored, she says, dialing down her excited tone. Let’s go see what we can find for you to do, I tell her and she follows me with a hop in her steps.
We put the groceries in place and I tell her I’ll be down with her in a bit as soon as I freshen up. She follows me still and stops as I start to climb the stairs. Aunty, may I come upstairs with you and see if I can find anything in that room? she asks me. Of course, I tell her and wait for her to join me. As I wash up and change, she plays around with the hula-hoop. And as soon as I step out all fresh, we set out to find something for her to do.
DVDs, she asks. None, I say. Games, she points. Not suitable for you, I reject. TV, she lights up. Haven’t you already watched it for a while today? I retort. After going back and forth like this for a while, we decide we will find her a notebook and some pencils so she can practice writing or just draw. We find a few crayons, grab a notebook and go back to the living room to start her art venture. She sketches fruits and vegetables and colors them appropriately while I mull around about what book to read next. And as soon as I find one, I settle next to her and we are lost in our own worlds, yet sharing the tranquility that surrounds.
I hear murmurs. I silently lean back and notice that two tiny hands, slowly and carefully, aid the little one up the stairs. After she pulls herself up, she looks around to make note of who is where and as soon as she spots me, she goes running to the kitchen into her mother’s arms. A lot of cajoling, bribing and persuading later, she comes to the living room, settles next to her sister and gets hold of a crayon. She looks around not knowing where to write. I hand her a paper and she starts scribbling. She’s proud of her creation; she smiles at its wonder and goes around showing everyone her craft. It’s my turn now. Just as I expect her to skip it conveniently, she startles me. She walks over, I hold my hand out, and she places the paper on it while flashing a smile so beautiful that I melt million times over. Grasping the rarity of the moment, I scoop her up and hold her tight until she squeals to be let go.
The three of us continue our activities – reading, drawing, scribbling, racing down the stairs, coloring, hula-hooping, watching out the window – while we wait for the partner to return. As I hear the sound of the motorbike pulling into the driveway, I tell them that Uncle’s home. No he’s not, the elder one replies, while she scans outside and tries to spot him. I ask her to look out the side window and so she does. As soon as she sees him approaching the door, she announces that she’s going to hide so he can find her upon arrival. And the door opens. There I am saying hello to him and telling him that someone’s hiding for him to find her, the little one runs screaming into the kitchen, having been scared by the man in the helmet. Her mother coaxes her into good mood; it’s then followed by cooking, having dinner, relaxing and finishing up the remaining chores.
And like that the evening whizzes by in no time and diffuses into a peaceful night.