“You should be more concerned,” Rebecca Kuti began with a loud yell.
Her husband who was only a few metres from her looked up at her strangely, wondering if she was talking about the hero who died in the movie playing on TV but they weren’t watching. They had far more important issues to deal with and the one thing, which topped the list, was the unusual pounding sound coming from their daughter’s workspace.
“About what?” he asked through clenched teeth, trying to control his anger.
“It’s probably just Sophie working again.”
“You need to talk to her, Chief. She needs to stop this odd habit of her picking one hobby today and losing interest in it the next day. Sophie can’t focus for ten minutes straight…she gets easily distracted.”
He took a deep breath and hesitated for a while. “Wasn’t she taking photography classes last week…when did she pick up carpentry of all the skills in the world?”
“It’s not a skill she says, it’s a hobby.” She corrected. Pronouncing hobby with enough emphasis to spell out her newfound hatred for it. “Why does she keep doing this?”
Chief looked ignorant and lost just like her. He seemed to mull on a thought for a while before clearing his throat to yell again. Rebecca waited patiently for him to fully end his thinking process before raising an eyelid in his direction. Her composure was screaming a desire for him to answer the rhetorical question she had asked.
“You should talk to her. She is your daughter.” He finally uttered.
“And you think I haven’t tried? That relentless daughter of yours only listens to herself and the determined spirit rooted in her alone!” She bellowed.
“There is no need to be this tensed up about it. She will definitely quit in three or four days give or take. She is only fascinated by it for now. How long has she been at it?”
“Today is Saturday, right?” He nodded hopefully. “It’s only the third day.”
Rebecca suddenly glowered at his outburst, her face stiffened so hard and her dark pair of eyes grew colder in an instant, a stranger in the room would have thought they were having a fight. She kept this look on and he on his part ignored her as best as he could. At last, the horrifying and deafening noises finally stopped after a loud crash.
“What was that?” Chief snapped.
“She must have broken her hammer again. That happens a lot. It’s the only time there is ever silence in the house. Only God knows what goes on in that workshop she calls a room.”
“How I wish she could go back to learning sign language. Those days were my favorite days in this house.”
She rolled her eyes, slightly offended. "This is no time for sarcasm, Dear. Besides, she only did that for a week.”
“Well, it was a memorable week for me. Until she dropped it for gardening. Oh, those poor plants! They never had a chance of survival.”
“You are lucky you were on a trip when she took up photography. Teni and I were her unpaid and oblivious models. She kept going around with a camera for almost two weeks I was so sure she would stick to it, but sadly, out flew photography and in came, videography. I wonder where she sees all these hobbies from.”
“The internet obviously. It’s the source of everything these days. Conspiracy theories, gossips, cybercrimes, and articles on how to drive your family bonkers.”
She chuckled lightly, a speck of gleam returning in her black eyes. If there was only one person who knew Rebecca completely, it was her husband. He knew when she was truly angry, upset and even frustrated by observing simple gestures like a cold reception or eye-rolling.
A sound suddenly came from behind, startling them.
They didn’t need to turn though, their precious daughter Sophie, a much younger version of Rebecca, clumsily walked past them with a curt hello. She looked nothing like her mother except for the same black eyes that kept fidgeting around. As she scanned every corner of the living room like a robot high drunk on caffeine, her legs and hands also joined in the search. The stunned Mr Kuti and the not so surprised Rebecca, who knew what Sophie was aimlessly looking for, watched her fretfully. They were both convinced their daughter had a problem.
“Sophie dear, what are you looking for?” Rebecca probed with a cheerful smile forcibly plastered on her face.
“Nothing, ma. Just my hammer.” She shared, without lifting her head from underneath the chair she was searching.
“It’s in your workshop. Second drawer, to the left of your plumbing tools.”
She grumbled, stared, next, she stamped the floor. She had something to say, like correcting her mother it was a workspace, not a workshop, yet she kept mute.
“Thank you.” She finally said after a pause as she trotted away. Her eyes instantly fell on her Dad though, and he was taken aback. She hadn't noticed him before. “Oh, Dad! I didn’t know you were around.”
“Clearly. You were quite busy in there.” He teased. “What is it you are building this time?”
“I am busy with furniture now. I stopped my architecture class.”
“Why? You were so keen on learning it then you practically forced me to pay your online fees. It’s such a shame you quit it. The carpentry you are doing now, why don’t you sit down and tell me all about it.”
Rebecca signalled to him, shaking her head several times to dissuade him from complementing Sophie, but he didn’t notice her. When he finally did, Sophie looked excessively excited to be annoyed.
“Sorry, Dad. As much as I would love to chat, I have a class in two minutes.”
“How about we talk over dinner?”
