After the storm
BY TREENA KWENTA
Hi Readers! First things first. I must express my immense gratitude to all of you who sent text messages to congratulate me on Heather’s wedding. Actually, texts had been trickling in since the traditional wedding in Jos, just before Christmas. The most recent are the large number commending Heather and me for her purity until her wedding night.
I was astounded that that should be a cause for commending us. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I’m not proud of my daughter for keeping herself, what I’m saying is that I’m shocked that virginity still means much to our society and world, given the laxity that seems accepted every where these days.
That said, a reader sent a text saying that it was foolish of the couple to wait until their wedding night in a strange environment, as, if the occasion wasn’t handled carefully, they could both become frustrated by the struggle and er, er, messiness that could occur that first time for the bride, and that may reduce the intensity of the couple’s affection for each other.
The reader suggested that they should either have done it after the traditional wedding when they returned to their base in England, or, they could have waited to get back there from Accra. He/she said such an occasion needs very delicate handling, especially if the couple were inexperienced, otherwise, it could discourage one (or both) of them from ever enjoying or even wanting intimacy again. Oh, I don’t know. This reader is probably an expert/counsellor on relationships and intimacy. However,
I was alarmed by the comment, but Tayo and Liz assured me that the person was talking trash, as the claims are not supported by any known statistics, or quotes from experts. I hope they’re right, as my ardent desire is that Robert and Heather should have increased affection for each other, instead of a decrease. And er, make me a grandmother as soon as possible. I’m sure I will make a good and responsible grandmother, don’t you think so? Of course I would. Should I take any credit for Heather’s decision to abstain until marriage? I don’t think so.
A long time reader of this page hit the right notes when he/she included my brother Joe, among those to be commended. This is because Joe and the brethren in his church always drum it into their young people to abstain until marriage. Milwan and Heather were their ardent followers while here in the country, and even now, they still consult them on spiritual guidance from their base abroad. I forwarded that reader’s text to Joe, and he was ecstatic.
He said it was the first time he was being commended for such a thing. I think he’ll now begin to see good in this column. Oh yes! It has always been his belief that it is too revealing, open and could be embarrassing to the characters. But then, he agrees that we’re all anonymous to you all out there, and detection is practically nil. So, we feel safe.
Sweetness and light
I had to plead with him not to go preach with my daughter’s matter in his church.
I wish I could report here that it was all sweetness and light, and I continued to receive praises from all angles. Oh no! Seb hit the roof when he learnt of it on this page. Yes, that’s true. I didn’t tell him what Robert took me aside to tell me the morning after the wedding in Accra.
Was it deliberate? Not at all. It just didn’t occur to me that I should tell him. Even now, though the gals were amazed that I hadn’t told him, I still don’t think that I’ve done anything amiss. I think I would look very silly to take an ex-husband aside to tell him that sort of thing.
I would if we were still together. We would hug and congratulate each other, and I would then get out a bottle of bubbly and some glasses, and we would drink a toast to our lovely disciplined daughter. That would be quite neat and tender, isn’t it?
But our union is over and done with, and I just can’t be expected to conjure up such feelings in order to make Seb feel happy and great.
For more than a week, he wouldn’t take my calls. Was I bothered? A little bit, because he had never cut me off like that before, and that was why I obeyed the gals and made an effort to ring him up every day. I thought Belinda would rejoice at the development. I was surprised when she rang me to urge me to be patient, and that he would come round. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell her that I didn’t care and that I didn’t mind being put in the cooler by Seb, but I held back. I didn’t want to seem ungracious by saying she should stuff her sympathy down her nasty throat. She may actually have meant well, who knows. Is that possible?
Then, just at a time when I was enjoying Seb not taking my calls, he did. Was it a relief? Well, sort of, but I also felt deprived. I got quite a kick out of disturbing him with my calls. What I did was I would set the alarm for midnight and 3 a.m., so that I could wake up to call him, and interrupt his sleep. It meant my own sleep was being disturbed too, probably more so than his, as he might have put his phones on silent and be able to sleep through out the night. But the thought of ringing him at odd hours thrilled me. “Treena, you’ve hurt me, ” was his opening line when he finally took the call, after a silence of about nine days.
“I have? Oh, er, I’m sorry to hear that, Seb.” was my response.
“That’s not the tone of a contrite heart, Treena. You know you’ve hurt me very badly. I thought I should stop speaking to you for the rest of my life, but Tayo led the gals here to apologize on your behalf. I was grateful to them for their concern, and I promised to forgive you and begin to take your calls.”
“Oh, you mean you deliberately refused to take my calls, Seb? Had it come to that? I’m terribly disappointed in you. There was I disturbing my peace and my sleep to ring you up, and you deliberately refused to take my calls. And you went to Mass during this period of blacking out Treena?”
“You’re trying to turn the tables, Treena, so that you won’t have to apologize properly. That’s wrong. What has going to Mass to do with your odious attitude and disloyalty?”
