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Tough line!

– the funloving, but hardworking single parent

By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! Apparently, things took a different dimension after I left Jos. Instead of returning to          Lagos to spend the Christmas, and then leave for Accra, Seb actually spent the Christmas there. When he phoned on Christmas day, he didn’t tell me he was still in Jos. We joked and prayed together over the phone for our children.

It was Heather who broke the news about ‘dad being trapped in Jos’. This was on Boxing Day.

“Your father is ‘trapped’ in Jos?” I asked. “Isn’t he in Lagos? When you say ‘trapped’ what does that mean, Heather dear?”

“Mum, it means he wants to leave for Lagos, but papa and mama told him to wait so that he could come down to Lagos with a visitor. He said there’s an ‘auntie’ there he’d just been introduced to, and who they said he should bring down to Lagos so that he could get to know her better and find out if he could marry her. Her name is ‘Peaceful’ or ‘Peace’. He says he likes her and that you’ve met her and both of you chatted like old friends. What’s she like, mum?”

“Er, well, she’s a human being just like the rest of us,” I said, not quite enthusiastic about her, now that Seb had chosen her out of the three paraded before him.

“I know, mum,” said Heather patiently. “What I mean is, is she easy-on-the eye and pleasant? Dad said he chose her out of the three you were introduced to because you seemed to like her. Well, I told dad that if you liked her, then she’s okay because you’re a good judge of people, especially their character.”

“Thanks darling, but your dad read me wrong. I smiled at the lady because she smiled plenty at me. I merely responded politely. My gesture shouldn’t have been seen by your dad as a stamp of approval. It’s no business of mine who he chooses to marry, as you and Milwan have known all these years. I will never be a stumbling block to any marital move of his.”

“We know that, mum.”

“Thanks, my dear. So, he’s invited the lady to Lagos, has he? That means he likes her. Good for him. Where will he put Belinda, or, he had not thought of that?”

“Mum, I asked him that too. He said auntie Belinda is okay, and that she knows that he was merely doing it to please his parents. He said that after you left, they pressured him that he must make a move before he left Jos, towards the one he liked best, so that the other two and their families will not keep up hope that he would contact them. They said if he didn’t do that, there could be bad blood between the families, since it was the Kwenta family who approached them about their daughters. He had to stay for Christmas to get to know the lady ‘Peaceful’ better; take her out, etc.”

I smiled to myself. That’s Seb and his world for you. Ask him to try out a woman, and he hasn’t the heart to say ‘no’. How can a wife or any woman he’s having a serious relationship with feel safe in his affection? That attitude is the reason ex girlfriends hold on to him. I didn’t tell his daughter that, though.

“That makes sense,” I told Heather, “but if he says Belinda is safe, why has he invited this Peaceful to Lagos? Will Belinda, to whom he claims to be engaged, stand willingly aside and let the lady stay in the house? Or, is he lodging her elsewhere in Lagos? I hope he can pull off the matter without any harm to his person and his health. I’m concerned about this. When is he coming to Lagos with Peace?”

“Mum, he said they’ll travel on Monday. It would help if you ring to wish him a safe journey, mum. You know he likes to feel that you care about him, where he is and what he is doing”

I didn’t see any harm in ringing him up, but I waited till Sunday evening to do this. I almost fainted when I called his line and it was Belinda’s voice that came on.

Had she joined him in Jos or what? Maybe she was tired of waiting around the corner for him in Abuja, or, she didn’t fancy spending the Christmas alone there. What a lady! That meant that the project ‘Peace’ had to be abandoned by Seb when his lady stormed Jos. What happened? How did the family react? Knowing Seb, he would allow himself to be led away by the stronger party. Ha! Ha! What about those his sisters whose tongues have the sting of an adder? As these thoughts were racing through my mind, Belinda was saying ‘Hello! Hello! Is anyone at the other end? Please speak.’ I pulled myself together and adjusted my voice.

“Belinda, this is Treena. Merry Christmas.  So, how are you?”

“Mrs. Kwenta!” she exclaimed, as if she had connected with a favourite friend. “Merry Christmas! How are you? We spoke to Milwan and Heather just thirty minutes ago. Hope you enjoyed your Christmas.”

“I did. Thank you. Hope yours was great too. Is Seb there? Can I speak to him, please?”

