-the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
I didn’t know whether to be pleased or annoyed that Seyi turned up at the airport to see off Milwan. We had sat around waiting for him and the others to check-in, when I noticed that there was a young lady, moving around from point to point with him. At first, I had thought that she was another passenger, but on closer observation, I discovered that it was Seyi. I was about to draw Tayo’s attention to it, when she nudged me and nodded in her direction.
“Treena dear” she said in an undertone, “now, handle this carefully. Chief ….. daughter’s with us.”
“Oh, you’ve noticed that she’s around?”
“Who wouldn’t? She’s been following Milwan around like a puppy. She’s an eligible young lady, but pushing herself forward doesn’t promote her. She’s pretty and rich enough to get any man she wants.”
“That’s what you think,” said Liz, who was listening in on our conversation. “Even the prettiest girl in the world can’t be sure that she can get any man she wants. I’m sure she’s got several admirers around, and possibly a serious boy-friend, but we can’t deny the fact that Milwan is attractive and eligible.
My daughter told me that Seyi met Milwan for the first time at that party at Becky’‘s. She had come in the company of a girlfriend who was Heather’s course-mate, and she just latched on seriously on him. I find that disturbing. Who are her parents, anyway?”
“Didn’t you catch the name the other day?” asked Tayo, with a giggle. “Chief and Chief (Mrs.) ….. of yesteryears. At a time, the gals gave the wife a run for her money when she thought the husband was dating me. She brought trouble to my doorstep in 19…. when I was living in Surulere, and thought she could disgrace me by shouting at me and calling me husband-snatcher. I refused to be lured into a fight with her, but later we all went in a group to deal with her in the massive shop she had in Ikeja.”
“Don’t tell me she’s the daughter of that foul-mouth woman ,” said Becky. “She was all over town herself then, dating the high and mighty. She was quite attractive too. That’s where this girl here got her looks from, I’m sure. The man was just okay. He had to prop himself up for notice with a large cigar in his mouth. Treena nicknamed him the Cuban guy.”
“Is that her dad?” I asked in wonder. “But, Tayo dear, he was your boyfriend at a time. I remember that. A big spender.”
“A big spender, yes! Certainly! My boyfriend, no! He was a good friend to my late boss then, and he pursued and pursued, but I never gave in.”
Refusing of relationship
“Hm! If you say so. He gave you contracts, right?”
“So? That didn’t make me his girlfriend. It was because I refused a relationship with him that he went to drop hints at home that he was dating me; thus instigating his wife to come attack me in my house.”
“Sorry Tayo dear. That’s true. We went to her shop to return fire for fire, and when she got to know the truth later, she rang to apologize to you.”
“Right. She asked for cease-fire and peace, and we became ‘friends’. She invited me to stay at their place in New Jersey whenever I was on vacation. Hm! Those were the heady days! The sinful days. Ha! Ha!”
At last Milwan, Heather and Robert were checked in and they came over to us for a chat before leaving to go through Immigration. Seyi, of course, came with them; holding Milwan’s Winter coat.
Heaven help us! What a leech!
She made a beeline for me, greeting me effusively, before turning to the others. I received her with my widest smiles and asked after her parents.
“They’re fine, ma. I spoke with them last night. They’re still in the U.S. Ma, I like those your drop earrings. They’re so chic.”
“Thank you, my dear. You’re looking lovely yourself.”
“Oh, thank you, ma. Milwan seems to like my outfit. I must get more of them when I travel.” Milwan looked embarrassed, and Boma, who was sitting close to me, muttered under her breath.
I was amused. It was good for Milwan to receive such crushing attention. It would spur him on to consider getting married soon. Seb has always said that the earlier a man gets married, the earlier he’ll embrace responsible behaviour, and responsibilities. I agree with him even though I don’t think any young person, be it male or female, should be rail-roaded into getting married at a particular age. Robert is about four years older than Milwan and he’s only just got married. Still, Milwan should have marriage on his agenda, if not this year, next year.
This Seyi may seem pushy, but who knows, she might make him a good wife. She has dainty looks, and seems eager to please me. Something within me told me that those are not necessarily what makes a marriage successful. Maybe. But does anyone have the right recipe? Treena’‘s disillusioned about marriage? Not really, but
Watching from the corner
“My aunties, mum, time to go, regrettably.” said Milwan, as he detached himself gently from Seyi, and began the round of hugs of my friends. Seyi, who I was watching from the corner of my eye, seemed puzzled by so much warmth generated between my children and the gals. Robert did the rounds too, adding pecks on the cheeks (a la French) when he got to me. Heather followed, her eyes a bit wet when we kissed and hugged.
