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Unraveling the mystery

– the funloving, but hardworking single parent

By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! As soon as Seb left with Peace, the gals crowded round me; wanting to know the contents of my conversation with him. Like me, they too had been surprised to see him back in the room so soon after he was called out to meet Belinda at my gates.

Trust me! Instead of going straight to the conversation, I tried to blast Tayo for her loyalty to Seb, and for not telling me that he had told her to arrange for that evening’s reception for him and his guest at my place.

“Tayo, why did you lie to me, a close friend from your childhood, about this event?” I asked, squaring up for a showdown with the hell-raiser.

“Me? Lie to you? Are you talking to me, Treena dear?”

“Yes, I’m talking to you, you slippery eel! In the course of my conversation with Seb just now, he disclosed that he asked you to arrange this reception.”

“And that makes you accuse me of lying to you? See my trouble! How did I lie to you?”

“I was the one who told you and the other gals that Seb was bringing his guest here to see me this evening. You, Tayo, was the one who said all the gals should be here to see the lady, and  I agreed. You didn’t tell me that Seb had already discussed it with you and had suggested that it should be this lavish a reception.”

“Correct! I didn’t tell you because you didn’t ask me. If you had asked me if Seb had told me he was bringing his guest here today, I would have said he did. Then if you had asked if it was going to be a sort of reception, I would have said ‘yes’.”

“It was going to be an ordinary visit, but you insisted that dinner should be served.  You were even dictating to me the menu for the evening.”

“Does that make me a liar?”

“I felt like a fool when Seb said he told you to put this together for him. How can you be so disloyal to me?” I whined.

“Oh dear!” cried Liz, impatiently. “Put a cap on all that, Treena dear. Stop behaving like a deprived child.”

“You mean a spoilt child,” said Boma.

“Well, she’s entitled to a bit of childishness,” said Becky, “but let’s get to the point. What she’s complaining about is very trivial.”

“I agree,” said Tayo. “The girl is trying to use her complaint as an excuse not to tell us what transpired between her and Seb just now.  Isn’t that why we are still in this place? We have a thousand other things to do in our houses, yet, we’ve stayed behind to listen to why Seb came back in quickly when he was called to go and see his madam at the gate. What we should ask ourselves is why Treena here is trying to divert our attention to another thing.”

“And after we’ve collaborated with her without her prompting, to see that Peace is delayed at the dessert table so that she could grill Seb thoroughly,” said Liz. “Talk about people being ungrateful.”

“Yes! We allowed our dessert to get cold and watery as we chatted with Peace, just so that this lady here can have time to grill Seb. Now, instead of filling us in on what he told her, she’s using delaying tactics to frustrate us,” complained Boma. “Treena, are you going to tell us what Seb told you or not? Do we have to turn you upside down and shake it out of you?”

With no sympathy from any of them, I had no choice but to tell them.  But before I began, I was curious to find out if Liz, Boma and Becky were also privy to what Seb had asked Tayo to do.

I had hardly begun when they all let out a loud shout of protest that almost brought the roof down. My dog ran to the front door and began to bark at it, wanting to know the reason for the disturbed peace in his domain.

“Oh, alright, alright,” I said at last. I then filled them in on what Seb had told me, and I ended saying that I was sure that Tayo already knew that Peace was not likely to be a wife to Seb in future.

“Well, you’re right there, but it wasn’t Seb who told me, but Coco,” said Tayo.

“Coco is in Accra. What would she know about the matter?”

“She would,” said Boma pensively. “Coco was a mistress to that my boss for several years and she had a running battle with his wife. You know that Coco is vivacious and flamboyant; not to mention very warm. She hadn’t joined Seb then and she was going round government ministries for contracts. Once my boss saw her, he was hooked and he directed me to be giving her contracts. Nothing earth-shaking, but good contracts. That was how she found money to buy two houses in that Isolo Housing Estate.”

