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Are you a foul-weather friend?

By candida

WE all have our share of  foul-weather friends. But are  you one yourself?
Your career is grinding to a halt, the man you once termed “the best thing that ever happerrto me” has found lasting bliss with another woman and your good friend is driving you insane giving you a blow-by-blow account of her life with her new found- land.

So, when another good friend called, weeping heart-breakingly because the father of her child (you never liked him anyway) wants ‘space’, you feel a glimmer of relief – no matter how tiny. You thank your stars you’re not the only one asking “why me” all the time. Ini, remember her? A good friend who never allowed the grass to grow under her feet; who in spite of being married, boasts of an impressive array of “shock absorber.”

She met this politician on a flight to London, struck a relationship with him and gloated about how what was supposed to be a fling had blown into an intimate relationship. A few weeks ago, she came bounding down my drive way. “I’ve called things off with chief’, she fumed as soon as she settled down. She looked more angry than heart-broken. “This man’s appetite for sex is insatiable. And there is no day you don’t find him with different types of women or hear about his escapade with these so-called society women.” But what was her problem? She was not looking for a husband, and chief was over- generous. She also knew the type of lover the poor man was before she plunged into a relationship with him.

“Money is not everything”, she told me, rolling her eyes. “I was at a party last week when the news started making the rounds that one of our so-called-money-miss-road celebrities had tested positive to the AIDS virus. Not only  that, most of his flashy wives also tested positive. The only lucky escapee is the first wife he virtually abandoned in order to sew his old wild oats with these fortune hunters he acquired as wives.

When I finally saw chief, I requested we should start using condom. He looked at me as if I’d suggested he rob a bank. ‘What for?’ he sneered. ‘Use a condom at my age? You told me you didn’t want my children, so why should I now be wearing a silly contraceptive because I want to have sex with you’.

Talk about being crude. I patiently explained to him about the rampant spread of AIDS and the shocking news of this ‘socialite’s predicament”. ‘What has that got to do with us?’, he wanted to know. I had to remind him of his penchant for chasing anything in skirt. That all my children were still young and I would love to see them married. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that feeling of warm smugness when a close friend confides in us.

After all, it’s nice that you’re the one they chose to turn to, the one they trusted with their secret, and the one whose advice they all valued the most. It’s flattering; it makes you feel needed and secure. I don’t really ask my friends to come to me with their problems and certainly don’t encourage them to feel bad. But I’m a good listener and I genuinely care for my friends. And, let’s face it, listening to everyone else’s problems makes me forget my own. I consoled Ini the best I could, assuring her she would soon find a replacement. As I saw her to her car, I was dying to give Lilian a blow-by-blow account of Ini’s current dilemma.

Lilian, is an incurable gossip – just like me. When I walked into her sitting room, her stepson, late Ayoka’s son was running around the living room, a picture of health and mischief. His sister was being taken care of by the nanny. But the little boy was adorable. How children quickly forget? Her mum might be dead, but he was quite unaware of this as he snuggled up to Lilian.

Her mothering instinct must have kicked in as she cuddled the boy- who looked really contented and trusting lilian listened enraptured as I told her of Ini£ resolve to chuck her politician lover. “Serves her right”, Lilian said, “when I was having problems with Rex (her husband) I went to her for sympathy because you were away for a week then. Instead, she gave me regular accounts of the wonderful time she was having with her beau. I was really depressed at the time and hearing how happy she was didn’t help.

I really needed her sympathy but she didn’t help. I really needed her sympathy but she was in another planet. Now that her perfect chief has turned into a monster, she would soon be needing my sympathy. But I’m not like her. I won’t pay her back in her own coin by being indifferent to her pain. I’ve never liked that pompous oaf and I say good riddance to him!” You can then imagine how embarrassed I felt when Ini came strutting into my office a few days later with her seemingly disease infested chief! I’d met him a couple of times.

An intelligent man, he had a really aloof look, but this time, he tried to be friendly. He offered to give us lunch. As a married woman, Ini daren’t go out to lunch with him alone; that was where I came in, the perfect excuse when she was spotted. It was inevitable that our discussion finally centred on Ini’s refusal to have sex with him condomless.
Sounding really wounded, he told me he wasn’t a promiscuous man and had always been careful as to whom he went to bed with. “Your friend is a good indication of my taste.

Now, would you say she could be an AIDS victim?” the fact still remains he has lots of lovers, upping the risk of AIDS – but I didn’t tell him this. I told him to take things easy – that Ini would soon come round to his way of solving the simple problem that now threatened to break their relationship. Ini looked at me as if I’d suddenly sprung two heads. I gave her silent warning to keep quiet.

The next time I saw her, I told her that one of Lilian’s friends who had a well stocked pharmaceutical shop in one of the shopping malls on Victoria Island now sold female condoms. What do they look like?”

Ini wanted to know. “Will chief notice I’m wearing one and would it give total protection against any disease?” How would I know? I wasn’t the one selling the stuff and I’d never used one either. All she had to do was be patient until Lilian took us to this pharmacist friend of hers.


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