It was a long day, a terribly long day for Daniella Estiamo, daughter of the great George Estiamo. That morning Daniella had gotten into an argument with her father over the appropriate use of funds. George had a way of over spending money on irrelevant things that did not go down well with Daniella. Maria Estiamo, being mother and wife respectively, had warned against the two of them working together as there was bound to be an explosion. They had ignored her counsel but this faithful day shone light on the words of the wise lady.
Lately George had been suffering from great depression and transferred all of that to Daniella that day. “Dad! Please listen to me. I don’t think it is in the best interest of our company…” Daniella did not complete her sentence before George interrupted. “Our company? Our? It is time you know the truth. You are not my daughter! This is not our but my company. I will do what I want with it.” It took him till the end of that statement to realize that he had thrown a secret worth many years out in the most inappropriate manner. Rachel, being George’s personal assistant, had her hand over her mouth in shock while the board members looked at George with faces which read ‘you cannot be serious’. Daniella was dazed. The statement ‘… you are not my daughter…’ was on repeat. She did not feel Rachel hold her or notice the board members shift their gaze to her. ‘I am not an Estiamo’, she pondered.
Suddenly, as if struck by lightning, she looked at her father, took steps closer to him, and looked him in the eyes, searching for something, the truth. It was true, the utterance was true. She saw the regret, the pain, the fear, all present in his eyes. George had a wont of saying mean things when he was angry but never had he done it to his daughter. Daughter? What daughter? Daniella took a few steps back, bowed before her dad, walked out of the board room and raced out of the premises. After a few minutes of silence, George suffered a heart attack. He had caused his only daughter pain. How could he? Maria would kill him.
Unfortunately, George did not make it to the hospital. He died after opening a mystery. “How convenient!” Maria yelled. Maria was losing her mind. What could she do? How would she solve this? How could George go like this? Maria cried bearing in mind Daniella was nowhere to be found as well.
Daniella was at the other side of town in her apartment lying on the floor. She had gone there immediately after the awful encounter and had laid on the floor ever since. What did these all mean? Was Maria her mother too? She felt sad, really sad. After so long, she finds out the man she called dad is not her biological father. She had no idea he was dead and would not know for a while because there was no way she was leaving her apartment. What else doesn’t she know? She wondered over and over again. The Estiamos probably have a plane full of secrets which she was oblivious to. She was not going to cry. Daniella Estiamo, for now daughter of Maria Estiamo does not cry and would not start now. Daniella had learnt to fight tears since she was a child and no one understood it. In her defense, tears depicted weakness and she was not weak. Of course, this is wrong but she did not care. For years, she had not felt tears threaten to pour as they did now. She was not about to let the apartment watch her cry with joy. She struggled to stand, kicked off her heels, peeled off her jacket, untucked her shirt and made her way to her kitchen. She was safe away from the world in this apartment no one knew about.
She came back to the sitting room with a glass of wine which she finished before she made it to a couch. Luckily, she had the bottle in the other hand. In silence, she drowned the bottle. After an hour of gazing at nothing, she felt a pinch from sleep. The night before had been a disaster as sleep and life had evaded her leaving her helpless on her apartment floor. Now sleep had returned, life was going to take a long time to return but that was understandable. She got up, walked to her neatly arranged room and slept.
Maria grieved alone worrying about her lost child. She knew Daniella was a strong woman, probably stronger than the long line of Estiamo women. Daniella was an Estiamo no matter what George had said. Maria sat, dressed in black, in what was once her husband’s study, hugging a picture of father and daughter at the beach. With that she drifted off to the land of sleep in her husband’s best chair.
She slept and somewhere in sleep land, she visited dreamland. Memories of how she met George, how his family had rejected her and how they had despised her much more when she could not have a child. Surprisingly, when Daniella was born they all adored her, called her princess, played with her and showered her with exquisite gifts. George’s mother was very fond Daniella and thanks to having such a beautiful daughter, Maria was accepted. How weird? She thought. The sad face of Daniella appeared to her and she could feel the pains of her child. She woke up, staring at the ceiling and using her imagination to design the word ‘secret’ in red and white colours. Maybe, just maybe, her silly secret has led to her loss. She was going to tell him. She wanted to joke about it and still be grateful to the Lord. She never had the time and how could she not have had time? Being George Estiamo’s wife was quite a job. The press, the trips, and appearances. Well what was she thinking when she said yes to an Estiamo? She could have married Marcus Gallanty. He was a normal man who loved her and everyone knew it but her heart led her to George. Marcus was probably somewhere enjoying life or was he dead too? George oh George! Where are you? That question kept nagging at her.
It dawned on her that she was all alone. She got up, pacing back and forth. One thing was for sure, she had to find Daniella right away and make things right. Was she not preparing to host husband and daughter to dinner, preparing the latest dish she had learnt on her last trip? Well ‘life happens’ in Daniella’s voice. Her daughter was all she had now. “Robin!” Maria shouted as she stepped into the room outside the study. Robin had lived with them for years. He was like a personal assistant to every one of them. He shared Maria’s pain and she knew she could trust him. “Yes ma,” Robin said appearing and bowing to Maria. She smiled. “Robin oh Robin! Even amidst sadness you still bow to me? It is just us now you know. Please quit the bowing and look at me,” she said while caressing the picture she had slept with. Robin straightened up and looked at Maria. He knew that for the next couple of days, Maria would drift in and out. He would have to be strong and help the poor woman in any way he could. “What can I do for you ma’am?” Robin asked. His voice called Maria out of her trance. She looked at him with a look that said ‘did I call you?’ But then a line of recognition crept in. “Oh yes! Robin I need you to do everything within your power to find Daniella. Track my little girl down. Do what you need to do Robin! I mean it. I have things to clear out and my family needs to be set right,” Maria said with a voice that lacked her usual strength, the vibe. He knew that was a command and had to be carried out immediately. “Yes ma’am,” he responded and bowed. She smiled at him and he was glad that she could still smile in the midst of everything. She was a woman of grace and it would be terrible if she fell apart completely. She had the strength of her husband and he knew she would be fine but what of Daniella? He had heard of the ordeal and it was worrisome for all the staff.
To be continued …