– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! Tayo may be a hell-raiser you would sometimes wish were left by herself on another planet,but what can Treena do without her in her life?
But for her generous contribution, the impromptu dinner/ reception that the gals had for Seb and his latest girlfriend, Peace, would have beenÂ unimpressive.
The visit was going to be merely a courtesy call. I had loads of nannyâ€™s special snacks and a variety of drinks to offer them, so, I was okay.Â It was Tayo who not only ordered that there should be dinner for all, she told us what she wanted served, which of course, was not a poor manâ€™s menu.
When we rang off, nanny and I sat down to calculate how much money was needed – just under N30,000!Â How come?Â Well, thereâ€™s the gals – 4; Seb and his girl – 2; drivers, 4 for Tayo, Becky, Boma and Liz, one for Seb – 5; nanny and malam – 2. Thatâ€™s 13 people. And yes! Paul, nannyâ€™s boyfriend was around, waiting to find out from Seb if he had some odd jobs for him to do. Thatâ€™s 14 people! N30,000 for an eveningâ€™s meal was a bit outside my budget for that week, but what could one do? I raced down to Festac to access my ATM account for the money, gave it to nanny who left immediately for the market. I began tidying up the place and arranging the drinks and glasses; generally seeing that the place was in top form.
Tayo was the first to arrive. I was surprised to see nanny alighting from her jeep. I looked at the time – 5pm. My goodness!Â Where had she been all these hours? How was she going to get the food ready for 7 pm.Â I looked a bit anxious when she came to tell me she had returned.
â€œWelcome, nanny, but where have you been? You canâ€™t prepare all that food in one hour. It isnâ€™t an all-night event you know. Iâ€™ll probably have to come help out in the kitchen.â€
â€œSorry, madam, I was on my way to the market when Madam Mrs Tayo rang to tell me that I should come over to her place in Ikeja.â€
â€œWhat for?Â No-one told me that.â€
â€œShe said sheâ€™d tell you herself that I was needed there, and that it had to do with the preparation of the food to be served here. Madam, we didnâ€™t need to spend our money.Â Madam Mrs Tayo bought all the things over there in Ikeja, and her housekeeper and I cooked the way she wanted. Michel even came over to help out. Hereâ€™s our money.â€
Was I relieved!Â â€œThank you nanny.â€
â€œItâ€™s not I, madam, but Madam Mrs. Tayo.Â Madam, sheâ€™s a good friend to us o! She spent so much money. Apart from food, there are also a variety of drinks and snacks.Â Itâ€™s quite a feast.â€
â€œGod bless her,â€ I said, as I gratefully took back my money.Â I was moved when I saw Tayoâ€™s driver and her house-keeper bringing in coolers after coolers.Â Paul and nanny joined in helping to carry them through the back door to my kitchen.
â€œTayo darling!â€ I exclaimed when she came in, looking radiant and trim in nice and expensive slacks and top.Â â€œYou look smashing. Thanks so much for taking care of the catering. You saved me a lot of money.â€
â€œOh, itâ€™s nothing.Â Mind you, it wasnâ€™t to please you, but myself. Now, Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m going to eat what suits my tummy.â€
â€œThanks anyway. Nanny said you rang while she was on her way to the market.â€
â€œYes. Letâ€™s forget about who catered, Treena darling. And please, I donâ€™t want the others knowing that I catered. It isnâ€™t necessary. Accept all the â€˜thanksâ€™ graciously. Now, tell me about this girl that has come into Sebâ€™s life. Itâ€™s rather sudden, isnâ€™t it?â€
I gave her the lowdown on my trip to Jos, etc.