“That Boma’s boss was all over the place,” added Tayo. “Even Belinda didn’t escape his clutches when she was in that ministry, I learnt.  His wife was tough too and no-one was able to unseat her until this Patricia came along. That was why his people accused her of causing his death. Usually, his mistresses collected his money and  move on. But this Patricia stayed and became his wife; even having several kids for him. It’s a mystery that his wife didn’t perish from all the stress of chasing women away from around him.”

“Coco told you all this?  That means she’s been keeping tab on all that concerns the man.”

“Show me any ex-mistress who doesn’t do that,” said Liz. “They usually know more  about a man’s movements than even his wife.  Still, how was Coco able to monitor all these from Accra, where she is at present? Could she be the spy in Seb’s compound?”

“Not likely,” I said at once.  “She and Belinda are sworn enemies, so, Coco couldn’t have been the one telling Belinda about Seb’s movements.”

“She could have been doing it anonymously, and someone, probably a worker or a domestic, was giving her all the details which she then sent by text to Belinda,” said Becky.

“Including the Jos aspect of the matter?” asked Boma. “I think it must have been Seb himself who texted her anonymously so that she could storm the place and take him away.”

We all stopped to consider this new angle.  It seemed possible. After all, Seb could have refused to return to Lagos with her.  Instead, he allowed her ‘to capture him’ and bring him back to Lagos.

“But I think Seb didn’t know that the family over there would insist on sending the lady down here. He must have been shocked when his brother, Patrick, rang to say he had put Peace on the plane for Lagos. Like he told Treena, Belinda had thought it was some provincial lady that had been shown him up in Jos, but when she saw Peace, knowing her history of being able to uproot a madam from her matrimonial home, she was troubled and became suspicious and uncooperative. I suppose whisking Seb off to Accra is the safest thing for her to do.”

“It was something they had arranged before this matter of Jos came up,” I told the gals.

Suddenly, the spotlight shifted to me, as Liz suddenly asked what I would do now.

“As to what?” I asked. “I have no business in all this Patricia/Peace business.”

“What I mean is, how will you cope in Seb’s absence, now that he’s leaving Nigeria for Ghana tomorrow for an indefinite time.”

The others looked at me pensively, with concern on their faces. As for me, I couldn’t see their problem. Seb was away in Britain for close to one year and I suffered no adverse consequence from it. Why should his decision to relocate to Accra affect my life?

None of the gals ventured to answer these questions. They changed the topic and Liz, Becky and Boma left. Tayo stayed until nanny, Paul and her driver had washed up her coolers and had them taken to her vehicle. We watched a TV programme in silence and had some more drinks.

“Treena dear,” said Tayo as she was leaving, “be strong and don’t allow Seb’s absence to weigh down too heavily on your mind.  You’ll miss him, but he’s only an hour’s flight away.”

After she left, I tried to make sense out of all their sentiments.  I couldn’t. Later in the night, Seb and Peace rang to thank me for hosting them. Much later, I suspect after Peace left for the chalet, Seb rang again to tell me all the preparations he had made for his absence; my monthly allowance, Ikoyi Club subscription, etc.

“Sorry Treena dear, you’ll have to be coming here, at least, once a week to oversee things, as Coco and I want to concentrate on reviving the Accra branch of the company, and won’t have time to supervise this headquarters properly. You’ll have to find time for it as the deputy chairman of the group. I’m sure you’ll manage very well and make profit. I’ve already told the heads of departments to bring their books up to date for you to inspect when you come here. They’re all waiting for you.”

“Seb, this isn’t fair.  You know I have a regular job I enjoy and don’t want to quit,” I protested.

“Sure, I know that.” he said.

“Why didn’t you tell me all these while you were here this evening?”

“I couldn’t, not with so many people around. Are you afraid of coming to oversee this place? This is where your allowance comes from, remember. Come and make it work.  Tara, my love. “

As he rang off, I felt weighed down by an undefined load. No, it isn’t the work awaiting me in Ikeja. I had begun to feel Seb’s absence.  I woke up at four the next morning to bid him ‘safe journey’ and good luck. His voice shook as he responded.  I can’t claim that mine was steady either.

Tara.


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