Her favourite word was ‘why’. She was used to the surprised smiles of strangers and the scoldings from her cousins when she asked a question over and over again in the way only five year olds know how.

But she never asked the dreaded question. The question everyone expected after every parents’ day or PTA meeting, or whenever there was a fathers’ thanksgiving in church.

“Ada’s daddy bought new shoes,” she would say with a sigh, and for a moment hearts would stop beating. “It’s pink with a white press button. Don’t you think it’s sad how Ada always loses her shoes? Such a baby and she’s even five and a half.” Or another day. “Ekpere said their daddy travelled to China for business,” her brow crinkled in concentration. “I wonder how he manages the Chinese vocabulary,” her brow clearing, difficult word said.

Her mother waited, believing she would one day ask why. She never did.