I stand in front of the big, ebony door. It’s cold and it’s raining. My full-length trench coat barely contains my body’s heat. I am enveloped by fear. I knock on the door thrice. I am transported back to the orphanage.
It was a bitterly cold and rainy day in 1986. I was six years old. I’d just been dropped off at the third orphanage in my lifetime. I was guided to my new room through the narrow corridor of the derelict house by the matron. My decaying suitcase I carried contained every possession I owned. That was when I first met him. He introduced himself as Thando – he was a black boy about my age, my roommate. He had a short afro. His clothes were noticeably old and he’d outgrown them. That didn’t seem to stifle his spirit.
The big, ebony door opens swiftly. A man stands on the threshold. His hair is completely white. He is wearing a black butler’s coat.
“How may I help you?” He has a slight British accent.
“My name is Warrick Tomilson. I’m here to see Mr Dunst. Is he available?”
“Mr Dunst does not see anyone unless they have made an appointment.”
“Please. I’ve been looking for Mr Dunst for some time now. I just need to have one minute with him. It is important.” My voice is shaky and I sound desperate.
“Well,” he says hesitantly, “come inside and I shall see what I can do. This way please.” He leads me into the vast entrance hall. “Mr Tomilson,” he says gesturing towards a black sofa, “if you would please take a seat and wait here.”
I sit down in the sofa and admire the wooden chessboard on the table beside me.
The year was 1992. I was playing chess with Thando in our room. He and I were best friends by then. Our bond was indescribable. Thando and I both hated being orphans – the idea that someone gave us up was unbearable. Neither of us knew our biological parents. I knocked over Thando’s king. “Checkmate.” He gave me his trademark smile.
Just as the memory of knocking the king over fades, the butler walks back into the room.
“Mr Dunst will see you shortly, Mr Tomilson.”
“Warrick Tomilson,” I said, laughing at the small booklet in my hand with an awful photograph of my face. It was 1996. Thando and I were sixteen and we had just received our first ID’s. The orphanage we had been staying at for the past few years was closing down. We had one month left. Thando and I got onto the topic of our biological parents as we were walking back from the Home Affairs office.
“I want to find them,” I said in a determined voice near the end of our conversation.
“Warrick, my friend… if you have determination you can do anything.” He smiled, exposing his mouth of white pearls.
Thando’s words echo in my head as I hear the looming footsteps walk towards where I’m seated. A man dressed in a black suit with a grey shirt and a black tie walks hurriedly into the room. We make eye contact. He has tears in his eyes. I know this is the moment of fear all orphans experience in this situation. The fear of being rejected – again. He steps closer to me. I stand up. He manages to let out two words which I’d longed for all my life, “My son.” After a moment of hesitation we embrace. I feel his warmth. I rest my head on his shoulder and close my eyes. I know I have just found my real father.