– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
BY Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! It was nice to be pursued once more, but frankly, I donâ€™t see myself falling for Alfred or any other man for many years, or even forever! To me, no man can ever measure up to late dear Vic. He was in a class of his own – so refined and a complete gentleman. Even if he had lived up to two hundred years, he would still appeal to me. Strong words, yes? But true! It was his mind and character, you see.
No man can beat that. â€˜What about his great stinginess? He never got you a house or a rented premises, even when you were engaged to him. It was promises, promises, promises! Good old Seb had to step in to buy you the house in Amuwo Odofin Housing Estate. Before that, he had been responsible for your rent and practically most things. Your Chief did nothing but send you flowers and poems!â€™ That was my inner voice accusing dear Vic of meanness with money. It felt that as a much older suitor and finally a fiance, he should have spoilt me rotten with monetary gifts, as many older men usually do.
Iâ€™ve always disagreed with that â€˜mercenaryâ€™ inner voice of mine. It has always wanted the nice things of life in relationships, to show that the guy in oneâ€™s life is worthy to be associated with. But I beg to dissociate myself from all that. Yes, dear Vic was thrifty and never splashed out on me, but I did love the poems he wrote specifically for me, and the flowers he arranged to be delivered to my house every Friday. That was posh. That was loving.
By the way, a little bird told me that he included in his Will which he must have written several years before he relocated to the United Kingdom, that flowers should be delivered to me every Friday for as long as I still draw breath, to keep our love alive and remind me of him. His children are yet to do that. I went all soft with tenderness when Dare told me. â€˜Ha Ha Ha! So, that was all he could leave you from his vast estate! Talk about meanness even after death! No money, no prized property left to a lady he claimed to be the love of his life! Ha Ha Ha! Flowers!
Thatâ€™s an insult to the love you both shared. Why didnâ€™t he leave you his house in Victoria Island, or even his country house in Agege? Now, that would have kept his love for you alive all the days of your life.â€™ That was that inner voice of mine talking. â€˜Maybe he did leave something substantial for me and his children altered the Will.â€™ I defended. â€˜Ho Ho! Tell that to the Marines! No-one altered the Will. It was â€˜Flowers For Lifeâ€™ that he left you, and even that is not being executed. Poor you!â€™
Embarrassed, I stifled that inner voice of mine and concentrated on the present. Alfred! He is much younger than dear Vic, but he lacked that finishing touch which made Vic stand out. Vic wouldnâ€™t have gone to confront Seb like Alfred did. He cheerfully ignored all the efforts Seb was making to put a wedge between us throughout our relationship, and never said anything derogatory about Seb. He just got on with the business of showing me the depth of his affection for me. Alfred certainly looks the sort of man who would roll up his sleeves and tackle the opponent. Not a bad thing, though.
After the get-together in my family residence in Accra that night, I thought Seb would come bid me â€˜good nightâ€™ before heading for wherever he was staying, but he didnâ€™t. Alfred did though, before he left for his place down the road. He gave me a peck on the cheek and bid me â€˜safe journeyâ€™ back to Lagos. We exchanged telephone numbers and he left. My aunt Adeline swept in soon afterwards. â€œNice man, isnâ€™t it?â€ she said, winking.
â€œWho, auntie? Mr. Alfred?â€
â€œAlfie? Oh, heâ€™s not bad, but I was referring to Seb, your ex-husband. Heâ€™s the better choice of the two men who are interested in you right now.â€
â€œDid Seb say heâ€™s interested in me, auntie dear?â€
â€œHe doesnâ€™t need to say it. Itâ€™s there in his eyes when he looks at you. He worships the very ground you step on, you know.â€
Wao! My aunt must have been reading some old-fashioned romance novels recently. Even modern novelists no longer use those quaint words to describe being in love. Certainly not these days when couples start living together first, to find out whether they love each other or not, and then decide what to do with the relationship. To continue in it or go their separate ways.
People no longer worship the ground on which his/her love interest stands. Unless that person is standing on millions of wads of U.S. dollars; so, you worship that ground so you can help yourself to the money. Thatâ€™s the reality. You donâ€™t try to play smart with my aunt by giving her that sort of reply, so, I kept quiet like a well-mannered niece and waited for her to continue.
