– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! Iâ€™m excited! Iâ€™m in love! This time around, Iâ€™ve fallen for a handsome and much younger gentle man with lovely dimples. Heâ€™s young enough to be my grand child, but heâ€™s my man of the moment. His name is Bayo Junior or BJ. Yes, heâ€™s Tayoâ€™s grandson from her first daughter, Dupe. The moment I set my eyes on him, I was totally smitten.
Seb had joined the gals to welcome me back from Accra when she joined us; announcing that her grandson was in the garden.Â We told her to get him quick.
Instead of sending nanny to go tell the boyâ€™s nannies to bring him in, she marched out proudly like a heroine on a mission, and shortly she returned, bearing him in her arms like a trophy, trailed by the two nannies, her driver, Sebâ€™s driver, nanny and my guard! It was like an invasion.
â€œHeaven help us!â€ cried Liz, getting up. â€œWhatâ€™s happening? Why are all these guys streaming into the house? Is there a riot on this estate?â€
â€œThereâ€™s no riot, Liz dear,â€ said Tayo as she settled herself and the baby into a large arm chair. â€œThey want to have a look at the baby.â€
â€œCouldnâ€™t they do that when he was in the garden?â€ asked Liz. â€œWhy come to crowd us in here as if running for safety?â€ Itâ€™s only Liz who could ask Tayo such questions without getting her head bitten off. The rest of us looked on curiously.
â€œThatâ€™s a good question,â€ said Tayo.Â â€œThe nannies have instructions not to allow anyone near the baby without my permission, so, these guys had to wait for me to come out. I invited them in so that they can gaze on him unhindered.â€Â A loony explanation, if you ask me.
But I let it pass as I looked at the infant from a distance, while the drivers, malam and nanny crowded round Tayo, admiring the baby and praying for him one after the other. They each tried to put some money in the babyâ€™s hand! Horror! You should see how Tayo screamed at them.
â€œOh no! You must never put money in a babyâ€™s hand!â€ she said, visibly shaken.
â€œMadam, itâ€™s the tradition,â€ said Sebâ€™s driver.
â€œI know. I know. Thank you so much. But you see, think of where the money is coming from. I mean the sort of people and number of people that must have handled it.â€
â€œKodjo, she means the germs that may be on the naira note,â€ explained Seb. â€œWith a baby, especially a very young one, you have to be careful.â€
â€œThank you, Seb dear. Junior is fond of putting his fingers into his mouth. Germs from anything could pass into his mouth and cause him some infection. His parents are not here. Imagine their dismay when I tell them that their son is being treated for one infection or the other.â€
â€œNot to mention the reaction of the other grandmother,â€ I whispered in Tayoâ€™s ear.
â€œExactly!â€ she said.
â€œYou can all put your money for the baby on the table,â€ said Seb. â€œMadam will put it into his bank account. Thank you so much. May God reward you all. Thank you.â€
Tayo added her profuse thanks and they all left the room. I asked nanny to go serve all of themÂ drinks and snacks. We then turned to examine the baby. We each took him up in our arms to play with him and pray for him.
When it came to my turn, tears of joy and affection sprang to my eyes. He was such a cute happy infant; smiling at everybody curiously. I must have held him longer than everyone else because Seb came to take him gently from me to hand back to Tayo.
Long after the others have left, nanny and I sat to discuss the infant.
â€œMadam, I love that little boy o,â€ said nanny softly. â€œBut I could see that you love him even more. Heâ€™s such a lovely baby; ever smiling. Hm! Well, weâ€™ll soon have grand children in this house when sis Heather marries her fiance.â€
â€œHeather is not yet engaged to the boyfriend, nanny.â€
â€œOh, but theyâ€™ve been together for two years or more now, and we have the photograph of both of them together in this house.â€
â€œYes, but that doesnâ€™t make them man and wife, or even engaged.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s delaying their marriage?â€ nanny wanted to know.
I had to tell her that I hadnâ€™t the faintest idea. When I retired upstairs for the night,Â anger was building up within me.Â What was wrong with me? Why canâ€™t my daughter get married and make me a grandmother? All my age-mates and even those younger are grandmothers. I felt deprived. That was the main thing lacking in my life at the moment.Â I was the only one left of the gals to become a grandmother. I hope this wouldnâ€™t give me an inferiority complex.Â It wasnâ€™t as if my daughter wasnâ€™t dating seriously.Â It was Sebâ€™s fault, I concluded.
Talk of coincidence! My mobile phone went and it was the guy! My anger doubled as I said â€˜helloâ€™.
