As published in M208 Convocation Magazine
The hallway lights sneaked into her room and fell nicely on her silky head. She stirred as I watched, and those big brown eyes sparkled into life.
“You left this morning without saying bye-bye,” she grumbled groggily while rubbing her eyes.
I’m sorry Sweetheart, but you were still sleeping then… I replied softly, taking small steps to her bed. She shifted herself into a corner, making just ample space for me to squeeze onto that tiny pink bed. What time did you wake up this morning? I asked, as I bent down to pick up her matching blanket that had gotten kicked off earlier in the night.
9 o’ clock…
Eh... didn’t you have school this morning? “No… the teachers were helping the church with a big party..”
I got into her bed and tucked the blanket over her. Wrapping my arms around her tiny body, she snuggled up and nestled her head in the folds of my arms. “Where were you this morning, Daddy?” This morning Daddy went to the hospital really early, at 5am, when you were still fast, fast asleep. I patted her head. “How come?”
There was an old uncle who had a very bad heart attack. Daddy had to go and save him, if not he would have died. “Did you have to open him up?” Yup! We opened up his chest, fixed his heart, and then closed his chest. Remember the time we opened up Honey, your little bear-bear, to fix her tummy because she had stopped making funny noises?
A slight giggle, a gentle nod over my chest. A sign that she was slowly lulling back into her own world.
Something like that Sweetheart.
“So… did you save the uncle?”
Yup! Daddy managed to save him. The uncle’s wife was so sad before that. She was crying a lot, you know.
“How is aunty?” She’s fine, dear. And she’s very thankful that uncle’s alive.
I tucked my nose into the soft mess of brown hair and took in a deep breath. That smell has remained the same ever since the very day she was born. Like baby soap, wildflowers and honey all rolled into one. If innocence had a fragrance, this would be it.
“Daddy?” Those brown eyes gazed up into my face.
Yes, Sweetheart. I pushed a lock of hair behind her ear.
“Why must you save the world?”
I gave her a gentle peck on her forehead. I had always told her that a doctor’s job is to ‘save the world’ - it was so much easier to get her to imagine a doctor as a superhero stopping the good guys from dying than to try and explain how a doctor manages sick and difficult patients.
Because if Daddy doesn’t save the world, then there will be many small boys and girls like you who will have no Daddy or Mummy at all, poor thing, right?
“But you are always not home,” she sulked.
I sat up in her bed and propped her into my lap. You know, many years before Daddy met Mummy, I began. I was young and very active. Daddy would always be working in the hospital, from morning till night, and sometimes Daddy wouldn’t even go home. Po-po (Grandmother in Chinese) would call and call and sometimes scold Daddy but Daddy still wouldn’t listen! The sweetheart giggled softly. “Daddy naughty!”
I laughed. Ya… Daddy was quite naughty. But after a while Daddy got sooooo tired and felt like giving up. Daddy complained to God that it’s not fair, that Daddy is so tired and doesn’t want to be a doctor anymore. Then I told God that I wanted a home, so that when I’m tired I can go back and get rest…
Eh, you slept already ah?
“No… Look!” She looked up at me with eyes pried open on purpose, and we both chuckled.
“Then what did God do?”
Well.. God gave me a home! I answered cheerfully. God gave me first your Mummy, after that God gave Daddy and Mummy the most beeeeeautiful princess in the world.
“But that is not a home…”
She looked into my eyes. Not even blinking or flinching, her big brown eyes full of anticipation, waiting for me to say more.
That’s the best part. God showed me that home is where the heart is. And God put you – I gently tapped my finger on her nose – inside my heart. I held her tiny hand and rested it on my heart. And you will always remain there. Forever.
She smiled, that lovely smile that makes me feel greater than any superhero-doctor I could possibly be, and sank down lazily into my arms again. Rocking her to sleep, the sweet voice asked again,
“Daddy, will you come home tomorrow?”
Princess, I reassured, you are the number one reason I come home every night.
And like many other nights, I put her to sleep with my arms around her and my heart melted all over her -- knowing that the next morning, my wife would probably find both me and my Sweetheart in her room, on that little bed under the tiny pink blanket.