By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! Please bear with the Vanguard as I apologize for those Mondays that this column was not published, and thank all those who felt concerned enough to send me text messages, asking what was happening.
In all these years this column has been running, God has made it possible for me to send down scripts to the Vanguard. I’m sure He’ll continue to allow this for as long as the column runs.
However, it’s left to the Vanguard to publish what and when. So there! Your Treena is not to blame. The column is published regularly though, so, don’t stop taking the Monday Vanguard. Thanks.
Back to my vacation in the U.K. this year. I’ve always been an independent kind of person who tries not to depend on others to give her a life. My parents brought all four of us up to be this, instilling in us that when you rely on others to make life exciting for you, when you offend them, they’ll make sure they don’t.
I never thought that there would come a time when I would be at a loose end about how to spend my vacation. Before my children went to live abroad, the gals all took a vacation together, and we always had a fabulous time. As Liz and Boma remarried, and Becky and her husband began to run a church fellowship in their house, things changed of course, as each family had its own programme.
When my children, and then dear Vic relocated abroad, I had lots of company when there on vacation.
This time however, with Vic gone, Heather married, and Milwan distracted by other things, I was on my own. Gosh! I couldn’t organize myself on where to go and what to see and do.
What made things more lousy was the absence of my cousin, Ameena, who was away in Manchester. I found myself moping around the house feeling lonesome. Oh, the children did their best to entertain mum, and had me over at their places, but at the end of the day I returned to Ameena’s empty house.
Heather and Robert invited me to come spend some days with them. I could only spend two nights. Why? Well, they both work, and though I spend the day writing this column, and trying to run my office in Lagos from where I was, I felt I was in their way. They were very caring about my welfare, but my mind told me that as newly weds, they should be left alone; at least in their own home.
“Oh mum, must you leave tomorrow?” asked an astonished Heather when I told her. “You’ve only just come, and we’ve not had proper time to look after you yet.”
“We were hoping to be able to do this at the weekend,” said Robert, who looked visibly pained. “Mum, don’t you like it here? The place may not be as comfortable as you want, but …….”
There was an embarrassed silence as I decided what to do. Yes, they genuinely wanted me to be with them, but, at the same time, I knew there was some restraint on how they spent their time together in my presence.
I mean, if they both wanted to sit cuddled up together, watching the telly, reading a magazine or whispering sweet nothings to each other, they won’t be able to do this with mother/mother-in-law looking on, will they? After a hard day at work, they may want to meet up somewhere for a meal or go watch a movie, not rush home to look after mum.
We did go out together for a meal, and we had a nice time, but whenever they could, they squeezed hands or spoke to each other with their eyes. All very charming to my romantic heart, but shouldn’t the guys be left alone to savour the delights of newly-weds? Soon when they start a family, they won’t have the time to indulge in this.
My mind was made up.
“Thank you, my darlings, but I must move on. I have a million things to do and I want to get started. I’ve enjoyed every minute I spent here and I wish I could stay longer, but this is a short vacation. Next time, I might stay longer. I promise to pop in to see you every now and again before I leave.
You will come over, won’t you?” They looked at each other, and then nodded silently. They looked puzzled, as if they weren’t convinced that I had enjoyed being with them. The truth is I had, indeed, and I had thanked God in my heart that the couple were looking genuinely happy with each other.
The next day I was back in my cousin’s house. I did some shopping at Ealing Broadway, and then went down to the shopping complex in Hammersmith to visit the Pound Shop, where any item sells for one pound. I usually go there for books, mint and chocolates.
There was the usual crowd of shoppers going in and out, and the long queues at the tills. I was negotiating an aisle when I bumped into someone who had squatted to pick some items on a lower shelf.
“Oh, pardon me! I’m sorry,” I said automatically, and I moved on without waiting for a response or to see the face of my victim.
The next thing I knew, someone tapped me on the shoulder and then whispered ‘Hi my sweetie!’ in my ears. I halted; startled. The voice sounded like Edmund’s. I turned. It was indeed he. Oh, wao! Where did he spring up from, I asked. Delighted to see him, I was expecting the usual hug and brushing of cheeks, but he seemed restrained.
“Spring up from?” he asked, avoiding my eyes, though obviously delighted to see me. “I’ve been here for as long as you have. We took the same plane as Uncle Seb and his fiancee. Didn’t they tell you? Of course, uncle Seb wouldn’t dare mention a lowly creature like myself, but Belinda is more broad-minded. I thought she would have mentioned it to you.” I smiled and shook my head.
