Grace didn’t give him enough time to say anything else. When she turned around, Mangi was staring at her as he murmured unintelligible words into Emihle’s ear. Grace slid her phone into her bag, sighed, and eventually looked up again to meet her brother’s stare.

“Sorry about that.”

“It’s alright. He’s only looking out for you. Dad would be pleased.”

Grace tilted her head to the side.

“About dad…” she began cautiously.

Mangi shook his head, “We’ll talk later, Sis. Just not here…in front of her. For all she is concerned, we are a happy family.”

“She’s a baby,” Grace said in a surprised and somewhat edgy tone, “She can’t possibly understand us.”

Mangi shook his head again in disagreement. He gently placed the snoozing infant back in her cradle and draped the soft pink blanket over her tiny legs. For about two minutes, he stared silently at his daughter opening and closing her little fists as she slipped away into a peaceful sleep. He brushed her plump cheek and then looked up.

“Babies are a sensitive bunch. She can feel the tension.”

Grace sighed. “Fine then, she can feel the tension. But that doesn’t mean you can so easily postpone our talk. We need to talk, Mangi. I’m sick and tired of worrying about you and wondering why I have kept you at a distance for so long.” She stared intensely at him as she folded her arms. “I worried about you when you were gone. You took off without so much as a word of goodbye. All I had to go on before you moved was something dad told me and that wasn’t a lot. Hearing you were fine wasn’t enough.”

“I know,” he murmured, “But dad was telling the truth. I was doing fine. I still am.” He glanced at his sleeping daughter. “Tell you what,” he said slowly, “I’ll take you to dinner. We can talk then.” He gave her his most earnest look, “I want to get this sorted out just as badly as you do, Sis. Trust me.”

Grace nodded, as did her brother. They smiled briefly at each other before going back to staring at Emihle. Grace nodded imperceptibly again, satisfied. Before the day was over, she would sit down and talk with her estranged brother. If Mangi had proposed this half a year ago, she would have turned him down without a second thought. But now, as she watched her niece sleep so peacefully, she felt the need to become a family again. She wanted her brother back.

She reached out to pull the baby’s blanket a bit higher. She was an aunt now. It was her responsibility, both as an aunt and as an older sister, to repair her shaky relationship with her brother, and maybe even try to become a part of what he considered his personal heaven, his new family. She stiffened and relaxed again immediately. That was exactly what she was going to do. She was going to do her utmost to become part of Mangi’s paradise, his Eden.

And to think she didn’t even like babies…


Tell us: What did you think of this piece?