– 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 eveningâ€™s reception for him and his guest at my place.
â€œTayo, why did you lie to me, a close friend from your childhood, about this event?â€ I asked, squaring up for a showdown with the hell-raiser.
â€œMe? Lie to you? Are you talking to me, Treena dear?â€
â€œYes, Iâ€™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.â€
â€œAnd that makes you accuse me of lying to you? See my trouble! How did I lie to you?â€
â€œI 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, andÂ I agreed. You didnâ€™t tell me that Seb had already discussed it with you and had suggested that it should be this lavish a reception.â€
â€œCorrect! I didnâ€™t tell you because you didnâ€™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 â€˜yesâ€™.â€
â€œIt was going to be an ordinary visit, but you insisted that dinner should be served.Â You were even dictating to me the menu for the evening.â€
â€œDoes that make me a liar?â€
â€œI felt like a fool when Seb said he told you to put this together for him. How can you be so disloyal to me?â€ I whined.
â€œOh dear!â€ cried Liz, impatiently. â€œPut a cap on all that, Treena dear. Stop behaving like a deprived child.â€
â€œYou mean a spoilt child,â€ said Boma.
â€œWell, sheâ€™s entitled to a bit of childishness,â€ said Becky, â€œbut letâ€™s get to the point. What sheâ€™s complaining about is very trivial.â€
â€œI agree,â€ said Tayo. â€œThe girl is trying to use her complaint as an excuse not to tell us what transpired between her and Seb just now.Â 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.â€
â€œAnd after weâ€™ve collaborated with her without her prompting, to see that Peace is delayed at the dessert table so that she could grill Seb thoroughly,â€ said Liz. â€œTalk about people being ungrateful.â€
â€œYes! 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, sheâ€™s using delaying tactics to frustrate us,â€ complained Boma. â€œTreena, 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?â€
With no sympathy from any of them, I had no choice but to tell them.Â 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.
â€œOh, alright, alright,â€ 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.
â€œWell, youâ€™re right there, but it wasnâ€™t Seb who told me, but Coco,â€ said Tayo.
â€œCoco is in Accra. What would she know about the matter?â€
â€œShe would,â€ said Boma pensively. â€œCoco 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 hadnâ€™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.â€
â€œThat Bomaâ€™s boss was all over the place,â€ added Tayo. â€œEven Belinda didnâ€™t escape his clutches when she was in that ministry, I learnt.Â 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 andÂ move on. But this Patricia stayed and became his wife; even having several kids for him. Itâ€™s a mystery that his wife didnâ€™t perish from all the stress of chasing women away from around him.â€
â€œCoco told you all this?Â That means sheâ€™s been keeping tab on all that concerns the man.â€
â€œShow me any ex-mistress who doesnâ€™t do that,â€ said Liz. â€œThey usually know moreÂ about a manâ€™s movements than even his wife.Â Still, how was Coco able to monitor all these from Accra, where she is at present? Could she be the spy in Sebâ€™s compound?â€
â€œNot likely,â€ I said at once.Â â€œShe and Belinda are sworn enemies, so, Coco couldnâ€™t have been the one telling Belinda about Sebâ€™s movements.â€
â€œShe 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,â€ said Becky.
â€œIncluding the Jos aspect of the matter?â€ asked Boma. â€œI think it must have been Seb himself who texted her anonymously so that she could storm the place and take him away.â€
We all stopped to consider this new angle.Â It seemed possible. After all, Seb could have refused to return to Lagos with her.Â Instead, he allowed her â€˜to capture himâ€™ and bring him back to Lagos.
â€œBut I think Seb didnâ€™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.â€
â€œIt was something they had arranged before this matter of Jos came up,â€ I told the gals.
Suddenly, the spotlight shifted to me, as Liz suddenly asked what I would do now.
â€œAs to what?â€ I asked. â€œI have no business in all this Patricia/Peace business.â€
â€œWhat I mean is, how will you cope in Sebâ€™s absence, now that heâ€™s leaving Nigeria for Ghana tomorrow for an indefinite time.â€
The others looked at me pensively, with concern on their faces. As for me, I couldnâ€™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.
â€œTreena dear,â€ said Tayo as she was leaving, â€œbe strong and donâ€™t allow Sebâ€™s absence to weigh down too heavily on your mind.Â Youâ€™ll miss him, but heâ€™s only an hourâ€™s flight away.â€
After she left, I tried to make sense out of all their sentiments.Â I couldnâ€™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.
â€œSorry Treena dear, youâ€™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 wonâ€™t have time to supervise this headquarters properly. Youâ€™ll have to find time for it as the deputy chairman of the group. Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ll manage very well and make profit. Iâ€™ve already told the heads of departments to bring their books up to date for you to inspect when you come here. Theyâ€™re all waiting for you.â€
â€œSeb, this isnâ€™t fair.Â You know I have a regular job I enjoy and donâ€™t want to quit,â€ I protested.
â€œSure, I know that.â€ he said.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t you tell me all these while you were here this evening?â€
â€œI couldnâ€™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.Â Tara, my love. â€œ
As he rang off, I felt weighed down by an undefined load. No, it isnâ€™t the work awaiting me in Ikeja. I had begun to feel Sebâ€™s absence.Â I woke up at four the next morning to bid him â€˜safe journeyâ€™ and good luck. His voice shook as he responded.Â I canâ€™t claim that mine was steady either.