Three words. That was it. By the time the girl realised what had just fluttered out of her mouth, she understood the consequences of her action. Another reality she also understood at such tender an age was the propensity to and correlation of human beings to the act of erring. The long period of quietness which ensued that uncouth sentence inside the white-walled classroom brought her back to the first time she had heard Mother utter those same words; a night she would always come to remember, when her and Mother had been wearing their prettiest and most flowery dresses before supper. These were the times the girl remembered, even at such tender an age, as the before days. From that summer night onward, her life had never quite regained the same feel to it, much the same way she would never look at Mother the same.
‘To err is human.’ – Mother had told her that night as a light breeze danced through the kitchen blinds. ‘But your father is superhuman at it. And now is time we move on.’
She was brought back to the classroom as the adult in the room demanded her to repeat herself. His defiant gaze fueled her teenage anger, along with a classroom full of onlookers whose puzzlement urged her on from every direction.
‘What did you say to me?’ – the teacher repeated.
She was brought back to that night on the cool kitchen tiles when Mother had wasted no time to remove Father from their lives – exile by scissors – by cutting him off every family picture on the magnetic frames covering their double-door fridge.
‘Remember this face doll, for you might forget it one day.’- Mother had said, as she finally picked up the phone to answer Father’s calls. The young girl had barely recognized Father’s voice through his apologetic sobbing. The last thing she had said to him was ‘Come home Daddy, we…’ – but upon hearing this, Mother had snatched the phone off her hands to speak to him. Mother had only uttered the exact same three words the girl would come to use against her teacher later on inside that classroom.
Her fiery gaze almost burned through the back of the teacher’s head, a man she had loathed even before his job appointment into her life. She had always been suspicious of this weird-looking man since his first (and late) arrival at Mother’s house not long after Father had left. But gradually the incomplete pictures on the fridge door started giving way to newer, happier pictures, where the paternal figure was reinstated by the man who would also turn out to be the girl’s authoritative influence at school.
But on that day the girl realized this was the date of Father’s birthday as she listened to the teachings of the man who had come to replace him. So, she defied the teacher’s gaze once more and repeated the three words Mother had used on that summer evening, yelling: ‘Don’t come home!’