– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! I do my bit to play the Good Samaritan, whenever I can and extend largesse to people, but I draw the line when it comes to beingÂ nice and generous to those who I know do not wish me well.
At Ukaâ€™s daughterâ€™s traditional wedding, the food we ordered was brought before the caterer employed by parents of the couple arrived at the venue. Since we were at the back of the hall, it was easy for our caterer to set up and serve us and our guests, right there beside us. She had two young men to serve our guests, while nanny served the gals.
Itâ€™s embarrassing when guests you take along to a function are not served because the organizers donâ€™t know them. Iâ€™ve been a victim of such treatment several times in the past, simply because the person who invited me wasnâ€™t vigilant enough to ensure that I was served. So, the servers just passed me by. One didnâ€™t go there because of food and drinks, and one may not feel like eating the food served, but it hurts your pride when guests around you are served while youâ€™re left out.
Whenever the gals throw a party, weâ€™re on our feet most of the time, ensuring that everyone (high and low) who came, got served food and drinks.
At Nkechiâ€™s traditional wedding that Saturday, we made sure that the handful of friends we invited sat close to us, so we could serve them without any hindrance.
I was glad when our caterer showed up at the appointed time, but since the caterers for the event hadnâ€™t come yet, I suggested to the gals that we should wait until the official caterer comes and the other people are served, before we started eating..
My view was rejected right away, to my secret delight, as I was so hungry.
I was surprised when I overheard Tayo tellingÂ nanny that she would have to accompany the other two servers who were loadingÂ their trays with food and drinks, to another part of the hall. â€œDo we have our guests in that area?â€ I asked.Â â€œWe should ask them to come join us here, so that serving them would be easier.Â There are still some empty chairs in the next row.â€ â€œAll our guests are here,â€ replied Boma.Â â€œThe food is meant for Belinda and her relative.â€
â€œSay that again! Weâ€™re giving our food to Belinda and her relative? Why?â€
â€œAh, ask Tayo. Belinda rang her just now to say that her pregnant relative was very hungry, and since the official caterer hadnâ€™t showed up yet, could they both be served from our food?â€ â€œAre you kidding? You mean I contribute money for catering here and Belinda had the nerve to say our food should be served her?Â I canâ€™t believe my ears. Shouldnâ€™t Tayo have sought our permission first since itâ€™s a collective effort, before agreeing to feel Sebâ€™s fiancee?â€ â€œShe did.â€
â€œWhen?Â I wasnâ€™t asked, otherwise, Iâ€™d have expressed by disapproval right away.â€
â€œYou were eating when Tayo asked us, and you grunted. I suppose she took that to mean an approval.â€ I turned to Tayo on the other side of me and asked her if indeed she was going to share our food with Belinda.
â€œShe asked us for that favour and I asked around if we should comply or not. When it was your turn to answer, you grunted. I took that to mean you donâ€™t mind. Iâ€™m just about to send the food over to her and her pregnant relative. If you think we shouldnâ€™t, then I wonâ€™t. If the pregnant woman faints and then dies from hunger, well, so be it. That would remain in your conscience for life and further block your way to Paradise.â€
â€œTayo, that wonâ€™t send me to hell. I sympathize with the pregnant woman. See, letâ€™s send only one plate of food, and nanny should go give it to her. Nanny will then tell Belinda that we had just a plate of food left.â€
â€œSorry, I canâ€™t be part of such a mean decision. Look, my dear friend, Belinda is your ex-husbandâ€™s fiancee, and she may go on to become your childrenâ€™s step-mother. Itâ€™s in your interest to be nice to her.â€
â€œWhy? My children are grown and on their own now. They donâ€™t live with her. I canâ€™t see how my refusal to feed Belinda will reflect negatively on my children. I donâ€™t know why youâ€™re anxious to please a woman whoâ€™s constantly trying to put a wedge between Seb and me.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve just helped a woman who was trying to humiliate Liz. Was that loyal of you?â€
â€œOh dear, weâ€™re just going round in a circle,â€ I groaned. â€œOkay, send the food over to them.â€ â€œBut why didnâ€™t Belinda approach Treena?â€ asked Becky. â€œItâ€™s through Treena that she got to know the rest of us. Thatâ€™s a slight. It may be the real reason Treenaâ€™s sending the food over.Â Itâ€™s she that Belinda should have rung for help, not Tayo.â€
â€œBecky dear, for telling the truth, youâ€™re blessed forever,â€ I said with feeling. Until Becky made that comment, I hadnâ€™t really seen the matter like that.
