Well, we had quite an interesting introduction to season 4, didn’t we? I bet we’re itching to know what comes next. For this episode, though, let’s have some downtime. It’s the big man’s day for this one.
“Alright, honey, you can come down now!”
Stretched out on the Dolphyne matrimonial bed, Daniel smiled as he heard those words from downstairs. Lifting up his upper body, he stretched a bit, letting out his regular groan as he felt bones crack in all the right places. Then he looked at the date.
The day he came out into the world about four and a half decades ago.
He already knew what was coming once he got out of that bed and walked downstairs. It never got old, though. A little family tradition they had started about a decade ago, just about the time the twins were born. It had become trite practice for him to remain in the room and just stretch out and relax as Larissa and the children prepared a nice big breakfast. Just as well that he always had the first week of January off from work; ample time for the family to give him the treat they wanted.
As he had lain on his bed, he had been checking the WhatsApp status list. As expected, the kids had his pictures all over, with accompanying wishes and praises. Diamond had posted about 12 alone, Oscar about 4, Toby 6. Kwame too had gotten in on the act, posting about 3 of his pictures. Inasmuch as he wasn’t into social media things so much, he couldn’t deny it felt good seeing all those lovely things said about him.
He stepped out of bed, looked up and whispered, “Thank You Jesus for a brand new day,” and bent his head slightly to pray. When he was done, he moved to his wardrobe where he threw on a T-shirt and shorts before moving out of the room.
Walking downstairs, he heard excited whispers as they could hear his footsteps. He smiled and shook his head. Typical.
As he entered the dining room…
Everyone in the house sat around the table, cheering out their felicitations as lovely plates of waakye, well complemented with the necessary condiments, sat on the table before each person. At the head of the table sat his plate, appropriately covered.
Daniel laughed. “Thank you all, my beautiful people. I see Samia was on time as usual.”
“Of course she’d be. She naaa, she’s gotten used to me calling her on the 7th to get your special birthday waakye ready,” Larissa responded as she pulled out the chair for him to sit, seated on the right seat closest to his. “Anything to make sure Mr. Daniel Kwadwo Dolphyne’s day gets off to the right start.”
He smirked as he looked into his favourite pair of eyes. “Thank you, my queen. I appreciate it,” he said gently, landing a kiss on her forehead as he took a seat.
Lifting the cover off his plate, he nodded in satisfaction. “Samia on point as always with her edziban.”
“Hehehe, Samia di33, no size ooo! Best waakye in the nation, bar none!” Oscar agreed.
“Alright, people, let’s bow our heads and pray, so we can start eating.”
Upon Larissa’s order, all heads went down, as she prayed for the birthday boy and the food before them. Once a resounding Amen followed in response to her prayer, the table was buzzing.
Taking a spoonful of his food, Daniel looked at the activity ongoing before him.
Oscar trolling Diamond as usual about her forehead. Toby taunting Larissa by trying to take her bottle of Auntie Maggie’s sobolo, and getting ‘deadly threats’ in response. Kwame questioning the twins on why they didn’t like plantain with their waakye.
Daniel shook his head.
A crazy bunch he had in his house.
But what would life be without them?
“Oh please! We all know the media will do anything to make Messi look good. Paint him as some holy little man with no flaws, while making Cristiano look like some agent of the devil. Every day, Messi is humble, C-Ro is arrogant. Hoh, massa!”
While Larissa and Diamond were out for the birthday cake and some other little snacks for the afternoon, the boys and Serwaah were seated on the porch, having some quality time together. The topic was football, and with time, the conversation had shifted to the never-ending debate of Messi vs Ronaldo.
The birthday man was a full-time Ronaldo fanboy, and was totally unashamed to make it clear.
“But Daddy, Ronaldo does tend to have some form of arrogance about him, and it’s pretty annoying,” Oscar interjected.
Daniel shot him a look. “Oscar, arrogance is a part of the game. Champions always have some air of arrogance about them, and it’s what makes them legendary mpo. In any case, please, you lack the locus to complain. Do you know the aura of arrogance your beloved Terry and Lampard had back in their unstoppable days?”
“Exactly, Uncle Danny!” Kwame agreed. Of course, whichever side Oscar was on, he would surely find himself on the other side. “Arrogance in moderation is essential. It gives you that edge. It’s not for wimps like Messi who quit their national teams coz they didn’t win a tournament.”
