Back when I was still a little girl, my father and I used to walk around the park by the river. We would often feed the ducks and play in the sandbox. He would push me on the swing and be my partner on the see-saw. And at the end of the day, we would watch the sunset and he would hug me tight as if I was her wife. Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
I wake up every morning by a kiss on my forehead telling me to wake up. He cooks me breakfast and he tries his best to make them delicious. He fixes my hair, braided or curled. He makes the best lunch in the whole universe! Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
When he comes home from work, I’d hug him tight so he would feel refreshed. I’d show him the stars that I got from school and he would tell me that I’m such a great girl. Since he’s too tired to cook in the evening, he would bring home food. Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
Every night, he makes me some warm milk. He’d tell me bedtime stories, too. And when I fall asleep, he’ll tuck me in the blanket and end the night with a kiss on the forehead. Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
He told me he won’t let me go. He told me he won’t ever leave me. He told me that he’ll love me more than any other boy would ever love me. He told me those when he was still here with me. Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
One day, he decided not to go to the park. One day, he did not kiss on my forehead. One day, he did not fix my hair. I don’t know what happened. Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
A woman was with him when he went home one Tuesday night. I don’t know who she was; I’ve never seen her in my life.
“Who is she, papa?” I asked.
“Anak, meet Catherine,” he said. “She’s my officemate.”
“Hello! Nice to meet you,” Catherine said as her hand touched my cheek. “Here, I brought you a gift.” She gave me a pink paper bag.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Open it,” she said. I opened the bag and was delighted to see the latest model of the Barbie doll that time.
“Wow! This is for me?” I cheerfully asked.
“Of course, it is yours!” she said. “I hope we would be good friends now.” She hugged me.
“Thank you, Ms. Catherine!” I smiled.
“Cathy, you could put your stuff in our bedroom,” my father said. “It’s in the second room to the left.”
“Papa, why is she here?” I asked my dad politely.
“She’s just here to help me cook our dinner,” he answered.
“Why didn’t you just bring home some food just like what you do?”
“Anak,” he kneeled down and touched my shoulder. “We can’t just eat take-home food every day. Papa needs to learn how to cook dinner.”
“But you know how to cook, papa. You were the one who cooks for mother when she was still–…”
“Why don’t you just continue what you’ve been doing a while ago and go play with your new doll?” he yelled.
“Ok, papa.” I did not to cry, but I was somehow hurt when he yelled at me. Who is that woman and why is she here? Why did he act like that so suddenly? Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
I don’t want to remember what happened next. I don’t even want to remember what happened before – mother packing things and leaving us behind. I don’t want to remember how my father did the same to me. I don’t want to remember the day he never came back. Why did he leave, you ask? Mom isn’t home, maybe that’s why.
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