Divali was good for business. Christmas was better. Everyone wanted their house painted. Their furniture polished. He understood surge pricing without knowing he did. But surge pricing didn't apply to old customers. Whose walls he'd painting thru weddings and first communions. Thru first wives and second. Why did the second never like the colours the first had ? Whether the first was departed or just distanced, the second always changed the colours. He knew the colours people would ask for before they did. The office goers wanted white. The shippies blue. The bankers a touch of green, when their wives allowed them. He liked painting the children's rooms the best. When their parents allowed them to choose the colour. Didn't happen often. Most times the kids were shortchanged. Old peoples colours with young persons curtains and cushions. They'd been trying to have a child for so long. So many IUI's and IVFs . Novenas and grapefruit . Both guaranteed to leave you with child. One worked. Neither of them was sure which did. Quiet joy over seeing a squiggle on an X-ray. On hearing a heartbeat within her that wasn't hers. The baby was due December. The 20th. Booties and baby dresses. Nappies and bonnets . Advice from her mother and mother in law. Eat this, don't eat that, sit like this. It's surely a boy I know. Looks at the way she's walking. When you're expecting a girl the walk is different. It's surely going to be a girl. An expectant mother only glows like that when its a girl. No they didn't want to know what it was. And the doctor didn't tell them. She came on Christmas Day. To a room the nurses had decorated. With thermocole angels and cotton snowmen. He called him to tell- him the room had to be painted. And she came home to her room . The room that he had done having worked three days nonstop. He walked home carrying ladder, empty paint tins and washed clean brushes. Smelling of turpentine and polish. Wearing the pink splotch on his shirt like the badge of honour that it was.