BY TREENA KWENTA
Hi Readers! The next time that Edmund visited me, he came in a state-of-the art Lexus jeep. I was impressed.
“Wao, Edmund! You’ve arrived! You’ve made it big! I didn’t know you were worth this much. You must be swimming in Angolan oil. Tell me, do you have an oil block over there now?”
“You must be joking! A foreigner given an oil block in Angola? Even with their own people they’re not free with oil blocks like in this country. No oil block or flourishing wealth, but God is gracious to me. “
“Well, you’ve done well for yourself there. Congratulations!” I told him after the hug and cheek brushing.
“Thank you, my darling,” he said, trying to link arms with me, while I calmly pulled my arm away. “Hey, what’s the matter? Body contact forbidden? You’ve hurt me.” he asked.
“How have I hurt you, Edmund?”
“You’ve hurt me, darling, with your very unwelcome attitude. I’ve come thousands of kilometres to declare my affection for you for the millionth time, and you rebuff me. I can’t link arms with you, not to mention attempt to take you in my eager arms.”
“Edmund, you jester! Declare your affection for me? You can’t be serious. We’ve always been in a brother/sister relationship, and you know it. Why try to imply more?”
“That’s because I want more. Every body around both you and me, with the exception of uncle Seb, of course, thinks we’re right for each other.”
“That’s news to me. Who exactly thinks so? I don’t. You’re not my type. You’re too much married for me to handle.”
“Aha! Hear who’s talking. So, I’m defiled, eh? I don’t think so. You were once engaged to be married to a much-married man, who unfortunately, went to rest with the Lord before it could happen.”
“That was different. Dear Vic was special. He may have married several times, but he didn’t look it. He looked innocent. Whereas you look like a brigand who’s body has been thoroughly used.”
That drew laughter from him. “Look, sit down here and let’s thrash this out, Treena, the love of my life,” said the clown, coming to sit down with me on the settee. “A thoroughly used body is what a man needs to be considered a ‘he man’. I’m not saying anything against the late Chief Vic who I never met, but I learnt he was a refined-looking well-kept gentleman who always looked as if he had manicure and pedicure every morning. You wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing his body for long, and that’s not only on account of his age. I was told he was four times your age and looked it.”
“Careful now, Edmund, or I’ll set my dog on you. Don’t talk ill of the dead who’s not in a position to answer back.”
“Oh, come on, Treena, love of my life. Appreciate a harmless joke.”
“I’ve never been the love of your life. You’ve been married several times. Are you telling me that none of them was the love of your life? Care to tell me about any of them?”
“Of course not! A gentleman like me doesn’t discuss his love-life, certainly not with a lady he’s trying to woo.”
“Are you trying to woo me? Is that why you are in the country?”
“I’m in the country to see my aunt (Tayo’s mum) and commiserate with her and my cousins on the passing away of dear Papa. It was a shock to me when you e-mailed me. Have I thanked you for that?”
“I think you have – several times. But you can do so again. Have you been to see mama yet?” “Oh yes. Several times. She’s still in Abeokuta. When I leave here, I’m going back there. She’s mending well, but she needs company. I wouldn’t have thought she would miss uncle papa that much, to the point of wanting to be taken to sit by his grave every day.”
“Are you serious? Are they allowing her to do that?”
”Of course not. I’m going to spend the weekend with her, to hold her hand, tell her funny stories about my life in Angola, cook her favourite dishes for her, and generally make her feel loved and wanted. She’s very precious to me.”
“How nice of you, Edmund, to be so appreciative of her.”
“Oh well, she deserves that and more. Care to come along? I’ll love your company. She’s fond of you, and would certainly welcome having you around her. Don’t forget that she was the first to mention that you and I are well-suited. Say yes.”
“You don’t give up, do you? Mama told me that too, but it was because she was anxious for you to have someone here in Nigeria so that you wouldn’t go take another wife from Angola and settle there permanently. She suggested me because she wanted someone safe for you, not a very young lady who would want more children and money and give you hell, having boyfriends on the side.”
“Hm! Say that again! I’ve had my dose of that while running my hotels in Onitsha; wife feeling I was giving too much attention to the business and deciding to have some fun on the side. It wouldn’t have hurt so much if she hadn’t lodged her lover at one of the hotels behind my back. He didn’t pay a dime and then they both ran away.
That was the beginning of the set-back. Then irate mobs mistook my hotels for someone else’s and set them on fire. I’ve suffered. The two wives I married here showed me pepper, and then the Angolan one I adored, had to die just like that. Mama was right in suggesting you. She knew you’d be good for my life; bringing me good luck.”
