– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! I was amazed on my return from Ghana to hear the gals cooing over how handsome, cuddly, adorable and intelligent Tayoâ€™s grandson is. Becky, Boma and Liz had come to welcome me back to the country. I was so touched by their kind gesture. Nanny, bless her dutiful heart, hurried down to our local market, then dived into the kitchen and in no time, we were at table feasting on amala, ewedu and okro. Later, when Seb joined us, I understood why she had served us that particular food. Apparently, he had rung her to tell her he would be coming that evening, and that he was hungry. She decided to make his favourite dish.
â€œHey, ladies!â€ he said, when we finally left the table, â€œthe meal was great. We shall not only call nanny in and clap for her, letâ€™s have a whip round for the best female cook in our world.â€
A little tipsy on the fresh and unadulterated palm wine he had brought along, we all agreed with him in a noisy way, as we reached for our purses. I called nanny in and Seb made a short speech praising her culinary ability, and he gave her the money. She curtsied in gratitude, grinning happily.
â€œSebbie dear,â€ said Liz, â€œcan you please introduce me to your palm-wine tapper? Iâ€™d like to become one of his customers, so that Uka can regularly enjoy this type of Grade One palmwine. I agree with you that the meal was first class, but what delighted me most is the palm wine. Now, Iâ€™m saying this with a very clear mind. Iâ€™m not getting tipsy. Treena is looking at me as if Iâ€™ve had too much to drink.â€
â€œHave you had too much to drink, Liz dear?â€ I asked â€˜innocentlyâ€™.
â€œOf course not! Have you ever heard of any human being getting drunk on palm wine?â€
â€œNo,â€ chorused Boma and Becky, as they reached for their glasses again and filled them. â€œItâ€™s medicinal.â€
â€œDonâ€™t be daft, gals,â€ I said, as I took a sip from my glass. â€œIt contains alcohol, so, it can make you drunk if you take too much of it. Becky, as a born again deaconess, shouldnâ€™t touch the stuff.â€
â€œYouâ€™ll have to down several bottles of the stuff before you can achieve the status of being classified as drunk,â€ said Seb. â€œMy source of supply is a tapper in the Omole area. Belinda discovered him recently.â€
I began to cough uncontrollably, threatening to throw up all the palm wine I had drunk.
â€œNow, be a civilized lady, Treena dear,â€ said Seb smoothly, as he came to thumb me on the back, â€œand donâ€™t throw up just because I said that it was Belinda who brought the palm wine tapper. She didnâ€™t tap the stuff , nor handle it, so, it canâ€™t poison you. Youâ€™ll live, my dear.â€
I felt a little bit ashamed of myself because Seb was right. Anything connected with his madam is pure poison to me! I thanked him for coming to my rescue and sat subdued in my chair, allowing the conversation to flow around me. Eagerly, the gals all took down the palm wine tapperâ€™s GSM nos. I smiled at the fact that telecommunication has been made so easy and affordable that palm wine tappers, butchers, market people and even my own malam now have one which they hold like a trophy.
â€œUka takes palm wine regularly for his sight, but itâ€™s hard to get the real stuff these days,â€ said Liz.
â€œEven the bottled one has been tampered with because of preservation,â€ added Boma. â€œGordon has been taking it for years. He complains about the quality, but he canâ€™t stop. It aids his digestion.â€
â€œActually, my doctor in Ikeja recommended it for me,â€ said Seb. â€œIâ€™m told to abstain from regular intake of hot drinks, but to take palm wine for a more stable health. Mind you, but for the fact that Michel bought a special keg for the tapper and follows him around while tapping for me, Iâ€™m sure the guy would adulterate the wine. Michel drives down to do this every Friday.â€
â€œDoes Michel drive now?â€ I asked Seb.
â€œOh yes! He subtly hinted sometime ago that giving him a car to drive around, would be of great benefit to me as he would be able to run errands for me more effectively. He then told me that Tayo had bought a car for her housekeeper. He said their towns people laugh at him that a woman he got his type of job for, zooms around in a car, and he who works for a â€˜bigâ€™ man still treks, uses the bus and the bike.â€
â€œDid Michel say that?â€ asked Boma. â€œSee these domestics o! Iâ€™m glad my housekeeper doesnâ€™t move in their circle. Otherwise, he too would be asking to be given a car. We canâ€™t afford to buy him one.â€
â€œAh, we gave Michel a panel van from the pool, and thereâ€™s a ceiling for the fuel it can consume in a month. He took driving lessons while I was away and persuaded Coco to let him run errands for the company. Treena, didnâ€™t you notice that when you were there?â€
â€œNo. I think Tayo spoils her staff. Whatâ€™s she giving her housekeeper a car for?â€
â€œBy the way, whereâ€™s she?â€ asked Seb. â€œShe told me that the gals would be here this evening to welcome you back, and that I should bring her a keg of my special palm wine. I had clean forgotten about her. Thatâ€™s the power of nannyâ€™s food. Here, I must ring her to find out where she is.â€
That was when Becky mentioned Tayoâ€™s grandson.