“Oh Lord, are you still going on about that?” Oscar groaned, his hand on his face.
“But he returned, didn’t he? Doesn’t that account for something, at least?” Anasah pitched in.
“Not a cruddy chance, Anas! If he was serious, he wouldn’t have quit at all. It even annoys me they went to beg him to come back. He should’ve just remained in retirement, with that his easy life in Barcelona. When you say he has it easy there, Barca fans don’t want to understand.”
“Hoh, Kwame, are you even minding them?” Daniel scoffed. “I’m telling you, if he leaves, he’ll become beans! That’s why he doesn’t want to go anywhere else. Comfort zone things nkoaa. When he’s with Argentina sef, what aaa does he do?”
“Nahhh, Daddy, I think you’re being a little too harsh on Messi,” Toby joined in. “I mean, look at the 2014 World Cup. He won the Best Player award and got to the final.”
Daniel looked dismissively at him. “Oh please. FIFA just wanted to appease their darling love child for not winning. After the group stages, what again did he do? Tweakai! The final that you should really step up to the plate and deliver, he was still doing lalasulala things. Abeg, don’t bring that one in there!”
“Ei, Daddy!” Oscar laughed. “This one di33, you’ve taken it personal ooo. Ei. What did poor Messi do to you?”
“Poor for the where?” Daniel snorted. “The man has enough money to buy some entire countries, you say what? He doesn’t bore me, he’s just way too overrated. Messi fanboys always disturbing us when he’s doing the easy easy things. Meanwhile too, outside of Barca, we don’t see anything. At least Ronaldo has a European championship title to his name, and he wins wherever he goes. From England to Spain to Italy. That’s what you call a true great of the game.”
“Uncle Danny, you have said it all,” Kwame said, nodding in agreement. “Facts are facts. Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest ever to do it. Point blank period. As for Messi, I rate Ronaldinho and Kaka higher than him. Hoh, even Neymar is better for me.”
“Herh, herh, herh, what kind of disrespect is that? Whadduyu mean?”
As Oscar, Toby and Anasah moved to vehemently disagree with what they termed ‘utter disrespect’ to the Argentine, Daniel took note of Serwaah, who had her head on the arm of her chair, looking quite bored. Nobody needed to guess that this fierce debate was about as exciting to her as staring at a dead light bulb.
“Awww, my baby princess,” Daniel cooed, the boys suddenly halting their argument to look at her. “Feeling bored by our little banter?”
She nodded as she yawned.
“But you kraaa, you’re not into football, are you?” Anasah asked her.
She lifted her head briefly. “Not really. Just this one player I really like… uhhh… Theo Walcott or something.”
Oscar rolled his eyes. “Ugh. Literally every girl I know is in love with Theo Walcott. Literally every single girl I know.”
“But like who should they love?” Toby taunted. “Troy Deeney anaa Carlos Tevez?”
A moment of silence ensued…
… then they all burst into fits of laughter.
“Alright, kids, gather round the table. Cake time!” Larissa announced.
The six young people enthusiastically moved to the dining table. Surrounded by about four bottles of different varieties of non-alcoholic wine, was a large red velvet cake, with a lovely inscription on its face: Happy Birthday, Mr. Daniel Dolphyne.
“Ooooooh, red velvet! My favourite!” Toby cooed as he stared at the culinary delight before them. “This isn’t Kareena, right, Maa?”
Larissa rolled her eyes as she walked towards them with a cutting knife. “Obviously not. Aren’t you already used to the creamy nature of their cakes? This is from some girl bi. Gracie told me about her, so I decided to try her hustle small.”
“Oh, not bad. It looks gooooooood, though,” he reiterated, making dreamy eyes at it.
“I know. Now make way for the birthday boy.”
“Here comes the birthday boy!” Diamond announced, as the rest responded with funny cheers.
Daniel shook his head as he came to stand in their midst. “You guys are crazy.”
“Alright, so, the floor is yours, Mr. Dolphyne,” Larissa said. “And Anas, no smart comments about the floor,” she added, the mischievous glint in her youngest son’s eyes not overlooked.
Daniel cleared his throat.
“Well, uh, I know we’re all impatient to get some cake, so… I’ll try and make this as brief as possible. What more can I say? It’s not been the smoothest of rides, but God has helped me keep my head above water, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve felt I’m in over my head, throughout these years. Whether it’s at work or home. Many times, I’ve felt pretty clueless on what to do, yet I’ve somehow, by God’s grace, been able to get through it.
