– the funloving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi readers! A lesson for us divorced mothers is that it is unwise to try to use your children to fight the new madam in your exâ€™s home. You never know where the loyalty of your kids may lie, even though some may allow themselves to be manipulated by their mothers for a while, and theyâ€™re nasty to their fatherâ€™s wife. Wage your own war on the woman if sheâ€™s a nastie whoâ€™s always trying to discredit you in the eyes of your ex, and father of your children, but leave the kids out of it.
These words of wisdom are from my mum, and thatâ€™s why Milwan and Heather have always had good relationship with Sebâ€™s girlfriends through the ages, and, of course, with his fiancee, the odious Belinda. I didnâ€™t agree with my mum at first, but later on, I had to agree that she was right, as this attitude set my children free to form their own opinion of their fatherâ€™s fiancee.
Clarissa, Ukaâ€™s ex, exposed herself horribly at her daughterâ€™s traditional wedding, when she tried to stop Liz from being part of the event. While she was engaged in a quarrel with Liz in a corner in a room nearby, her daughter, Nkechi, was upset that her â€˜other mumâ€™ had not stayed with her as promised, to supervise her dressing up for her wedding. What an irony! I doubtÂ if Clarissa was aware of her daughterâ€™s affection for her fatherâ€™s wife.
She was floored during that confrontation with Liz when Uka, acting on a tip off, came to where they were, and whisked his wife away without a glance at her. The small crowd around, including some of her friends and relatives, looked embarrassed for her, as they quietly left her there. I saved her face a bit by taking her by the hand and leading her away to go join the others in the hall, where the ceremony was about to start. The gals thought I was stupid to have helped such an â€˜enemyâ€™.
â€œYou had no business bringing her in here,â€ said Tayo. â€œNot after the way she wanted to humiliate our Liz. When you happened on the confrontation, you should have come here to tell the gals so that we could go deal with her.Â Instead, you remained rooted to the ground and had the nerve to touch her and lead her here.â€
â€œBut you, Tayo, wanted friendship with her despite the cold shoulder she gave us at the Introduction. You said it wasnâ€™t every day we come across an ex-primary school mate.â€ I protested.
â€œTrue, but that was then, when she hadnâ€™t brought out her fangs against Liz. Now, sheâ€™s been crossed out of our good books. We were hoping, with the snub she got from Uka, she would be too embarrassed to come in here and take her seat by him, and we would have the pleasure of witnessing a traditional wedding where the mother of the bride, though alive and well, did not participate,â€ explained Boma.
â€œOh dear! Thatâ€™s very cynical and quite distant from our code of conduct, isnâ€™t it?â€
â€œTreena dear,â€ said Becky, â€œyouâ€™re right, but, for touching Liz whoâ€™s one of us, she deserved all the ill-wishes possible. If Liz wasnâ€™t able to take her on on her own, imagine the humiliation of her being marched out of the premises by that vixen! The whole of Lagos would hear,Â and the galsâ€™ reputation as ladies of class would be ruined forever.â€
â€œWell, that didnâ€™t happen, did it?â€
â€œIt didnâ€™t, but thatâ€™s no reason to save the womanâ€™s face,â€ said Tayo. â€œWhat you should have done after Uka came to lead Liz away, was to â€˜sympathizeâ€™ with Clarissa and tell her that the best thing for her to do was to quietly go back home.â€
â€œWould she have listened to such a diabolical advice? Not that I would have given it.â€
â€œDiabolical? Well, you could have tried, and who knows, she would have made history by absconding from her own daughterâ€™s wedding. She might have made the Guinness Book of Records.â€
â€œShe wouldnâ€™t have, for such a ridiculous thing.â€
â€œMaybe not, but youâ€™ve poured sand in our flour. Look at her fanning herself delicately like a lady and proudly smiling at everyone. We wonâ€™t forgive you for giving her that lifeline.â€
â€œTreena dear,â€ said Liz, reaching over to pat my shoulder. â€œTayoâ€™s just joking. There are no hard feelings. It was nice of you to help save her face. I doubt if she would have left, anyway. That would have hurt the bride. So, weâ€™re glad she plucked up courage to come in here.â€
â€œAssisted by a traitor called Treena Kwenta,â€ added Tayo.
â€œOkay, letâ€™s sheathe the swords now and enjoy the ceremony,â€ said Becky. â€œTreena acted in the best interest of all; Uka, the bride, the bridegroom, the in-laws and all the families and friends. We should clap for her.â€
They clapped silently with their fingers, and that was that.
