Most mid-weeks, I go to pick my little lass Chelsea from her kindergarten, because I don’t live with her mom. Chelsea turned five exactly one month and a day ago.
Invariably, I’ll get there a little after two pm, and inevitably, she will run towards me shrieking ‘Tonnyyy’ in delight, and fling herself into orbit for me to catch her as she holds me tight around the neck and I sniff her hair, and wonder if other little girls’ hair always smell of dust and Weetabix.
We’ll leave the school in a scooter, her tucked between the boda boda guy and her dad.
Chelsea used to ask me when I’d learn to drive ever since she saw my gleaming vehicle in a parking floor in South B a year and a half ago so I can take her to ‘Chaka Ranch’ but she no longer bothers.
She has already given up on her old man as hopeless in that area (memo to me – before August holidays, so we can go to Chaka Ranch).
On Wednesdays, though, we scoot straight to this huge public KNLS library with a lovely kids’ section downstairs, complete with books, toys and a play area. Mid-week, it’s often just the two of us there.
Chelsea will do her homework, often violently resisting my attempts at assistance. After all, her old man cannot even operate a motor vehicle, so what does he know? Besides, ever since she scored 300/300 ‘without rubbing’ in last term’s exams, she believes she is Miss Einstein.
She does indulge me by letting me read her any random story book in the library.
At 4pm, we’ll leave the library for the Co-operative Bank next door, where she’ll ‘bank’ the shilling savings from money her mom has given her during the week, and which I’ll secretly top up at the teller’s. Her late grandma, whom I’m sure would have adored her, was a banker, and one of my few beefs with life is that the two never met, forever separated in time’s chasm by 17 years.
We will then walk to this ‘White Forest’ joint where Chelsea will sit and eat her well-earned cake, then enter ‘Tug-skis’ to do the weekly shopping of snacks and stuff which she happily commandeers from the car-cart that she ‘drives’ but which I push between the winding aisles.
I always complete the shopping by buying the day’s newspaper (Standard, of course, what else)?
And then it is goodbye.
At least till Sunday, when Chelsea will always hope it is sunny so we can ‘go Splash with Flo.’
On a recent Wednesday evening, Chelsea leaped out of the cart when we were almost done and came racing back with The Standard, saying ‘Tony, your new paper!’
I felt my eyes get moist right there, remembering a day two or so years ago when her chief interest in the gazeti was ripping it up into shreds. Once, her mom yelled at her to ‘stop tearing the paper.’
Chelsea stopped, picked up a slipper and tragically applied it to her bottom, saying: ‘I’ll beach you.’
I take my new paper in my hands and hug her as she struggles to break free and get back into the cart for our last lap to the cashier, wondering how long it will be before this Wednesday routine of ours will become another lovely memory of a childhood lost in the mist of time, bring a tear to an old man’s eye.
Happy Father’s Day weekend to all you dads!
It goes so fast.