“Mum, take good care of yourself, as usual,” she told me with some sadness in her eyes. “I miss you every day, but I tell myself that my mum is a big girl now, and can take care of herself in my absence. You’re happy, aren’t you?”
“By the grace of God, yes, I’m happy every day,” I assured her.
“If you’re no longer happy here, you know that you’ll always have a place with me and my brother, don’t you? You’ve done so much for us and we want you to be happy, as you say, every day. I wish it were possible to be with you always, but…”
“Don’t worry, Heather dear, you concentrate on being happy in your home. That’s very important. You and Robert are well-matched, but you have to ensure that you make each other happy every day. You’ve had so much counselling from all angles that you don’t need more from me.”
“Mum, I’‘ll need counseling all the days of my life. That’s normal. Your counselling is unique and special to Milwan and me, because you’re our mama.” “Thanks, my darling. Ah, come over here, Heather dear. I have a question to ask you.”
Group of friends
Robert, who was coming to join his wife, noticed that we had stepped aside, so, he went over to join Milwan where he was having a chat with a group of friends. I noticed that Seyi had been edged aside by another young lady who was claiming all of Milwan’s attention, and she was looking forlorn. Milwan didn’t seem bothered by that. He kept his back to her. Is that the language of love, I wondered.
“Yes, mum?” asked Heather when we were alone. “Are you okay, mum?”
“I am, Heather dear. Now, this Seyi who seems glued to Milwan; how important is she to him? Should your dad and I get ready to go see her parents?”
“You too, mum? Dad asked me that same question over the phone on the night of the party at auntie Becky’s.”
“He too? Has he met Seyi? Who told him about her?”
“Mum, it’s obvious that Ann must have told dad. She returned that night to my dad’s place in Ikeja to spend the night with him and auntie Belinda, before flying out to Port Harcourt with the kids the next day to meet Smart. It’s common knowledge that she’s very fond of Milwan, and if she can have her way, he’d have eyes only for her. She resented the presence of Seyi there that day, and was rude to the girl who brought her to the party.”
“But Ann’s married. Anyway, how deeply in love with this Seyi is your brother?”
“Deeply in love? With Seyi, a girl he’s only just met? Milwan? He has two girls he’s been dating for a couple of years now in London, and he’s yet to decide who to marry, or when to marry. Seyi is just making a nuisance of herself and wasting her time. Besides, she’s engaged to be married next year to a man in the United States, who has a Ph.d in Mechanical Engineering and is working there. He’s Yoruba like her, and parents on both sides are in support of the union. She carries his photo around in her purse.”
“You’re kidding me? You young people amaze me! Why is she keen on Milwan, then?”
“She says, Milwan is so refined, attractive and he comes across as a complete gentleman. I think the fact that we’re the products of several nations is also an added attraction. She’s quite smitten by him.”
“Who told you all these? About her fiancé, I mean.”
“She did. She showed his photo to Milwan.”
“Why? Was it to make him jealous?”
“Jealous? He’s just being polite to her. I asked him about her and he confessed that she’s wearing him out but that since he’s in the country only a few days, there was no need to shoo her off. Also, he didn’t want to offend the friend who brought her to the party. That friend was my course mate and she came there with her husband and Seyi.”
“But the way that Seyi carries on, you would think that she and Milwan are dating.”
“True. That baffles me. I wonder why she’s eager to give people that impression. It’s not as if her fiancé is around, to get jealous from the exercise. Waste of time, in my opinion. Okay, mum, time to go through Immigration now.”
We clung to each other again, Milwan and Robert came over for more hugs and they were gone.
We stayed to wave them out of sight. As we were leaving, Seb and Belinda rushed in. “Evening my precious ladies,” said Seb. “Have they left? The traffic on Bank-Anthony Way was terrible. Then we had a flat tyre. What a day!”
Tayo explained that they had gone through Immigration. He said no problem. He called Milwan on the phone, and told him that he and Belinda would meet them at the 1st Class lounge.
Seyi? When we turned, she wasn’t there. In fact, all the young people had left. Will she still pursue Milwan, I wondered. I don’t mind her, though.