She mused on it for a second, then gave her consent with a shrug of her shoulders. Just as she had left them baffled when she came in, she left the same way. Rebecca looked at her husband, her brow raised as high as it could go and her expression held back her annoyance.
“You know what she needs,” he abruptly aired, thrilled as he had just solved the world's greatest enigma.
He groaned, clearly annoyed by her oblivion. “No! she needs a job.”
“But she has a job already!"
“I meant a real job where she goes to work at seven in the morning then close by seven. she takes her dinner, go straight to bed and voila, it’s morning and she has to do the routine all over again. there is no way she will have time for herself, let alone some hobby she will certainly lose interest in.”
Rebecca nodded in concord, the idea started to sound a lot better the more she thought about it. Sophie already had a Master’s degree in Cancer Biology and two Bachelor’s in microbiology and Sociology, the latter being a course she adamantly took against everyone’s advice. With her Master’s, Rebecca was sure she could easily get a job in a research institute or a pharmaceutical company. She recalled her friend’s brother was a director at the NRI and all she had to do was talk to her about it, surely, Bami wouldn’t turn her down, considering the fact she is Sophie’s godmother. She sighed at the thought of her dilemma eventually resolved, but like all bad dreams, her inner voice reminded her she was counting her chicks way too early.
“Sophie hates jobs that confines her to a position. She will never agree to it.” She declared.
He mused on this for a minute or less, then finally gave up. He was short of ideas just as he came to terms with the fact that there was no other way to help her. Rebecca mentioned a therapist Sophie had seen years before after the incident and the smile on his face vanished in seconds like the winds. He shook his head, seemed to consider it again, then shook it even more. Although this meant his disapproval to the idea, she wasn't deterred by it. She reminded him of the fact that without the said doctor, they would have lost Sophie then.
"That bastard took advantage of her!" He exploded, exhaling hot air through his nose. "She was only fourteen."
Her defensive instinct kicked in. "Sophie said it wasn't his fault. He had nothing to do with it."
"Well, she can't see him again. That's decided."
"It's not, Babatunde! She will definitely see a therapist even if it isn't Dr Yaqub. Sophie's condition needs therapy. We have to help her."
"That was what you said when she went to see him. Now, look where that got us to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. She's fine."
"Where it got us?" She snickered. "Where were you when she had dementia praecox and was acting crazy? Where were you, Babatunde? Where were you?! Let me tell you where you were...you were gone as always. I had to see my only daughter suffer through pain and depression. Sometimes she spent weeks shut in her room without talking to anyone. Other times she would just explode without reasons. She was the one with the illness but I was the one losing my sanity. Without Dr Yaqub, we would have lost her."
He sputtered, losing his composure as well as his words. He knew he hadn't just touched a scar in his wife but carelessly pricked it with a needle, saying one more insensitive word would be peeling off the scars. They had been through a lot before and after the separation which was solely his fault, and regardless of their opinions of who had the worst end of it, Sophie did.
She started suffering from schizophrenia during the first year of their fights yet they failed to see all the signs till it was late. In his view, if they had only noticed it on time, she wouldn't have had to see the therapist and wouldn't have tried to commit suicide. He must have done something to her, he was sure. He could see the distant look in her eyes then but couldn't fully read what it meant. She wouldn't say a word about her sessions with him, he just knew something was wrong. The fatherly instincts in him told him there was more to what they could see.
Fortunately, he returned in time to stop the sessions and Sophie got better on her own. It took her five years, depriving her of teenage life, but she fought it hard.
He was proud of her. He had always been. Of all his children from his two wives and numerous concubines, Sophie meant a lot to him. She was his smart, intelligent and ever curious daughter who wanted to know everything about the universe. They were inseparable and bonded over each new idea she had, toys she bought or books she read. Everything was great...till his wife found out about his affair. It leads to a series of fights and bad blood and finally, a separation seemed right. He was tired of the fights and so was she. They were so selfish they never considered the possibility of it negatively affecting their daughter and almost ruining her life.
She started the habit of picking up several hobbies after then. From writing, singing, learning to play instruments, sky diving, basketball, rock climbing, hiking and several others she never managed to stick to. They had tried futilely to make her give up this habit, sadly, they couldn't. During one of their rare chat, she had let it slip that trying out new hobbies gave her a reason to live. That without them, she would have nothing. And for a father who loved his daughter deeply, hearing her say that, was like being stabbed by ice. The numbness leaves and the coldness eventually disappears, yet the pain remains.
If humans could travel back to the past, he would have given up everything for a chance to correct his mistake and saved his daughter.
Although he had been atoning for them for seven years after returning to his family, he still had a long way to convince them he had changed.
"As long as she wants to." He finally conceded.
Loud pounding noises suddenly came from upstairs and they guessed Sophie had started another class.