The car turned the driveway into their compound and his heart fell miserably, he tried to focus on the light rain, in a bid to pay less attention to a voice in him yelling at him chiding him, for returning, that he should have escaped to somewhere else, and that he would not be welcomed at home and he would be ignored far worse than before. After all, they had lived well without you for eight months, the voiced screamed. He tried to shake it off by paying no attention to it.
The rain had turned into a light drizzle by the time his mother drove into the garage.
‘Hang on Sweetheart.’ She said and freed herself from her seatbelt and came out of the car walking to his side to open his door for him but he didn’t wait for her and opened the car and removing his seatbelt, came down too. He didn’t want to get used to a cozy feeling of love and comfort which was always a far cry from what he felt in the house. The rain touched him and he stuck out a tongue to take a drop in.
He started towards the house and stopped for a short while in front of the door and took a deep breath before opening the door and walking in. No one was in sight. No one had been there to welcome him.
So no one missed me, he mused sadly and walked past the lobby to the stairs and up towards his room. A long warm shower was what he needed to clear his mind and welcome himself home. A tub party he called it, with him and only him in attendance. The rain started again, in higher torrents this time.
The house felt so empty that he started to wonder what was going on; even his mother that had brought him home was not in sight. Was she making a lifetime out of parking the car properly? He thought with a scoff.
The sound of the rain hitting the roof made a rhythm that formed a song in his head.
Oh! Great. What a welcome home, he muttered.
The power supply had gone off just as he started to climb the staircase. He held onto the rail so he would not tumble as it was somewhat dark following the storm outside.
As he climbed the last stairs, he heard a soft music playing. It was one of his best. He followed the sound and entered the lounge upstairs, who else would play the songs the loved in the house? It was dark and he squinted to see.
The light came back on and he saw his whole family in the room smiling warmly at him. He couldn’t imagine how his mother had got past him.
On the T-shirts they wore was printed the words ‘Welcome home, ‘Nuel. We missed you.’ And the t-shirts were of his favourite colour, light brown. He realised that it was they who had turned off the lights.
He started to smile and stopped himself. It was not real. He was only imagining things.
He looked up at the very large plasma TV suspended on the wall. There was a video of pictures of his siblings, himself at the hospital and at home. He shook his head as if he was trying to wake himself up. But it was all real. He was being given a grand welcome home.
His little sister ran up to him and hugged him.
‘I missed you *Kuya.’ She said. (Kuya is a Tagalog word for older brother).
The whole family joined in the embrace. It was like a family reunion and Emmanuel knew he would not forget it in a very very long time.
They heard some noise downstairs and went down. All his school friends, (people he talked with, actually), save two, were there. The whole family and friends had prepared a giant welcome home party from him.
‘Today, I learned that sometimes, what we think and feel about the people around us are untrue, and given the chance, they would prove it to us,’ he wrote in his diary later that night. ‘See life differently, embrace it warmly, live and smile and laugh and love and love and love and don’t stop. There is always more to life than we could think or ever imagine. I love my family. They are the best thing that ever happened to me. I could give my life for them.’