â€œHm!Â And Seb said that Belinda stormed out of the house when this Peace arrived?â€
â€œSo he said. He says sheâ€™s in her house in Isolo. Heâ€™s confident that sheâ€™d come round later, since she knows that heâ€™s only hosting Peace here to please his aged parents.Â I donâ€™t know how wise that is, but itâ€™s Sebâ€™s business. If you ask me, I think he likes this young lady and would like a relationship with her.â€
â€œMaybe. In the process of trying out a relationship, some men weave an intricate web around themselves. Belinda will get Seb out of this.Â After all, she broke protocol in going from Abuja to get him from Jos. Hm! I respect that lady o! You may find, Treena dear, that she really cares for Seb. I donâ€™t think I can stay in such a relationship where women keep popping out of all corners to try to attach themselves to my man.Â I donâ€™t think I can take that.â€
â€œIâ€™ll include that in one of my write-ups, Tayo dear, so that those my readers who keep urging me to return and re-marry Seb will read your opinion of the way the guy functions.â€
â€œOh no! Iâ€™m not condemning Seb, you know.Â Heâ€™s one of the best guys around. It was because he was so devastated when you left him that he just threw himself into the thick of womanizing.â€
â€œSay that again! Wasnâ€™t his womanizing the reason I left him? It was going on while we were together, remember?â€
â€œI know. What I mean is, with time, he would have had enough of roaming around. You had just returned here from abroad then, and he was trying to fit in with his mates. Dotun did that too.â€
â€œAnd you left him.â€
â€œYes, but not for his roaming about with women, but for his hostile attitude when I began to ascend the ladder of success in my place of work. He didnâ€™t like it so, he stayed in Ibadan and I in Lagos. However, thatâ€™s all in the past. Now, how does this Peace look like? Young and pretty?â€
â€œPretty? Yes. Young?Â Not really. Itâ€™s nice of theÂ gals to want to bid her welcome. Seb will be pleased.â€
â€œAnd surprised. I thought we should come look her over and find out if she can upstage Belinda. How do you feel about Seb taking a young wife and starting another family?â€
â€œYou want to know the truth, Tayo dear? I donâ€™t care a hoot.â€
â€œHm! I just wonder the motive behind the Kwenta family wanting him to take a young wife whoâ€™s never had kids, at this stage of his life. They must want him to start another family. That would mess things up for Milwan and Heather, even though they pretend that they love Sebâ€™s kids and want them to have an inheritance up there in Jos. I donâ€™t like that sort of thing. Thank God that Dotun spared me that; not that he had any notable property for our children to share with children he would have had from elsewhere. They should have left Seb with Belinda whoâ€™s past her child-bearing age.Â I hope Seb will be sensible in the matter.â€
â€œIn what way?Â I think itâ€™s a clear cut thing – he either wants the lady or he doesnâ€™t.â€
â€œWell, heâ€™s trying her out. Ah, the gals are here. What a lovely sight! Lovely ladies!â€
There was much noise as we brought in Liz, Boma and Becky, who arrived at the same time.
I fixed drinks for everyone and we sat waiting expectantly for Seb and his girlfriend.
Soon, his jeep swung in through the gates.
When he got down and saw the galsâ€™ vehicles, I saw him whisper to Peace, who was dressed in a waist-hugging flowing ankara dress. If you ask me, I think the couple didnâ€™t quite blend.Â Not in terms of the about twenty years or more in age gap, but in exposure. Seb looked the â€˜been-toâ€™ and cultured man, while his partner looked, er, well, innocently local. Belinda suited his personality more. Well, itâ€™s Sebâ€™s business. When I turned away from the window where I had been watching the couple, I caught the gals watching me and talking in whispers.
â€œWhatâ€™s the matter?â€ I asked irritably.Â I hate being left out of things.
â€œBoma says she knows the lady with Seb,â€ said Tayo.
â€œWell, thatâ€™s possible,â€ I conceded.Â â€œWhoâ€™s she? You know her well?â€
â€œPassably well,â€ said Boma. â€œSheâ€™s a sort of widow.Â She did her NYSC in our Ministry many years ago; had an affair with the overall oga who booted out his wife of many years and their six kids. This lady, Patricia, then moved in and they had four kids together. Later, when he died suddenly; his brothers came to chase her out and took the kids to raise in the east. She must be in her mid-forties now.Â She did Education, I think, and our oga was going to set up a classy primary school for her. He died before that happened. Nice and friendly lady, I must say. Better than our ogaâ€™s wife, who treated all our female staff with suspicion and rudeness.â€
â€œNice story, Boma dear, but the lady with Seb is called Peace, from Jos, and sheâ€™s never been married, and she doesnâ€™t have kids.Â Besides, sheâ€™s only in her thirties.â€
â€œI beg to differ, Treena dear,â€ said Boma heatedly. â€œThis is certainly Patricia. She served in my Department. I know her well. Yes, sheâ€™s from Jos and she returned there after her life here in Lagos. This is Patricia; unless sheâ€™s dead and itâ€™s her ghost weâ€™re seeing at Sebâ€™s side.â€
â€œOkay, call her Patricia when they come in, and letâ€™s see what happens,â€ I said smugly.
My sitting-room was charged with excitement as Seb and his girl walked in. We stood up respectfully to be introduced by Seb. I was by the door, so, he started with me. She grabbed my hands excitedly and said she had enjoyed meeting me in Jos. I told her I had enjoyed meeting herÂ too. Next was Liz, Tayo, Becky and then she was before Boma, who was ready with a smile on her face.
â€œHello Patricia,â€ said Boma, her hand outstretched. â€œLong time!â€
Peace began to crumble. Seb caught her expertly before she hit my carpet. It was like something he had been expecting, or maybe he had some practice in his ladies hitting the floor.