DADDY MI, BABA DUPE

I love the way he calls me.

“Modupe mi”

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He says it in his rich mellow baritone. It comes out measured, slowly; like he’s tasting the letters before letting them out. His lips are upturned; the smile on his face push his cheeks higher, highlight the fine lines of his face that would be wrinkles in a couple more years. His wide ‘Kuku’ nose looks slim; compact as he tries to hold-in laughter at what he thinks is my stubbornness. The dark chocolate of his irises are dancing, making them entrancing despite the red lines shading his cornea. I can’t remember much of why we got into the debate, it has gotten mixed up in my staring at his face. I walk to him and touch his face; it feels like rough soft leather, like that old grandma’s bag we found in the basement when my brothers and I went ransacking the house during one jobless holiday. It feels familiar and comfortable: soft, welcoming, giving. I trace the line that separates his cheeks from his nose; tentatively wonder if I can hide a needle there, and decide that I can. I look up at him; his eyes are looking at my head. I can tell he is wondering what I’m thinking, and the eyebrows he raises confirms it. I smile at him; my ‘nothing’ smile. He knows he won’t get an answer out of me. It’s the smile that says “yes there’s something on my mind and, no, I’m not telling you“.

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I like the way he looks at me.

“When did you get this injury?”

I hate that question, I think. It makes me feel careless; mostly because I usually never even know there is an injury until he sees it. His eyes are narrowed in a squint; the ridges on his forehead lined deeper to become flesh-dividers. I follow his gaze to find the offending injury or scar of one. Sometimes, most times, I have no recollection of the injury. He dislikes that. I dislike that he dislikes it. There are just some things a girl doesn’t remember or perhaps doesn’t wish to disclose because, well, just because. After I forgive his all-seeing eyes I admit I like the way he looks at me. The pride and love, the possessiveness and admiration, the protection and Papa-Liony of it.

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I hate that I do not fully recall my best baby-memory of him.

It’s a picture of a young man in his twenties with a head-full of dark kinky afro. In his left hand is a little basket, a child’s lunch pack; and in his right is the baby. Little baby curls packed up in four places hint that it’s a baby girl. She knows she is safe right where she is; her mouth is open and her round baby cheeks are puffed out. The little stuffed creature she has in her right hand is being waved wildly, and her left hand is exploring the white coloured crispiness on her father’s shoulder. She must have been babbling little stories about the boy with whom she shared a toothless smile that day at the creche. But the picture kept no memory of that; so now we can’t tell for sure. She was me; knowing the man upon whose elbow she was seated was wrapped around her little fingers.

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Daddy mi darling, Daddy mi honey, Daddy mi sugar! Thank you for being the man wrapped around my little finger. For being the man who sees me, who calls me. I love you plentiful plentiful. Happy Happy Birthday Daddy.

“Err… Can I get some cake via DHL please?”

*Pouts, bats little Baby Dupe eyes*

Thank you Daddy. #xoxo

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