It was a rainy day; the thunder was loud, the lightning was frightening and I was alone at home. It was the 24th of December. I had never been afraid of thunder or lightning, but today, there was something about it.
I felt terribly lonely and alarmed. Something was not right, but exactly what was wrong, I couldn’t put a finger on it.
Mum had gone to pick her dress from the seamstress but she had kept unreasonably long.
My dad left us when I was nine years and for the past six years, my mum and I have been taking care of each other. In as much as I longed for a father, I despised fathers.
I thought my dad was cruel to have left us without any notice. We woke up one morning and he was gone.
We placed ads in newspapers and made announcements on radio and television. Each day we looked forward to his coming back home but he never did. There was no trace of him. Eventually, we learnt to live without him.
The day he left, it was a rainy day, just like this one.
I called my mum’s phone to find out what had kept her. It was off. I waited for about five minutes and called again. This time, it went through. I did the sign of the cross and waited for her to pick the call.
“Hello Dilly, I’ve been trying to reach you. are you okay," Mum asked disturbingly.“Mum calm down I’m fine. I was rather worried about you. Where are you?” “I’m on my way. The seamstress delayed me. I will be home soon.”
I heaved a sigh of relief, stretched in the sofa and covered myself with a cloth. I didn’t realise I had a headache until after the call. I dozed off in no time.
I woke in a startle and looked at the clock. It was 10:59 pm; two and a half hours when I last spoke with mum on phone and she was still not back.
I grabbed the phone to call her and I saw eight missed calls from an unknown number. I ignored the missed calls and dialled my mum’s number. It was off. I called again but this time I wasn’t lucky. I dropped the phone and broke down in tears.
As I cried, I prayed. I wanted my mum safe. She was the only person I had now and couldn’t bear to lose her.
Then I remembered the missed calls. Could there be a connection between the calls and my mum? I picked the phone again and called the number. A lady picked it.
“Hello, good evening. This is Trinity Hospital.”
I dropped the phone and for a moment, I went blank. It was only after 15 minutes that I mustered courage to call back. Whatever the case, I needed to know what was wrong.
“Hello my name is Dilly and you called my number earlier, about an hour ago.” “Hi Dilly, are you related to Mrs Opoku in any way?” “Yes she is my mum. Is there a problem? Is she okay?”
“We found her ID card together with your address and phone number in her purse. I’m sorry but we do have a little problem. Your mum got involved in an accident and is currently unconscious. The good news is that she escaped without any injury.”
I was surprised at myself that I didn’t burst into tears. Somehow, the tears knew I needed to stay strong for my mum.
Although it was late and very risky, I packed a few clothes for my mum and myself, locked the door and picked a cab to the hospital.
When I got there, mum was conscious and fine but the doctors insisted we stay and leave in the morning to be sure there were no further complications.
Apparently, the accident was a head-on collision caused by my mum and the other driver was also in the same hospital. He also survived with a cut on his head.
After mum was discharged in the morning, she suggested we see the other victim for her to render an apology, pay his bills and leave her call card for them to discuss the cost of repair of the damage.
Mum screamed as soon as she entered the ward. I rushed to the ward to see what the problem was. I collided into mum who collapsed right in front of me. I screamed for the nurses who rushed her back to her ward. I went back to the other ward to find out what the problem was and I saw it too.
I was dumbstruck. It was dad! Although he left when I was only nine, he hadn’t changed much. The only difference was a few strands of grey hair. I cried. I actually wept – both tears of joy and pain.
I don’t know when I run into his arms and both of us cried. Through his sobs, I could hear him say I’m sorry. Not long, I felt mum’s arms around me and together, all three of us wept.
Christmases have come and gone but in all my 15 years, I have never known such a joyous Christmas. Dad was back and that was all that mattered.