“He’s right here. We returned to Lagos this afternoon. I had been in Abuja while he was in Jos. I thought we would spend Christmas together in Lagos, but he had family matters to attend to. Oh, I’ve forgotten that you were there too, briefly. When his stay there was threatening to become stressful, I went yesterday morning to get him. It’s bad for his health to be in any stressful situation, and they had created a highly stressful one for him up there, according to reports filtering to me in Abuja. I was alarmed. I couldn’t leave him wallowing in that mess, so, I went to get him. Luckily, we were able to get a private flight direct back to Lagos. It was expensive but it was worth it.”

“Hm! Well done! I thank God that you’re both back to Lagos safely.”

“Thanks so much. Merry Christmas again, and a Happy New Year in advance. Here’s Seb. Hold on for him.”

I didn’t. I rang off instead. Seb knew that sign. It meant he should ring when it’s convenient for him to do so. It’s also to save my credit, since I initiated the call. He must have taken his phone from his dame, listened, then shook his head, indicating that the line had gone dead. He would then shrug his shoulders and turn his attention to other things, waiting for an opportunity to call me.

No, he’s not afraid of his woman, but he knows my ‘sharp’ tongue would say some nasty things about her at any given time, so, he rings when he’s alone. I knew he wouldn’t be in a conducive atmosphere to ring immediately, so, I left my phones behind to go to nanny’s room. My curiosity had shot up to an all-high. I just had to know what happened in Jos after I left. Nanny  was bound to have all the details, at least, the Lagos end of it, from Michel and Robert.

I knocked on nanny’s door at the back of the house several times, but she didn’t open. She didn’t respond when I called out either, even though I could hear subtle movements within. As I turned to return to the main house, malam called out to tell me  that nanny’s husband had come. I nodded at malam and thanked him. She had actually come to tell me that she had a visitor that afternoon, but I hadn’t thought it was one that she would lock herself in her room with and refuse to answer to my knock or call. Well, she’s been a widow for many years now, and she has her needs as an adult. I’ll have to wait until she was through with her visitor and back on duty in the house.

When at eight she hadn’t come in, I had my supper which she had served in a cooler on the dining table, and began to prepare for bed. My phone rang. It was Michel. My heart skipped a beat because he doesn’t normally ring me up, except there’s an emergency. Even then, he would speak to nanny first.

“Hope your oga is alright, Michel,” was my opening line.

“Good evening, madam,” he said, “ sorry to bother you. I rang nanny’s line but she didn’t pick it.”

“She had told me earlier that she had a visitor,” I told him. “Malam said it’s her husband. I’m sure she’s alright. If she doesn’t turn up to say ‘good night’ I’ll ring you and then we’ll call the police to have her door taken down.”

“Alright, ma. I think the husband that malam referred to must be her man friend. I know him. He’s from a village next to ours. He lives in Maza Maza.”

“Didn’t she have a washerman boyfriend living in Maza Maza some years ago? She’s chosen another one from there?”

“It’s the same man, madam. He returned to Togo, but came back two weeks ago. He’s now a carpenter.”

“I see.  Er, how are things over there in Ikeja?”

“Ah, not so fine o, madam. Oga is quite well, and we thank God for that, but Patrick rang me this evening from Jos to say that a lady that the family wants oga to marry will be arriving tomorrow afternoon by air. Madam Belinda had hidden all oga’s phones, so, they couldn’t reach him. They had to phone to ask me to tell him. I told him and he said I should go meet the lady and bring her to your house, and that you’ve already met her. He said he’ll speak to you as soon as he can, but to let you know now, so that you can be prepared.”

I reeled and reeled and reeled. What! Have ‘Peace’ in my house? I don’t know her. I didn’t say this to Michel. I told him to tell Seb that I got his message and will get back to him the next day, Monday. As we rang off, nanny came in with Paul, her man friend.

“Madam, good evening ma,” said Paul, with a deep bow. “Sorry ma, that nanny didn’t open the door when you knocked. She was massaging my back. I fell off a ladder last week, and my back has been poorly since then. She kindly offered to give me a massage. Sorry ma.”

“Oh, that’s alright. Today’s Sunday – nanny’s day off, anyway. Sorry about your back.”

“Sorry, madam,” added nanny in a small voice. I waved that away and told her not to worry.

“Thank you, ma. I’ll just see Paul off.”

When she returned, I gave her the lowdown on happening in Seb’s place, and we both put on our thinking caps.

Tara.


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