â€œI just love it when divorced couples re-marry. Did you know that Elizabeth Taylor, the actress, married Richard Burton twice?â€ she asked. â€œThatâ€™s real love. We shall have the wedding quietly here in Accra, and youâ€™ll return to live happily ever after in the big house in Ikeja which you sweated to build. How do you feel about that, Treena dear?â€
â€œIt sounds great, auntie dear, but I think Seb has someone else in mind for that, and heâ€™s probably found her.â€
â€œYou mean his manager, Coco?â€
â€œMaybe, I donâ€™t know.â€
â€œHe wonâ€™t marry her. And I think she actually prefers being his mistress. Thereâ€™s more peace that way for her as she wonâ€™t have to look after him at home hand and foot. Also, itâ€™s more fun remaining his mistress than actually being his wife. Donâ€™t you think so, Treena dear?â€
â€œYouâ€™re right, auntie.â€
â€œYes, I am. Now, that his Belinda is neither here nor there.â€
â€œDid he say so?â€
â€œHe doesnâ€™t have to say it. He wonâ€™t be pursuing you all over the place if heâ€™s stopped loving you. You must build on that. In fact, why donâ€™t you just move into his residence? You half-own the place and have a right to be there. Yes, that would be more romantic. Go there with nanny and move the womanâ€™s things out. The bible says â€˜My glory will I not give to anotherâ€™. Surely, youâ€™ve come across that passage, havenâ€™t you?â€
â€œBro Gabriel pointed it out to me, but he said it refers to God. However, auntie, I must express my gratitude for the interest you take in me. Iâ€™m so grateful. I shall miss you when I return to Lagos tomorrow morning. I hope youâ€™ll come on a visit soon, auntie. I love you.â€
â€œOh, I love you too, my dear favourite niece. Sadly, Iâ€™m too old to make the long journey by road, and I no longer fancy travel by air. Iâ€™m afraid, youâ€™ll be the one whoâ€™ll continue to come here when you want to see me. Seb said heâ€™ll be at my sonâ€™s wedding next month. That would be exciting. Make sure you come down together, my dear.â€
â€œThank you again, auntie. Good night.â€
â€œSleep tight, my dear.â€
On our journey back to Lagos, I went over that scene with my aunt and sighed. Pity my parents returned to live in Accra. It means Iâ€™ll certainly have to go there on visits. But for that, I would have kept my distance from my aunt forever. She has a widowed daughter whoâ€™s single and in my age-group, but sheâ€™s not trying to force her to marry. Instead, sheâ€™s concentrating on me. Why me? I felt oppressed. Mercifully, Ify slept most of the way, so, I was able to pursue my thoughts peacefully. We picked up nanny at the Aflao border. She looked happy and well-rested; I told her.
â€œAh, madam, thank you for allowing me to go spend some time with my aged mother,â€ she gushed. â€œAt first, I was disappointed when you told me not to go with you to Accra, but Iâ€™m glad you made that decision. It was fun being part of the village women again; doing all the hard labour they engage in to survive, and generally helping here and there.â€
â€œYou should do it more often, or even relocate here,â€ I teased.
â€œGod forbid, madam. That would shorten oneâ€™s life. I enjoyed it because I knew I would be returning to a better life with you and oga in Lagos. They were all envious of my sort of life.â€
â€œWe thank God, nanny.â€
â€œKodjo told me just now that oga and Madam Coco were in Accra. I thought she was returning to Lagos from Lome. Hm. Must she follow oga all over the place?â€
â€œThey had some business in Accra, I think.â€
â€œMadam, I donâ€™t like that woman, but sheâ€™s useful to oga. She knows important business people both in Lagos and Ghana.â€
â€œMichel told me that she wants to move into ogaâ€™s premises soon, because her house in Isolo is flooded. Michel is to get the chalet ready by next week.â€
â€œAre you kidding? Again? Didnâ€™t she do that two years ago and Belinda had to go throw out her things? Well, thatâ€™s their headache. Maybe itâ€™s just for the rainy season and she has no other choice,â€ I added, trying to hide my resentment.
â€œWrong!â€ said Ify who had woken up and had been following our conversation. â€œIn confidence, Coco told Joe that she wants to put up her residence for rent for two years; complete with the furniture. Several companies around Isolo are interested, but she wanted to know if Joe could help get someone. She would prefer to let it out to a reliable and responsible person or company so that she can get back her property when she wants it. Joe is on the lookout for a good tenant. She said she needs the money.â€
â€œI canâ€™t believe she needs money that desperately. Not with that flashy car that sheâ€™s driving around.â€
â€œHer son abroad sent that down to her, she told me. Sheâ€™s lucky to have achieving children.â€
â€œI think she just wants an excuse to live close to Seb for whatever purpose. I think that her letter of resignation was a sham from the beginning. She never intended leaving.â€
â€œShe and Seb canâ€™t do without each other,â€ said Ify earnestly. â€œBelinda should watch out.â€
How I wish my aunt were there to hear that.