Shortly after Lilians 50th birthday, her step-daughter, Tonia, came visiting. Sheâ€™s Rexâ€™s first daughter and since Lilianâ€™s marriage, Rexâ€™s first three children took to her straightaway.
They were quite young when their mother died, and Lilian was a natural â€˜mumâ€™ – and thatâ€™s what they called her. She is quite close to Tonia, especially after Rexâ€™s affair with Ayoka got blown open, and they talked about everything and anything.
Sheâ€™d just bought her own flat in her base in London and had come to Nigeria to discuss her future – she wanted to get married.
I could picture Lilian furiously planning the wedding even before Tonia gave any details. â€œWhoâ€™s the lucky man?â€ she asked enthusiastically. â€œIs he of our tribe? Are the parents anyone we know? Are they rich?â€. On and on she went.
Thankfully, I was with Lilian when the discussion started. 1 tried to caution her when I noticed a slight scorn on Toniaâ€™s face as her step-mum got carried away with the wedding plans. â€œIâ€™m not getting married hereâ€, he cut in. â€œWalter is British and heâ€™s half-caste.
His mother is from the Dominican Republic. We donâ€™t want an elaborate wedding – we just want our friends and close family members to be around, and…â€ â€œA foreigner? ” shrieked Lilian, `Youâ€™re getting married to a foreigner? What would your father say? A man we havenâ€™t even met.
How long have you been going out with him? Do you know anything aboul his family? You know these British people can be a bit weird. Who would intervene when you have tiffs and how long do you think this type of marriage would last?
Tonia was getting a bit worked up at this stage. â€œThereâ€™s nothing more that can be said about this marriage – Iâ€™m already pregnant and living with Walter and weâ€™ve rented out my flat. Our wedding is less than three months away- Dad had already spent so much on Femiâ€™s hospital bills and we donâ€™t want him breaking the bank on a simple thing as my wedding, so, all you two have to do is show up and give us your blessings.â€
â€œA foreigner,â€ mumbled Lilian as if in a trance. She hadnâ€™t yet taken in the dream of a show stopping marriage blowing up in her face. â€œHow long do you think such a marriage would last, with both of you coming from different cultural backgrounds?
Tonia saw red. â€œNo offence meant mum, but how long has your marriage to dad lasted! I wouldnâ€™t call what you have now a marriage, would you? Was it not under your nose that dad brought in a stranger to our home, passing her off as a relative when all along he was bonking her?
Did this very woman not end up being a traditional â€œwifeâ€ to dad and giving him two kids before she had the tragic accident that claimed her life? And now that dad goes to the home-town more often than he has reasons to, what makes you so sure heâ€™s not looking for a new wife?
At least, that was the fear you expressed when you came over on your last holidayâ€. I was shocked at Toniaâ€™s openness, to say the least. Lilian was speechless, but Tonia hadnâ€™t quite finished with her tirade yet. â€œHave you forgotten how devastated you were when Ayoka, who wasnâ€™t more than a maid, gave birth to dadâ€™s child?
On the few times you stayed with me, you were so bitter I was afraid you might harm someone. You cried into the nightÂ most of the time and you warned me not to trust any man, remember? You even gave me the examples of all your friends that had bad marriages but were hanging on in spite of their unhappiness at being betrayed by men who swore to love and cherish them!
And half of your friends are either divorced or busy changing lovers. Itâ€™s not your group alone – how many seemingly happy marriages can the country boast of? I talked a lot with my friends and a lot of them have unsavory things to say about the types of marriage their parents have.
â€œWeâ€™re not knocking marriage, but we donâ€™t want a situation where we would blame any future spouse because, thanks to your generation, we know just how deep a manâ€™s love can be.Â I mean,Â take aunty Candy here…
â€œI quickly found my voice, â€œHeh, leave me out of your warped research. So you want to marry a foreigner; we canâ€™t stop you. Youâ€™re already 27. We just thought you should explore all the options you have.â€
She was a bit apologetic when she realized sheâ€™d gone a bit too far. â€œIâ€™m sorry Aunty C. Iâ€™m not criticizing you.
Actually, I admire you for getting quickly out of an abusive marriage instead of hanging in there and losing your dignity in the process. You have a good job and a good home. If you were a man, women would be clinging to the doorpost, wanting to stay married to you. At the end of the day a woman is the architect of her future.
The way Nigerian men behave abroad, you would think theyâ€™d graduated from remand homes- without the privilege of any parental care. They hop from woman to woman and prefer whites who donâ€™t mind giving them no-holds bared sex while spending money on them.
The ones who are British citizens are the most insufferable. They dangle their citizenship and gullible women who see wedding bells as a means of becoming citizens themselves are always used and dumped. Walter is not one of them. He loves me, his parents are fantastic and canâ€™t wait to meet you…â€
â€œCan you believe what you just witnessed?â€ Lilian told me as soon as Tonia flounced off to meet her dad. I bet she was still snirting from Toniaâ€™s dig on Ayoka, but what could the poor girl do? She was already pregnant and was living with her Walter.
I told Lilian she should have respected her choice and wished her luck. â€œYou mean you donâ€™t see anything wrong with her permanently settling in Britain – with her children? The kids wouldnâ€™t even know anything about their motherâ€™s country, her people …?â€ â€œHeh, hang onâ€, I chided, â€œSheâ€™s not living at the back of beyond, you know?
Britain is a mere six hours away by plane- you spend longer hours on these luxury buses travelling within the country!â€
That didnâ€™t cheer her up. But I told her Tonia was right. How many of us have the perfect marriage, or any marriage to speak of? Yet, itâ€™s not the end of the world. Successful women no longer wring their hands, begging the reluctant men in their lives to make honest women of them. Instead, a lot of them have gone ahead to have as many children as they could comfortably take care of. If the men in their lives offer financial support, itâ€™s only a bonus.