â€œShe was going to bring Dupeâ€™s son along with her. It isnâ€™t easy getting a one year old baby ready for an outing. They must be on their way here.â€
â€œCome again!â€ I said, astonished. â€œSheâ€™s bringing her grandson here? How nice! Are his parents in the country? No-one told me they were around. I know Iâ€™ve been away, but Tayo rang me several times, but never mentioned anything about Dupe and Bayo being here.â€
â€œOh dear!â€ moaned Becky. â€œMy big mouth ran away with me! You werenâ€™t supposed to know until you see the kid with Tayo here. It was meant to be a surprise. Tayo will be disappointed that I had told you.â€
â€œDonâ€™t distress yourself, Becky dear. Iâ€™ll ride along and pretend that it is a surprise to see the baby. Are the parents coming here too? I hope I have enough of the right drinks in the house.â€
â€œDupe and Bayo are not in the country,â€ said Boma. â€œTayo went down there to bring the baby home.â€
â€œAre you kidding? Is that wise?â€
â€œWell, her reason for separating the kid from the parents is sound. Both of them are working full time, and also doing their Phd part time. That can be tough. Tayo didnâ€™t want them to use foster parents or even a child minder. Her house in Ikeja is full of various types of domestic help and they donâ€™t have enough work to do.â€
â€œThatâ€™s true,â€ concurred Liz. â€œTayo has a cook, a steward, a housekeeper, a maid, a washer man, and two security guards.â€
â€œWhy does she need so many domestic helps?â€ I asked.
â€œYou know your Tayo,â€ said Seb, coming into the conversation. â€œShe employs people in order to help them earn a living. Thatâ€™s part of the way she gives back to the society. Sheâ€™s helping the society.â€
â€œYouâ€™re doing the same, Seb dear,â€ Liz told him. â€œWhen I was your consultant, we used to squabble over your decision to keep on employing people who werenâ€™t of any relevance to your company. You said you hate seeing people suffer from unemployment. We thank God for your life, Seb dear.â€
Seb mumbled something. I asked the gals how Bayoâ€™s people feel about their grandson living with the maternal grandmother.
â€œThey donâ€™t like it, but Iâ€™ll have my way,â€ said Tayo, who had come into the room unnoticed.
â€œTayo!â€ I screamed delightedly. â€œItâ€™s good to see you, gal! You look great!â€
â€œYou look greater! Accra seems good for you. Seb told me a guy thereâ€™s after you hotly.â€
I stared wide-eyed at Seb, who was chuckling to himself quietly. I decided to ignore that and I asked Tayo why she needed to bring the kid home with her.
â€œWhatâ€™s the kidâ€™s name and where is he?â€
â€œHe has a stash of names given by almost everybody in his dadâ€™s family and in my family and Dotunâ€™s family, but we call him Bayo Junior, or just junior. I wanted to sneak in on you all here so I told his two nannies to sit with him in the garden.â€
â€œHe has two nannies? Why?â€
â€œI want him well-looked after. I donâ€™t want his other grandmother saying that heâ€™s better off in England. â€œ
â€œWas that what she wanted?â€
â€œYes o! Can you imagine! She returned here to renew her visa and I was told she got two years this time around, and was planning to make her home with Bayo and Dupe. I donâ€™t want that for my daughter. That was why I rushed down there to bring the kid home.â€
â€œYouâ€™ll now have the woman camping on your doorstep on the excuse that sheâ€™s come to see her grandson.â€
â€œI can cope with that. I just want my daughter to live with her husband in peace. The woman was always criticizing everything Dupe did, creating tension in the home. Bayo couldnâ€™t check her. He and Dupe thanked me profusely for my decision. It will ensure that they come home regularly too; a thing theyâ€™ve been reluctant to do.
Hm! I hope the strategy works.