â€œIf you ask me,â€ said Liz, â€œI think Belinda acted that way, in order to wind up Treena a bit. She had no business ringing up Tayo.Â Itâ€™s Treena, who sheâ€™s known for years and whoâ€™s her fianceâ€™s ex-wife, that she should have asked for a favour. That woman is demonic. She wants to cause a division among us.â€ â€œLiz, my darling,â€ I said with joy, â€œyouâ€™re blessed forever.â€ â€œLet me receive my own blessings from Treena too,â€ said Boma. â€œLetâ€™s tell nanny to tell Belinda that the food is from Treena.Â How about that? That would show her that our friendship here is solid and she cannot cause a split. I didnâ€™t even know that she had Tayoâ€™s number.â€
â€œBoma, youâ€™re blessed forever,â€ I told her.Â â€œTayo did you give her your gsm number?â€
â€œNope. She could have got it from Sebâ€™s phone. Isnâ€™t she always seizing his phone when she wants to block calls to him? See, Treena dear, Iâ€™m sorry for not thinking deeply about the matter before saying her request should be granted. Sheâ€™s a crafty one. Bomaâ€™s suggestion is very good. That is if you agree that we should send food over to her.Â Letâ€™s say itâ€™s from you. Agree?â€
â€œOh yes! I donâ€™t mind at all. Thereâ€™s surplus food here. Would it be good if I went with nanny to see her?â€
â€œDoes she deserve that honour?â€ asked Liz. â€œSend the food over with the message that Boma suggested. Itâ€™s good.â€
As nanny and a server left with the food, the official caterer and her team rushed in through another door and began to set up their coolers, plates, etc. Soon, drinks and finger foods were being served. You could see the relief on the faces of the guests who must have been hungry and thirsty. It was past three oâ€™clock.
Meanwhile, the groom had been taken to his high chair, and the brideâ€™s friends and auntiesÂ had been asked to go bring her out.
While we were waiting for her, two traditional dance troupes, one from Riversâ€™ State, and the other from Delta State, entertained the guests. Clarissa and the groomâ€™s mother got up to dance with their respective troupe. Uka and the groomâ€™s father didnâ€™t dance, but joined other guests to â€˜sprayâ€™ money on the musicians andÂ dancers. The groomâ€™s father sprayed his wife, but Uka kept away from Clarissa, and he sprayed members of the dance troupes and other guests, and also the groomâ€™s mother. The groomâ€™s father generously went and sprayed Clarissa. I felt sorry that Uka snubbed her again. Mind you, this was not noticeable as her relatives and friends surrounded her and were spraying her almost non-stop.
My phone buzzed. It was Belinda. I went outside to take the call. â€œMrs.Â Kwenta, thank you so much for the plates of delicious food. When I went to pay my respects to your friends, you werenâ€™t there. I thought, maybe you couldnâ€™t make it. Thank you so much.â€
â€œYouâ€™re welcome, Belinda.Â Â I hope youâ€™re enjoying the ceremony.Â Are you a relation of the bridegroomâ€™s?â€
â€œEr, in a way, yes, I am, but not directly.Â The groomâ€™s father is related to er, er, Chief Vic on his motherâ€™s side. You know of course, that Chief Vicâ€™s late mum was from Akwa Ibom/Cross River/ River. The groomâ€™s father is a first cousin to Chief Vic. That means my son Simon and the groom are cousins. When I learnt of the wedding, I made it a point to be here since Simonâ€™s in the U.K.â€
â€œSo, youâ€™re representing him? Thatâ€™s good.â€
â€œAh, if the Ikorodu side of Chief Vic donâ€™t want to recognize him, at least, these people count him as one of their own. They usually invite him, through me,Â for family social functions. He and the groom were born five months of each other, so, his mum and I are friends.â€
I asked her when she came in from Accra.
â€œAccra? Iâ€™ve not been in Accra.Â Iâ€™m in Lagos.â€ â€œWhat about Seb? Both of you were supposed to have travelled out to Accra so that the branch of the company over there can be revived.â€
â€œCoco is seeing to all that, I think. We didnâ€™t travel out to Accra. I used that ploy to get him to send that silly home-wrecker, Patricia or Patience, back to Jos. We didnâ€™t travel. Oh dear, youâ€™re not supposed to know this.Â Well, you do now. Iâ€™ll have to get back inside. Thanks again.â€
I couldnâ€™t make head or tail out of what she said. Seb has been in the house in Ikeja all this while? A headache was coming on, so, I quit thinking about it. Tara.