– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! Plans about Robert and Heather’s wedding has been put on the back burner for a couple of weeks because Belinda’s son, Simon, is going to wed the mother of his child.
“Why should that affect our daughter’s wedding?” I asked Seb, the lover-boy.
“Look, try to be more understanding and cooperative,” he told me sternly. “I told you that Simon got his girlfriend pregnant and she gave birth to a baby boy, and that Belinda had gone to Essex where the son is based to see the newborn.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Thank God you remember that. Now, the girl’s parents are saying that Simon has to marry their daughter, otherwise he would be denied access to his son. That’s not a nice attitude on their part, but what can one do? How can one have a child and not be allowed to see him and be a part of his life?”
“I sympathize with you and your madam on the matter, but why should we slow down the plans for Heather’s traditional wedding in Jos, just because Simon has to marry his girlfriend? I’m sure you mean well, but should you put his welfare above that of your own daughter; your own flesh and blood and your only daughter? I can’t understand that. Let Simon go ahead with his wedding plans and we go on with ours.”
“I have not said that we’re stopping our plans for Heather’s wedding. It will still hold this year, by the grace of God, but instead of the Saturday before Christmas, it will be the one before the new year. We’re postponing it by one week and Robert and Heather agreed. They understood.”
“That Simon’s situation is more desperate than ours. Belinda told the girl’s parents that a naming ceremony and baby dedication will have to be done according to our tradition. In fact, as soon as we arrived, she contacted a Yoruba elder who’s related to Simon’s late father, so that a naming ceremony can be done in his place, even though the traditional seven days is past. The old man has been living in England most of his life, and is a sort of custodian of the culture in his part of London.”
“I see. So, what’s the problem now? Are Simon’s girl’s parents opposed to that?”
“I don’t think they are, they’re saying that it would be ridiculous for their daughter to partake of such a thing with her child, when she’s not married to the father of the baby.”
“I thought you said Simon’s girlfriend is white. Her people don’t reason that way, and it’s the fashion in the western countries these days for people in a relationship to live together, have children, and yet not marry. Why should it matter to this girl’s people that Simon should marry her?”
“If you ask me, I think it’s the Nigerian couple who are their neighbour there in Essex, and who are close to them, who put them up to it.”
“Why do you think so?”
“When Belinda and I visited the girl’s parents and explained to them the need to have a traditional naming ceremony, they were quite delighted and excited that they were going to be involved in an African traditional naming ceremony. They didn’t mention anything about marriage. However, the next day, when I think they must have discussed it with their Nigerian neighbours, they rang to tell Belinda of the condition for the ceremony taking place.
We thought they were joking, but no, they were quite serious. Belinda wanted to tell them off, and say that no-one could force her son to marry the girl, and she didn’t care if the girl and the child got lost, but her son was quite distraught at the thought of losing his son. He said that even though he and the girl hadn’t discussed marriage, and the baby just happened in spite of the contraceptives both of them normally used, he loved his baby and wouldn’t mind marrying the mother in order have the baby in his life. I think that was quite touching. Belinda had t
o pipe down and grudgingly agree that Simon should marry the girl.”
“Did the girl say she would marry him?”
“Ah, well, Belinda went to quiz her and ask her if it was proper and acceptable for her to marry a boyfriend of a different race and culture, and with whom she had not envisaged marriage.”
“What did she say to that?”
“She said Simon is her ideal man, and that she wouldn’t have remained in their relationship that long if she weren’t convinced that he was the man for her to marry later in life. She said the event is only just being brought forward.”
“Sensible girl! I hope she’s gainfully employed, and not gunning for being a full-time housewife, or living on unemployment benefits like many young people there.”
“She and Simon are colleagues in a departmental store. Simon’s in Accounts, while she is in the sales department. She moved in with him when she became pregnant. From the little I’ve observed of the couple, I believe they’re fond of each other. They may not have discussed marriage, but they like being together. I don’t think the parents were happy with her choice of a man, and I suspect they were hoping she wouldn’t marry him.”
“What made them change gear?”
“Like I said, it must have been on the advice of their Nigerian neighbours. They told us to our face that they learnt that Nigerian men abroad usually abandoned the families they acquire there, and return home to marry from their country.
They said their daughter was an only child, and asked how she would cope if she were abandoned as a single parent, and with a half-caste child on her hand? The child wouldn’t fit into their extended family and the circle in which they move. He would be a loner all his life, and could become a maladjusted adult and a social misfit. They didn’t want that at all. So, it was important that he has properly married parents, and a strong presence of a father in his life and also an African family to relate to.”
“Those are strong points. Poor Simon! So, he was emotional about having the child in his life?”
“That’s understandable, isn’t it?”
“Why? He doesn’t have to marry the mother of his son. He’s good looking and has a good job. He can get any girl he wants and have other children.”
“Yes, but you’re forgetting his own background of being an outside child whose father didn’t quite bring him into his family; and the trouble he had with his older half-siblings from his father’s marriages, who rejected him and even prevented him from participating in the funeral ceremonies of their late father. It’s like he never had a father. He’s carrying that chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t want his son to suffer the same fate, hence his desire to marry the mother.”
I sighed and lapsed into silence. Seb asked if I was still on the line. I told him I was.
“Now, back to your question, Treena dear. I have to support Belinda in this wedding which has been fixed for early December at a Registry here in London. She’s relying on me to be there for her. I have to be, as her long-time companion and fiancé. She would do the same for me. Since there’s no problem about Heather and Robert’s relationship, we could move their properly arranged traditional wedding forward a bit. I’m sure you agree with me.”
I didn’t, but I kept silent. He had to ask again if I was still there. I told him I was.
“You’re sulking. That’s very childish and unreasonable. I’m surprised at you, Treena. I would have thought that you would be very supportive and sympathetic, taking into consideration that the old man you were engaged to for many years, and who you would have married if he hadn’t died, was Simon’s father. If you had married the late Chief Vic, you would have been a sort of step-mother to Belinda’s son. I’m sure that the malice you carry around with you about Belinda, prevented you from reasoning that way.”
“You’re wrong. I wish Belinda well, and bear her no grudge or malice. Why should I? She’s the one always finding ways of discrediting me to you. She’s the malicious one, and a vixen. I won’t be surprised if she cooked up this problem about Simon and his girlfriend’s parents, just so that she would disrupt my daughter’s wedding plan, and show me that you prefer her to me and our children.
I don’t want to say that she’s a manipulator of the highest order, but that’s what readily comes to mind. She feels so insecure in your relationship with her that she’s forever looking for ways to put a wedge between you and me, and show that she has an edge over me.”
“That’s all in your imagination, Treena dear. Belinda knows her place with me, and she knows what I’m capable of. She has her fault like the rest of us, but basically, she’s a nice person. If she weren’t, Chief Vic wouldn’t have dated her and wanted to marry her. It’s because he was a much-married man that she didn’t want to marry him.”
“But she allowed herself to get pregnant for him and increase the number of his children and women. I don’t buy that her story. Dear Vic didn’t tell me that version of their relationship.
They were both civil servants and colleagues. They had an affair which lingered. I wasn’t in the relationship with them, but being a man of honour, dear Vic wouldn’t have hesitated to bring Simon into his family publicly and tell his family that the child is his, if he were totally convinced that the baby was his. Yes, he did pay his school fees as the refined gentleman that he was, but he didn’t bring him into his family. That means something.”
Seb sighed helplessly, but I was elated because I had floored him and his madam.