When he said ‘we’, was he referring to himself in plural, or did he have a travelling companion, I asked curiously.
“Er, well, er,” he stammered, touching the ring on the middle finger of his left hand. It was then that I noticed a lady standing on the other side of him. She was watching us intently. Middle height, ebony and with a bit of flesh like Edmund, but pretty. Suddenly, she linked arms with him.
“Oh sorry,” he said as he drew her towards me, spoke to her in Portuguese and then introduce her to me.
“Treena, meet my fiancee, Marje. I took her over to introduce to uncle Seb and Belinda during our flight.”
“Oh, this is wonderful, Edmund. Congratulations! You chose a pretty lady. You lucky guy!” I gushed as I drew the lady into an embrace. We smiled at each other. I liked her on the spot. “Nice to meet you, Marje,” I told her.
“Me too, er, er? What’s the name, please?”
“Ah, Me, Marje. Er, Edmundo speak to me about you. Many times.”she said with a short laugh.
“I hope he said nice things about me to you.”
I was about to repeat what I had said when Edmund told me that Marje’s knowledge of English was very scanty, and I was speaking too fast for her to understand.
“I see. Well, explain to her in Portuguese what I said.”
He did, and she nodded, laughing. Such nice teeth!
Several questions sprang up in me, like, was Marje in Nigeria at the time he came on condolence visit to Tayo’s mum? what were they doing in London? were they there to shop for their wedding? where were they staying? has he seen Tayo? etc. But I refrained from asking them.
Whatever he may have told the lady about me, I didn’t think it was proper for me to carry on a conversation with him in a language that she doesn’t understand much. She might misinterpret my intention,and that may cause a row with her fiance later I didn’t want that on my conscience. I don’t speak Portuguese, so, I kept silent.
Edmund too didn’t seem to know what else to say, so, I hugged Marje again, forced a hand shake with Edmund and I moved on to do my shopping.
I got a surprise call from him on my roamer later in the evening.
“Treena, love of my life, it was a pleasure running into you today; or, rather, you ran into me, almost causing a dislocation to my hip. So, how are you, my darling?”
“Edmund, are you seriously engaged to Marje? She seems a lovely girl and seems in love with you.”
“Of course I’m seriously engaged to her. And yes, I know that she’s in love with me. She’s been in love with me for a long time; even before I lost my Angolan wife, who’s a cousin to her.”
“I see. So, you’ve been having a relationship with her and cheating on your late wife? I can’t believe you can sink so low, Edmund.”
“Treena darling, let’s watch our language. I didn’t say I was having a relationship with her then. I never cheat when I’m married. I’m a man of principles. Actually, it was my late wife who told me that Marje was in love with me, because she told her that herself.”
“Your late wife must have been an angel. Didn’t she give the cousin a slap for such audacity?”
“No, she didn’t. She just made sure that Marje and I were not thrown together. So, Marje and her husband were no longer invited to our house.”
“Come again, Edmund. You mean Marje is married?”
“Was married with two children who are teenagers, and who live with their late dad’s family. She’s in her mid-thirties, and is widowed like me. Her husband died two years ago, and she’s been pursuing me since then. My late wife’s parents say there’s no harm if I marry her, so, we got engaged. I do like her. She’s good with my children.”
“Well, congratulations. But, pardon me, Edmund, isn’t she within hearing shot as you say all these to me? She might understand some of what you’re saying and she might feel hurt.”
“No, she’s not here. She’s out seeing to her hair. She told me she likes you.”
“I like her too.”
“I’m not comfortable with that. When you both like each other, then you won’t want me to flirt with you again.”
“Naturally. How did you guess that?”
“Well, I understand a bit of you.”
“When is the wedding and are you going to have any more children?”
“The wedding is no big thing. It’s going to be traditional, and then we might go for a blessing somewhere. As for children, no! I have five in Nigeria, and two in Angola. Do you want me to die early? I won’t be able to cope with maintenance. Marje and I have agreed that there would be no children in the union. My late wife’s parents insisted on that too.”
“Will Marje comply?”
“Don’t worry about that. She won’t get pregnant. If she is pregnant, then the baby won’t be mine.”
“I won’t tell you that. It’s my secret. Now, sweetie, have a pleasurable evening. Can I come see you tomorrow?”
“Of course not,” I said, outraged.
“I thought so. Goodbye, my love.”
I bid him ‘good bye’ too. I came away from the phone, wondering why he said that the wife won’t get pregnant by him. Had he been castrated, I wondered.