“Well, if you didn’t go for Mass, I hope you went for confession for harbouring malice and grudge against a fellow human being.”
“You should have done that, Treena. You’re the guilty one. You shut me out of delighting from the honour our son-in-law bestowed on our daughter. Selfishly, you kept it to yourself, and I had to read it on your page in the Vanguard. A most despicable act. In fact, I shouldn’t be speaking to you.”
“But you are. It’s 3 am, and you’re disturbing my peace, Seb. I need my sleep to be able to keep afloat.”
“I see. But you rang me, Treena. You disturbed my peace. Then you’re talking to me in such a haughty manner. Is this how to apologize for a wrong-doing?”
“Wrong doing? What wrong-doing?”
“Look, let’s end this conversation right now, Treena. You’re getting on my nerves, and my nerves are rather fragile these days. I’ll drop the phone now. Talk to me when you’re sober and ready to discuss intelligently. I need my sleep too.”
The line then went dead. Seb actually hung up on me? He’s never done that before. I must not over-play my hand, so, I sank my pride and rang him again. I looked at the time. It was almost half past three in the morning.
“Yes?” he said gruffly.
“Er, Seb, you said I hurt you? You’ve never said that before. What exactly did I do to hurt you, Seb?”
I could imagine him rolling his eyes skywards and asking Heavens to help him with the patience to handle me properly. He then went over what he had read in the Vanguard about Robert and Heather on their wedding night in Accra. He asked me if what I wrote on it was true. I said it was. He then asked if I didn’t think it was polite and ethical to let him know of such a thing concerning the daughter we share. I told him he was right, and he had every right to know when his daughter or son was commended. Then I had to put my foot in.
“But Seb, why didn’t you ask me there in Accra what Robert took me aside to tell me? I would have then told you right away. I think you owe me an apology for not asking me, and then taking offence when you read of the matter on my page. That’s not fair. You should have asked me. It’s when I refuse to tell you that you would take offence. See? Do you know, Seb, how much I’ve spent calling you and you didn’t take my calls? It’s enough to make one bankrupt.”
“What are you talking about? You’re not charged for calls that are not taken. I didn’t make you lose a kobo.”
“I’m talking of emotional and health expenses. Each time you deliberately refused to take my calls, especially those that I had to keep awake to make, something must have happened adversely to my emotions and my health. The damage may not be obvious now, but one may get to know later.”
“Oh dear! This is pure nonsense in the middle of the night. Look, I’’m ringing off now, and I while I won’t switch off my sets and risk blocking calls from my children, I won’t take your calls. Period.”
It was then that I told him I was sorry I hadn’t shared what Robert told me with him. There was such a long pause that I thought he had fallen asleep. I didn’t dare ring off though, since he was obviously still on the line, but I watched with much anxiety as the credit on my phone dwindled with the passing minutes. Torture!
It was a relief when his voice came on again. “Treena,” he said in an emotional voice, “never do what you did again. Never shut me out of anything concerning our children. I forgive you.”
Oh wao! So, he was really upset. I went into another round of sober and contrite apologies.
“I forgive you, Treena” he told me again. “Good night.”
I spent the next twenty minutes or so in sober reflection. My dad has always said that whereas women may easily dismiss hurts as they age, men feel every hurt that comes their way, especially from their nearest and dearest.
“As life takes its toll on our bodies and mind, and we’re no longer as agile, eloquent and good-looking as we used to be,” dad said on one occasion, “we become more and more vulnerable.
We want to remain relevant in the lives of those around us, but you find that people begin to side-line you and talk over your head as if you don’t matter any more. Of course, this may not actually be the case when we’re ignored, but it’s how we feel.” I’m beginning to see the wisdom in dad’s words. But isn’t Seb too young to feel hurt when he thinks he’s being ignored?
The next Saturday, he came early on a visit. His hug was tighter than usual, and his voice was a bit broken as he asked me to tell him everything Robert told me. To be candid, I felt a bit embarrassed doing so. I mean, it wasn’t a subject for every day conversation, so, I just gave him a short account of it. No kidding! Seb bowed his head with tears in his eyes, saying, “Oh, my baby Heather! You mean she brought us such honour? Lord, I’m grateful. If I had known earlier, I would have given her a gift too. I’ll still do that. Oh, I’m so touched.” He then subsided into silence. I let him be as I went pensive too.
“Hang on, Treena dear,” he said suddenly, getting up. “I have something in my car for you.” He then went out.
I was expectant; not knowing what exactly he was going to give me.
Oh joy! A brand new Apple IPAD2! I’ve been dreaming of having one, ever since it came out some months ago, and my cousin, Kate,who resides in the U.S., told me she had to queue up for long hours at an outlet in New York, so that she could get one at the recommended price of $850. I couldn’t see how I would ever get one, and now there was it in my hand. I went emotional and actually shed a few tears of joy, as I hugged Seb.