Shahidi my love,
You are just a small bump unborn, in four months you are brought to life. You might be left with my flair but you will have your mother’s eyes.
When your mother told me that you were coming, I knew it was a miracle. Mostly because I died for ten minutes before being brought back with a defibrillator. A modern day resurrection. But I promise to be there for you, never to let you go. My blood, with your mother’s soul.
I will be there when you are born. Your mother will scream in labour, and I will be terrified in the next room. I think they call it the male labour ward. Mum will curse and threaten to light up my giblets with fire and gasoline. In the heat of the moment, I too will agree to have a vasectomy. Obviously, will never see that through. Instead I will blame Sauti Sol’s Nishike and whoever created Xanax and Aspirin for headaches. But when you come, it will be joy and cake. Will hold you in my arms for the first time, covered in swaddling clothes. Like Rafiki, I will lift you up into the light as I ask Siri to play me the Lion King Soundtrack. You are my Simba. The cold fluorescence of the theatre will turn into a warm incandescent glow as the midwives break into dance like a Gujarati Musical.
I will tell you stories of my exploits when you will be five years. I will be your subject and you will be my princess. We shall have tea parties with me as the jester, always making you laugh. You’d ask for a pony but not on my writer’s budget. So I will give you piggy-backs. You will ask me hard questions – What happens when people die. I will tell you they go to live with the stars so that they watch you while you sleep. And so I will stay up at night with you to look at the constellations until your mother tells us to come in for dinner. We will be eating and then you will ask where babies come from. I will choke. Literally. ‘Go ask your mother.‘ Your mother will take a Polaroid of us. And I will whisper into your ears, “Do not tell your mother, I love her so much, but you are my favourite. ” I will write that on the Polaroid and put it below your pillow.
You will be a teenager. God knows how much you will hate me. I will embarrass you in front of your friends. They will say that I am weird and you will cover your face. But I will always be there for you anyway. Even though you would wish you could file a restraining order against your own dad. You will start listening to AC/DC and Kiss. I will die again. You will be a monster. Then you will bring home Jax. I will really hate him. His tattoos, his flannel shirt, Metallica chain, his tufty beard, his ripped jeans, his face, his existence. I will obviously hire my cop friend to tail him. My PI will learn that Jax is a cheat. It will break my heart to tell you. So I will let it be and have you find out yourself. You will be broken. But I will pick up the pieces nevertheless.
Finally you will meet Tim. He will charm you off your feet and come home for the first time during prom night. A nice guy – in tux. But I will take no chances. Will open the door with my fencing sword. And when he sits down, I will make sure that there are nunchucks under his cushion. He will take them out and I will casually pretend that I had misplaced them. Then I will spiral into a rant of how I have been learning Ninjutsu. Obviously I would know nothing about it considering I just googled martial arts styles before he came in. And the nunchucks were borrowed. When you leave for the party, I will ask Tim to hold on for a minute as I get details for the chaperone. I will ask him in confidence if he watches Game of Thrones, as I write a list of all emergency contacts I know – the police, ambulance, fire-brigade, the National Guard, CIA, NSA, FBI, Scotland Yard, Area 51, Bermuda Triangle. Tim will tell me that yes he does watch it, and the list is unnecessary because he will take good care of you. But the list is his. He would need it. Because if he tried to break my daughter’s ‘wall’, I would descend on him like Jon Snow.
Soon you will go off to college and mum would get me to let you go. I will write to you every day, but never make it to the Postmaster General. People read emails. I will leave you a bunch of voice-mails telling you how well we are doing, and that mum and I miss you. You will call back a couple of times but you wouldn’t be in a position to talk because you would always be in-between classes. But then you will always make it home for the holidays. Until you don’t. You will go to meet Tim’s family for Christmas and when I see you next, you will be engaged.
I will cry, your mother will be happy. Tim is a good guy with a decent job. On your wedding, before I walk you down the aisle, you will take me aside, with tears in your eyes and hand me an envelope, tell me to open it. It would be the Polaroid we took 20 years before. You always kept it. And you wrote on the back, You will always be my favourite too, Dad. I will break down into tears. A daughter should never watch her father cry. Someone should get me some tissue, the snot is too much.
And when I die (for real this time) you will cry and embrace your mother. And you will tell her that I am with the stars looking down at them when they sleep.
But until then, you remain a small bump unborn, and in four months you are brought to life. And I cannot wait, we have much to talk about.
Your expectant Dad