â€œAh, pipe down, Treena dear,â€ he said. â€œI can see youâ€™re ready to rain invisible blows on me. Whatâ€™s the matter? Are you upset because I took the infant from your arms to return to Tayo? You were hanging on to him and didnâ€™t seem to want to let go. It was becoming embarrassing.â€
â€œYouâ€™re the main problem in my life,â€ I blurted out when I could speak.
â€œHey! Thatâ€™s a new one! You said once many years ago, that I turned your world upside down, and now Iâ€™m the main problem in your life. Is that a compliment that you miss me in your life?â€
â€œBut for you and your prejudice, Seb, I would be a grandmother to, at least, one child now.â€
â€œThis is a great accusation.Â In what way have I stopped you from becoming a grandmother?Â This is too great a sin to attribute to me.â€
â€œYouâ€™re standing in the way of Robert and Heather becoming man and wife. You refused to cooperate. Youâ€™re too suspicious of the boyâ€™s motives in dating your daughter. You set some tests for him and he came out in flying colours.â€
â€œSo? Is that a sin? Should I hand over my daughter out just like that to a stranger as if Iâ€™m anxious to get rid of her? Think straight, Treena dear. Iâ€™ve been doing the honourable thing.â€
â€œYou have, Seb,â€ I had to admit. â€œBut you should have shown some enthusiasm so that Robert would feel that thereâ€™s some hope that youâ€™ll allow him to marry Heather. Heâ€™s a nice young man. Heâ€™s responsible and has a future.â€
â€œIn what way have I stopped him marrying Heather? Has he proposed marriage to her?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Iâ€™m sure he has.â€
â€œDid she tell you he has?â€
â€œShe doesnâ€™t have to tell me. We can see it in their relationship.â€
â€œHow? I canâ€™t see in the relationship that there has been a marriage proposal, and Heather hasnâ€™t told me that heâ€™s asked her to marry him. Maybe Iâ€™m old-fashioned, but when I asked you to marry me, you first of all wrote down to tell your parents, and they told you not to give me an answer until they had had a look at me.â€
â€œYes, but that was a million years ago, Seb.Â Things are different these days. You donâ€™t play hard to get as a parent and …â€
â€œPlay hard to get as a parent? What does that mean?â€
â€œI mean hard to please. You encourage whoever your daughter has fallen in love with, and guide the couple. You treated Robert suspiciously and that may have driven him away from Heather. Letâ€™s face it. Heâ€™s a good-looking young man with a good future. There must be many girls after him. Even Nkem said she thought there might be a future for him and her daughter together, but he didnâ€™t fancy her at all, and was always raving about how gorgeous Heather was.â€
â€œSo, let him rave on.Â When he does the proper thing and he comes to wherever I am to ask for the hand of my daughter in marriage, Iâ€™ll know what to say to him.â€
â€œYouâ€™re not going to turn him down, are you?â€
â€œThatâ€™s my secret. I assure you I wonâ€™t play hard to please, but whoever wants to marry my daughter has to convince me that heâ€™s worthy to become my son-in-law. Weâ€™re not talking of looks or wealth. Weâ€™re talking of character. How well do you know him?â€
â€œI donâ€™t have to know him very well since Iâ€™m not the one getting married to him. Itâ€™s Heatherâ€™s business to study him well and be convinced that heâ€™s the right man for him. Iâ€™m sure sheâ€™s convinced of that already.â€
â€œDid she tell you so?â€
â€œShe doesnâ€™t have to, I can…â€
â€œYou can see it in the relationship, isnâ€™t it?â€
â€œWell, they donâ€™t quarrel and heâ€™s not stingy in any way.â€
â€œThank God Iâ€™m still around to bring sanity into this marriage business. Left to you, Heather would have married the first creep who came her way, just because youâ€™re anxious to become a grandmother. â€œ
â€œI havenâ€™t said Iâ€™m anxious to become a grand mother. I said it would be nice to be one like Tayo is.Â Do you know Iâ€™m the only one left of the gals that is not a grandmother?Â It isnâ€™t good for my image.â€
â€œOh, being a grandmother is something to give one an image now, is it? Youâ€™ll have to wait for some time yet. Thereâ€™s no way Iâ€™m going to rush my daughter into getting married when sheâ€™s still only in her twenties. Even if she were older, I still wouldnâ€™t rush her. So there! Bye.â€
With that the line went silent, and my dream of having my own cuddly grandchild in my arm very soon, began to evaporate. Frantically, I rang Heather to subtly find out if her relationship with Robert was still going strong.Â Â He took the call. You can imagine theÂ relief that flooded me.