To read the story from the beginning go here.
In Syafika’s family the tradition for Christmas lunch was to have an early savory course, then open Christmas presents and then have dessert. Syafika liked that very much because the break between courses meant she could eat so much more – she didn’t have to save room for dessert. Syafika giggled to herself when she realized that now that Vincent wasn’t coming she wouldn’t have to worry about what he thought if she ate a lot.
When it was time to move to the lounge room to open presents Syafika was so blissfully full of perfectly roasted potatoes that she no longer cared what Vincent did or what her parents thought about her and Vincent. She didn’t even care when Ousman took the place next to her on the sofa.
Rose and Binta picked up presents from under the Christmas tree, read the labels and handed them to the right people. Everyone watched patiently and waited until all the gifts had been handed out before opening theirs.
When Rose or Binta found a present labelled “Amanda” or “Vincent” they put them aside without saying anything. Amanda was still in her room and unsurprisingly had refused to come out of her room for Christmas.
Syafika found that in her pile of presents was one from Amanda. It was a hair brush, which surprised Syafika because she needed one – hers had gone missing and she had been borrowing Rose’s hair brush for the last week.
Syafika looked at Ousman, who was being very quiet and noticed that he was delicately opening an envelope with a gold ribbon around it. Ousman took out a piece of paper and unfolded it. Syafika looked over Ousman’s shoulder and saw that it was a copy of a hand written letter. Ousman smiled as he read it, before turning to Syafika and saying proudly “Look! A letter from my Dad”. Syafika took the letter from Ousman and read it.
To my dear son Ousman,
You would not believe how happy I was to hear from you. I have recently been through an experience that no person should have to endure and am living in a place which offers only scraps of hope and comfort, but now that I know you exist I have a reason to continue.
If the circumstances were different in my country (which is also yours) then I would prefer you came to live with me there, but if it is really possible that we can meet then I would accept any way of doing that. I once promised myself that I would never return to your country but that was before I knew about you.
I hope your mother is well and that she appreciates how lucky she is to have you. You be a good boy and, god willing, we will soon meet.
With love from your Father,
The letter was signed in distinctly different handwriting to the rest of the letter and Syafika wondered whether Ousman’s father was illiterate. She thought it would be funny if he was.