“I remember when Lari was pregnant with Dee. There were nights I couldn’t sleep; all I could think about was whether I would succeed or flop miserably in my duties as a father. Honestly, those thoughts of fear were some of the most crippling periods. It really frightened me to imagine being a failure of a father. It took a while before I opened up to Lari about it.
“It’s moments like these that remind me those fears had no foundation. I know I’ve not been perfect in any way. There are some major gaffes and errors I’ve made that still try to haunt me and knock me down. But… I think the good ones totally outweigh the bad. I always call to mind the good times whenever that happens. You know, the little, little things. Singing to you guys when you were younger before putting you to bed, watching your happy faces whenever I came to pick you from school… watching all those Disney movies with you…”
Toby snickered. “I remember how Serwaah was crying when she watched Mufasa die in ‘The Lion King’. The girl literally grabbed you by the waist and sobbed.”
Daniel gave him a side eye. “As if you didn’t cry yourself. All of you did. Not a single one of you had dry eyes at that scene. And I’ve watched it about 8 to 9 times with each of you over the years, so I know.”
Serwaah snickered, a look of vindication on her face.
“Anyways, so yeah, these little things have kept me going, and uh, I’m glad to still be here. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my field of work, and being a counsellor at church is also a pretty great honour. But ultimately, I’m proud of what I have here: a beautiful wife and wonderful children, and I hope I’ve done what I should to serve you all.”
“Awwww, yes you have, Daddy,” Diamond assured, wrapping her arms around him. “You’re the best daddy in the world, and we wouldn’t dream of having any other.”
“I agree. I love you so much, Daddy. You’re the world’s best daddy,” Serwaah agreed, also attaching herself to him.
In no time flat, the boys also echoed their agreement and gave him light hugs and taps on the back. They would’ve gone for the group hug, but being in the middle of a six-person group hug wasn’t exactly something Daniel found fun, and they knew that.
“Thank you. Thank you all,” Daniel said gratefully. “Now, time to cut this cake and have ourselves a lil good time!”
It had been four to five hours of enjoyment in the Dolphyne household, with cake, non-alcoholic wine, spring rolls and soft drinks in abundance. Now the day was done; the children had retired to bed after thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Daniel sat on the couch, reflecting on the little speech he had given before the cutting of the cake, and the responses he got. He smiled and lifted his head to the sky. “Thank you dear Lord Jesus. You definitely come through for me with all those little reminders whenever the fears of failure come around to try and scare the crap out of me. Thank You for this beautiful family.”
He heard the sound of the microwave from the kitchen. That was Larissa, probably heating some of the samosas. She had a thing for liking them hot.
He got up and walked to the kitchen. Right in front of the microwave, her back turned to him, stood Larissa. He made his way to her. “Hey, you,” he murmured, tapping her on the butt.
She turned to face him, a tired but satisfied look on her face. “Hey Daddy.”
“Had a good time?”
“Oh, most definitely. It’s been a great day, no doubt.”
“Wonderful. I’m glad it’s been a good day.”
“Uh-huh. And listen to me, baby,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck, “you might not be perfect, but one thing is for sure. You are a good man. A good father. And a good husband. Don’t ever let the mistakes you’ve made make you feel like you aren’t. Got that?”
Daniel nodded. “You know I almost wanted to mention the Tarzan-Clayton thingy as one of my regrets, but I decided there was no sense in saying something that would hurt Kwame.”
“Exactly. We fought about it and you apologized years ago. And it was between just us two, so it’s best kept as such. The past is not the present, in any case.”
They both laughed softly, then looked into each other’s eyes, and after a moment, locked lips.
Upon separating, Larissa had a familiar naughty look on her face. “Wanna go down to the basement? I got a …very special gift for you down there.”
Daniel smirked. “Lord, I love it when you tease me like that.”
She laughed as he lifted her in his arms and began to move towards the door leading to their basement.
Just then, the timer on the microwave came to an end. They both looked at it, then at each other.
“Wanna have those samosas first?” he asked.
“No, you silly boy. I wanna Marvin Gaye and get it on now. They can wait till we’re done.”
“Yes, ma’am. Let’s move.”
Hehehe, some spicy birthday stuff is going down in that basement! And I think those of you who love Messi will probably like Daniel a little less after that. Anyways, that was an interesting episode. We get back to the major action tomorrow!