He was due to arrive in a couple of hours.
Mum had worn her wig and that floral scent she reserved for those times when dad was coming from one of his regular trips.
“Guys, I know I promised we would go to grandma’s place this weekend, but I’m sorry that won’t be possible anymore…”
Before he finished, Ire had yanked off the arm that held him on dad’s lap and flung himself on the blue Persian rug in the middle of the living room.
My younger brother was only seven years old, but already, everyone knew about his legendary emotional reactions. He was quick to get hurt and throw a tantrum, but that was just because he had a soft heart.
“You have started again, that’s how you said we would travel to Abuja during our last holiday and you didn’t take us,” he sobbed into a folded arm, face-down on the rug.
“Ireoluwa, common, daddy will be back before you know it,” dad said.
He lifted me up with care and planted me on my feet, patting my cornrows.
I watched the mild drama as dad squatted beside my brother and whispered some words to him.
“Okay, daddy,” Ire said wiping the tears from his face.
Whatever dad said had worked.
That was over a week ago, and now, we waited in anticipation for his arrival.
My phone rang, startling me out of my daydream.
It was Uncle Kenny.
“Oreoluwa, my baby. How are you today?”
“I’m fine, Uncle Kenny.”
“I have been trying to reach your mum, What happened to her line?”
“Oh, I’m not sure. Maybe she’s charging it somewhere.”
I delivered the phone to mum at her dresser where she sat brushing her hair.
My mum was beautiful, and it was not just because of her fair skin. It was far more than that. She had huge brown eyes and long flowing hair which often made people ask if she was mixed race.
She had hoped I would inherit her features, but at 12, it was obvious I was my father’s daughter. I had his dark skin and bushy brows while Ire was the startling replica of mum.
He, it was who came with the milk skin, long eyelashes, and slender fingers that would make many ladies jealous.
When mum showed up with my phone a few minutes later, she informed us that dad won’t be back for a few more days.
His business had taken longer than usual and he had told his brother to call us because he had been the only one he could reach at the time.
“Will we be picking him at the airport?” I asked
“No, darling, he’ll come home himself,” mum said.
I woke up on Sunday to see dad reading the newspaper on his favourite sofa in the living room.
“Daddy?” I asked as rubbed my face and wondered if he was the one sitting there.
“Yes, baby, Daddy is here!”
His angular face broke into a grin.
I flung myself at him.
“I didn’t know you would come so early!”
“Haha, yes dear. Daddy decided to surprise you.”
“Don’t mind your daddy, that’s how I couldn’t believe my eyes too when I saw him, especially since I couldn’t reach him on the phone.”
Mum had walked in while dad and I embraced.
We sat on either side of him while he told us about his trip and why he had to stay an extra week.
“You look different.”
We all looked up from dad’s phone where he had been showing us photos from the business meeting he attended.
Ire was standing by the bedroom door. He looked to not be in a hurry to join us, which was weird because he had been the same person who couldn’t stop asking when dad would be back.
“Ireoluwa, come and hug daddy,” dad urged him forward.
My brother didn’t move at first, and when he did, it was a tentative, awkward movement.
Dad scooped him up and embraced him.
Over the next few weeks, our family routine continued as usual.
But, something was different.
Dad seemed to forget many things that formed a part of our daily ritual.
The forehead kisses and hugs I and brother got every morning were missing. We had to keep reminding him about them.
I also overheard my parents quarreling in their room. Dad had forgotten to help mum with something he had promised some weeks before.
My parents seldom quarreled, so it was strange to see mum storm out their room and slam the door in anger.
But it was Ire who had the strangest behaviour. He would often withdraw to his room whenever dad was around rather than ask questions and make endless demands like he used to.
One day, when dad had gone to work and we had just returned from school. There was a scream from the bedroom.
Ire and I rushed into mum’s room where the scream had come from and saw her staring into her phone. Her palms were clasped over her mouth and her eyes had widened in horror.
“Mummy, what is it?”
I grabbed the phone from her hands to see what was responsible for her expression.
And there it was, the image of a man that looked like dad.
One of the victims of the fatal accident which occurred on the 4th of July along Abuja-Kaduna expressway has been identified as Mr. Taiwo Olalere. We urge anyone who has any information concerning family or friends of Mr. Taiwo Olalere to contact the nearest police station with details.
The three of us stared at one another.
“If dad isn’t the one who has been with us for the past one month, then who is the person?”
I couldn’t recognise my own voice.
The silence lingered.
Then Ire spoke
“It’s Uncle Kenny. He has been the one acting like dad.”
Mum’s shrill scream was the last thing I heard before everything went dark.