By Candida
Shortly after Lilians 50th birthday, her step-daughter, Tonia, came visiting. She’s Rex’s first daughter and since Lilian’s marriage, Rex’s first three children took to her straightaway.

They were quite young when their mother died, and Lilian was a natural ‘mum’ – and that’s what they called her. She is quite close to Tonia, especially after Rex’s affair with Ayoka got blown open, and they talked about everything and anything.

She’d just bought her own flat in her base in London and had come to Nigeria to discuss her future – she wanted to get married.

I could picture Lilian furiously planning the wedding even before Tonia gave any details. “Who’s the lucky man?” she asked enthusiastically. “Is he of our tribe? Are the parents anyone we know? Are they rich?”. On and on she went.

Thankfully, I was with Lilian when the discussion started. 1 tried to caution her when I noticed a slight scorn on Tonia’s face as her step-mum got carried away with the wedding plans. “I’m not getting married here”, he cut in. “Walter is British and he’s half-caste.

His mother is from the Dominican Republic. We don’t want an elaborate wedding – we just want our friends and close family members to be around, and…” “A foreigner? ” shrieked Lilian, `You’re getting married to a foreigner? What would your father say? A man we haven’t even met.

How long have you been going out with him? Do you know anything aboul his family? You know these British people can be a bit weird. Who would intervene when you have tiffs and how long do you think this type of marriage would last?

Tonia was getting a bit worked up at this stage. “There’s nothing more that can be said about this marriage – I’m already pregnant and living with Walter and we’ve rented out my flat. Our wedding is less than three months away- Dad had already spent so much on Femi’s hospital bills and we don’t want him breaking the bank on a simple thing as my wedding, so, all you two have to do is show up and give us your blessings.”

“A foreigner,” mumbled Lilian as if in a trance. She hadn’t yet taken in the dream of a show stopping marriage blowing up in her face. “How long do you think such a marriage would last, with both of you coming from different cultural backgrounds?

Tonia saw red. “No offence meant mum, but how long has your marriage to dad lasted! I wouldn’t call what you have now a marriage, would you? Was it not under your nose that dad brought in a stranger to our home, passing her off as a relative when all along he was bonking her?

Did this very woman not end up being a traditional “wife” to dad and giving him two kids before she had the tragic accident that claimed her life? And now that dad goes to the home-town more often than he has reasons to, what makes you so sure he’s not looking for a new wife?

At least, that was the fear you expressed when you came over on your last holiday”. I was shocked at Tonia’s openness, to say the least. Lilian was speechless, but Tonia hadn’t quite finished with her tirade yet. “Have you forgotten how devastated you were when Ayoka, who wasn’t more than a maid, gave birth to dad’s child?

On the few times you stayed with me, you were so bitter I was afraid you might harm someone. You cried into the night  most of the time and you warned me not to trust any man, remember? You even gave me the examples of all your friends that had bad marriages but were hanging on in spite of their unhappiness at being betrayed by men who swore to love and cherish them!

And half of your friends are either divorced or busy changing lovers. It’s not your group alone – how many seemingly happy marriages can the country boast of? I talked a lot with my friends and a lot of them have unsavory things to say about the types of marriage their parents have.

“We’re not knocking marriage, but we don’t want a situation where we would blame any future spouse because, thanks to your generation, we know just how deep a man’s love can be.  I mean,  take aunty Candy here…

“I quickly found my voice, “Heh, leave me out of your warped research. So you want to marry a foreigner; we can’t stop you. You’re already 27. We just thought you should explore all the options you have.”
She was a bit apologetic when she realized she’d gone a bit too far. “I’m sorry Aunty C. I’m not criticizing you.

Actually, I admire you for getting quickly out of an abusive marriage instead of hanging in there and losing your dignity in the process. You have a good job and a good home. If you were a man, women would be clinging to the doorpost, wanting to stay married to you. At the end of the day a woman is the architect of her future.

The way Nigerian men behave abroad, you would think they’d graduated from remand homes- without the privilege of any parental care. They hop from woman to woman and prefer whites who don’t mind giving them no-holds bared sex while spending money on them.

The ones who are British citizens are the most insufferable. They dangle their citizenship and gullible women who see wedding bells as a means of becoming citizens themselves are always used and dumped. Walter is not one of them. He loves me, his parents are fantastic and can’t wait to meet you…”

“Can you believe what you just witnessed?” Lilian told me as soon as Tonia flounced off to meet her dad. I bet she was still snirting from Tonia’s dig on Ayoka, but what could the poor girl do? She was already pregnant and was living with her Walter.

I told Lilian she should have respected her choice and wished her luck. “You mean you don’t see anything wrong with her permanently settling in Britain – with her children? The kids wouldn’t even know anything about their mother’s country, her people …?” “Heh, hang on”, I chided, “She’s not living at the back of beyond, you know?

Britain is a mere six hours away by plane- you spend longer hours on these luxury buses travelling within the country!”

That didn’t cheer her up. But I told her Tonia was right. How many of us have the perfect marriage, or any marriage to speak of? Yet, it’s not the end of the world. Successful women no longer wring their hands, begging the reluctant men in their lives to make honest women of them. Instead, a lot of them have gone ahead to have as many children as they could comfortably take care of. If the men in their lives offer financial support, it’s only a bonus.


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