“I don’t think so. You’ve made it big in Angola, so, be happy. I told mama it was nice of her to consider me, but I didn’t want a romantic relationship with you, as I consider you a brother, just like Tayo does. Wouldn’t she think I’ve changed my mind if she sees me with you, coming to spend a weekend together in Abeokuta? No, thank you. I go nowhere with you.”
“I have this suspicion that you’re rejecting me because of uncle Seb. I can’t understand why you’re so afraid of detaching yourself permanently from him. It isn’t good for your self-esteem, Treena love, to be so dependent on an ex-husband. I was astounded to know that that visit of his was prompted by the fact that your phones were switched off! My goodness! Can’t you switch off your phones without permission from him?”
“Don’t be silly, Edmund,” I said with a laugh. “That wasn’t why he came.”
“Okay, the true reason is even more ridiculous. He came to remind you that your visa for Britain had expired. Heavens! The guy is trying to render you helplessly dependent on him. I’m still trying to figure out why. If you were still married to him I would say it’s so that you’ll never leave him. But you’ve divorced and he’s engaged to another lady. If he’s so pre-occupied with your life, checking if your phones are switched on, remembering when you visa expires and a million other things about your life, what time does he have for the lady in his life, for himself and other matters? Isn’t it all stressful for him? I’m worried about him?”
“You are? Can you tell Seb all these to his face? I’ve asked you that before, haven’t I?”
“Of course, I will not. He’s not my responsibility. Look, to show your independence, go and get ready and let’s go down to Abeokuta for the weekend. Show him that he’s not the controller of your life.
Switch off all your phones and let him go searching for you. Be rebellious! Set yourself free!”
“Edmund? I won’t go anywhere with you. Give my love to mama and tell her that I’ll come see her when next Tayo visits her. Safe journey.”
“Are you chasing me out of here? Am I not welcome any more here?”
“You’re very welcome, Edmund. Er, by the way, congratulations, Edmund. I see you’ve got married again?”
For a moment, he looked shocked. “Married?” he asked faintly. “Who says?”
‘’The ring on your finger says. In case, you haven’t noticed, you have a wedding ring on the, fourth finger of your left hand.”
“I do?” he said, looking at his hand. “Ah yes, I do. I’m so used to having it on my finger day and night that I’ve forgotten it’s there. Oh, this means nothing. It’s just a ring to show some commitment to a lady over there in Luanda. There, you don’t go messing around with their ladies when you’re a foreigner; not if you value your life and your business.” “I understand that. You’ve told me that once. I hope she’s worth your attention and you’re enjoying the relationship.”
“It’s okay. As a human being, I have my needs and being in a relationship enhances business prospects. I earned respect there as a foreigner who doesn’t philander. However, I’ll drop the lady at once if you marry me, and go to live there with me. She wouldn’t mind. She’s just forty-something, but is a widow and grandmother of two. She’s fun to be with. She runs a business with her daughter, lives in her own house, and is actually my companion for business socials. She still wears her wedding ring. She’s safe for me. “
I congratulated him once again, but just as I was about to ask him if he would like a bite before leaving for Abeokuta, I saw Seb swing in through the gates, with Belinda in the passenger seat. They both seemed in very good mood.
Edmund froze when I mentioned Seb, but smiled when I told him who was with him. “Goodness!
Well, I”d better be going.”
“Now, that would look suspicious. Wait and have a chat with them.” “Okay.”
Belinda delightedly shook hands with Edmund as soon as she and Seb came in.
“I’m Belinda” she introduced herself “I’m told you’re Tayo’s cousin, who her mum raised.”
“That’s right, madam. I’m Edmund. Nice to meet you, madam. Er, I know you’re uncle Seb’s fiancee.” “That’s true. Hm! Is that vehicle yours? It’s terrific. I’m envious. Seb darling, we must buy one. It’s a delight. “she gushed.
Seb merely grunted.
“Uncle Seb,”said Edmund, “ I came to redeem my image, after your disapproval of the state of the taxi I came in last time. I hope the Lexus won’t bring disgrace to the premises.”
Seb ignored him. Belinda giggled. Seb must have told her of the encounter.
“Treena dear,” he said, “Belinda and I are driving down to see mama in Abeokuta. And since Tayo’s away, we thought you should come along. Care to come?”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll come along. Actually, Edmund came to invite me to go with him there, and I was wondering whether to accept or not.
Maybe we can all go down together.”
“That’s great,” enthused Belinda. “Seb, could we leave our vehicle here and enjoy the Lexus to and fro?” Seb glared at her, but said nothing.
“Okay, we”ll go in a convoy then.” she amended. Edmund was leading me to his vehicle whep Seb came between us and led me to his jeep..
That drew a frown from Seb, but a secret smile from me. I took my seat at the back and waved to Edmund, who responded by blowing me a kiss. He sure knows how to rattle Seb.