The ceremony had started in earnest and the spokes people for both sides were doing their jobs well. I looked at Uka and Clarissa sitting together there, looking away from each other. How sad! How had their union been? Why did it break? Both dark and a bit hefty, they looked like brother and sister, in their Delta native attires. The gals had gone for expensive buba and iro, so that we would stand out among the mainly Deltan crowd. Curvy Liz looked great in hers. Sheâ€™s one of those women who always look more like girlfriends in their sophistication, than wives. Actually, thatâ€™s part of the code of conduct of the girls. No frumpy look because youâ€™re a married woman!
While all these were going through my mind, things were moving fast and soon the bridegroom was brought out by a team of friends and relations, led by his own mother, and her friends, who were all in the same lovely traditional attire. I was surprised. I didnâ€™t know that a mother can go bring out her son at the traditional wedding. Was it a Rivers State tradition, I asked Boma.
â€œNot really. But to show that you totally approve of the girl your son has chosen, a mother may do that. My mum did that at the traditional wedding of her last born. It went down very well with our in-laws,â€ explained Boma.
â€œIt appeals to me. Maybe Iâ€™ll do that when Milwan takes a wife.â€
â€œIs there a likely bride waiting in the wings for him?â€
â€œOh, I donâ€™t know. Milwan has several female friends, but I donâ€™t know if heâ€™s ready to zero in on any of them yet. Even his sister canâ€™t tell if he has a favourite.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry. His time will come, and you will lead him out, assisted by the rest of us.â€ said Tayo. â€œThat would be a record. Five â€˜mothersâ€™ leading out a son at his traditional wedding. The practice would spread like wild fire.â€
The bridegroom, amidst drumming and dancing, was taken round to greet the guests.Â Since we were right at the back, against the wall, he couldnâ€™t get to us, so we waved at him. He bowed in response. A cheerful young man in his late thirties, he reminded me of Smart the hotelier, Annâ€™s husband. Regular readers would remember that Ann is the daughter of Belindaâ€™s late younger brother, and his East European girlfriend. Belinda brought her up, and Seb played someÂ role at her traditional wedding. He invited the gals to come support him. We had a nice time.
As I reminisced, I was suddenly jolted by a sight. Who was that in the entourage of the groomâ€™s mother? I began rubbing my eyes and shaking my head to clear them of any â€˜hallucinationâ€™.
â€œWhatâ€™s the matter, Treena dear?â€ asked Tayo irritably. â€œAre you sleepy? Hungry?â€
â€œShe looks like sheâ€™s just seen a ghost,â€ chuckled Becky.
â€œYeah, a live ghost,â€ agreed Becky.
â€œThat looks like Belinda on the groomâ€™s motherâ€™s entourage,â€ I said, when I could speak.
â€œShe is indeed,â€ confirmed Boma.
â€œI didnâ€™t know sheâ€™s in town. I was in Ikeja yesterday, but no-one told me she was there.â€
â€œDo you go over to the house? I thought you merely go to the office complex next door.â€
â€œTrue, but shouldnâ€™t someone have told me that Sebâ€™s fianceeâ€™s around from Ghana?â€
â€œGhana?â€ asked Tayo. â€œIs Belinda in Ghana?â€
â€œOf course she is. She and Seb travelled down there together soon after the Patricia matter.â€
â€œAh, Iâ€™m not aware of that. She returned to Lagos from Port Harcourt some days ago, with the groomâ€™s mother, a cousin of hers.â€
â€œHow do you know all these?â€
â€œBelinda came over to greet us while you were away holding Clarissaâ€™s hand and comforting the blighter,â€ said Tayo with relish. â€œSince you didnâ€™t call us, we decided not to tell you Belindaâ€™s in the crowd, so that you can faint when you see her.â€
I thought of what to say that will sting the hell-raiser, but I was very hungry, and couldnâ€™t think. In fact, I felt faint, not from seeing Belinda, but from hunger. I lolled back in my seat and shut my eyes. A hard tap on my shoulder. It was Tayo.
â€œWake up and eat,â€she said. â€œThe raven has brought you food and drinks, like God told itÂ to bring to Prophet Elijah, even though you donâ€™t deserve that kindness.â€
Saved by the bell! The caterer the gals hired to supply food to support Liz at the wedding, had finally arrived. Nanny, who came with them, served her madam first, before she served anyone else. As I ate, I felt like the most important V.I.P in the room.