“Just wait and you will see: He’s going to come back home.” She said to me, her brown eyes glittering with the determination she always shown when things happened to stand in her way.
“Come sit with me and let’s watch Bugs Bunny.” I said. She looked at the TV, then at me then her eyes went back to the streets, desperate not to miss the appearance of her friend. I just couldn’t understand how a stranger could have such an impact on her so quickly, and to be honest I didn’t like it. If it wasn’t for my mother who had recommended him to me, I wouldn’t have accepted. This was our only time together and Francis was standing in my way to have a good time with my daughter. I prayed for him to not show up.
“Come on now, I thought Bugs Bunny was your favorite. Stop worrying about it, he’s going to come soon or later.”
“But what if something had happened to him, we should call 911.”
Honey, we are not calling 911, he must have had some family emergency and hasn’t had a chance to call”
“But it’s been 3 hours!”
“I know, but I’m sure he’s going to call anytime now.”
Well, I didn’t care if he did or not. For all intents, I hoped he didn’t show up today, now that I see how he has stolen the heart of my little girl. C’est ma fille apres tout.
“What do you say if I made you a sandwich?”
“Amani, what did I teach you?”
“That’s more like it”
I got up and let out a sigh as I saw her return faithfully to her post.
I didn’t know much about Francis and didn’t care either way. All I have heard from my mom is that he used to teach middle school French, English back home in a private school in Kinshasa. He also knew some Italian apart from speaking Swahili, Lega whenever he met my mom or someone from Kivu where I grew up. Now that I come to think about it: I didn’t any specific issue with him, but more generally with his entire generation and my mom’s generation. The generation that had the potential to make Congo one of the leaders in Africa, and screwed up dramatically. Now, they were telling us to pick the crumbs they left and build what they couldn’t or wouldn’t have done. It didn’t help that he looked my uncle who used to over exercise his powerful hand on my behind whenever I got in trouble.
Like a lot of other immigrants of all ages who ever come to United States, he was working two jobs and saving up for his family to come also. And as if it wasn’t enough, my mom talked me into paying him as a French tutor for her grand daughter who only spoke English to her. I still remember how happy she was when Amani was born. A healthy 9lbs brown little girl whose brown eyes seemed to dip inside you and melt you all over. Like her mother, Esther used to until we separated.
“Irreconcilable differences” was the word. I didn’t like it, but all I knew is that parenthood, new position in the company, life and whatever else you want to throw in got in the way and we slowly stopped doing the things that had held us together till then until it was too late. It’s been 2 years now, we have been separated and been sharing Amani. More like, I have been trying to stay involved in my daughter’s life since her irritatingly lovable new boyfriend Jack and Esther were winning quickly my daughter’s heart . And as if it wasn’t enough, Francis who just got here already had her wrapped in his little finger. I mean he was an excellent tutor and Amani was making visible leaps, but I thought at times of cancelling these lessons just so I may have more time with her. N’oses meme pas y penser, had said Esther, her French heavily peppered with a British accent, from growing up in London with her parents who were diplomats from Ivory Coast.
“If money is a problem, I will be happy to take care of it.”
“It’s not about the money.”
“Then what’s the problem because Amani is enjoying her lessons and he seems like a gentleman to me.”
I knew where this was going because I could feel this knot forming in my stomach so I reassured her that it was nothing and hang up.