By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! I was so excited about the imminent arrival of my daughter and her boyfriend in the country, that I decided to go meet them in Abuja and come up to Jos with them.
“Why would you do that?,” asked Seb who had come in from Lagos the previous night.
Oh yes! He’s back in the country with his ego deflated. He’s come down from his high horse and was dreading going to face his parents’ wrath. I had been furious at his ‘treachery’, but I listened to my parents, and I agreed to attend the wedding. Fate, however, intervened to prevent me from going to endanger my health in the deathly cold and snow which struck Britain this year, simply because I wanted to please Seb and his dame.
The first thing he did when he arrived in Jos, was to look for me and then drag me along to see his parents. He said he didn’t want to face them alone because he knew they were very angry with him. For a minute or two, I wanted sweet revenge, and toyed with the idea of refusing to go with him and asking him to go face the music with his madam. After all, I wasn’t guilty of anything since I didn’t make the decision to go to Britain for him. However, a look at his face, and I could sense how distraught he was. He looked like a little boy who had offended his parents and was scared of going to face them. I felt a tug of pity in my heart.
I told him we should both dress down, wearing very local outfits, so that we would appear humble before them. I mean, it would be wrong for me to go there dressed in tight-fitting slacks (which I love), stiletto heels and a wacky top, and he in designer jeans and jumper. That wouldn’‘t portray us as being remorseful. Seb agreed and we both wore ankara native outfits.
“I look and feel like a rural Togolese or Beninois man-on-the street in these,” he complained, “and you look like a Balogun Street ankara trader”.
“Good! That’s what I wanted us to achieve. We should dress the part. We shouldn’t appear fashionable when we’re going to plead for forgiveness. If it were just papa and mama that we were summoned to see, we wouldn’t need to dress down, but you know how easily the elders get offended when you throw your sophistication in their faces.”
“You’re right. My gosh! I can’t remember when I last wore these horrible things. I hate them. They’re Michel’s, actually.”
“I thought so. You don’t look that bad. You’ll blend in. Will anyone complain? Your women are not here, are they?”
“Treena! You and your sharp tongue! Women are far from my mind right now. I just want to get this over! Okay? Mind you, it was your duty to advise me and dissuade me from going to London at the time I did. You should have insisted that I should stay behind so we could both come here for the preparations. I can’t believe that you allowed me to incur the wrath of my parents. Talk about leaving a cat to go drown in the pool. That wasn’t kind of you. You’re to blame.”
You can imagine how wide open my mouth went, but another look at him, and I knew that he was not in control of what he was saying. He was just letting off steam to conceal his remorse and anxiety. Wasn’t he the guy who said that he had to go support Belinda because he was all she had in the way of help?
“Did I say that? Really? I wonder why. Belinda could have coped all on her own. All I needed to do was to support her with money. She has friends and relatives in Britain to attend the ceremony with her. Are you sure I actually told you she was relying heavily on me to support her? That’s strange. At a time when I should be here for the preparations for my own daughter’s wedding?“
See the guy? I sighed and changed the topic of discussion as we made our way to the venue of the meeting.
He insisted on our going in, arm-in-arm, like a loving couple. I was amused. Who was he kidding?. The elders were seated, looking very stern. I don’t know how much of the mood was real, but he whispered in my ears as we stood before them that we should look contrite.
We both knelt down to ask for forgiveness for his making that trip to Britain when he should have been up in Jos all these weeks. I had to pretend that I was part of it too. We were kept on our knees (yes at our ages!) for about five minutes as his parents and some elders took turns to lecture us on the need to give respect to our parents, family and culture.
We kept our heads bowed, and listened with rapt attention. I had never seen Seb so remorseful and sober. At the end of the tongue-lashing, we were fined a sum of money. He didn’t have his purse on him, so, I paid. We were then told we were forgiven and asked to sit down so that they could welcome Seb and tell both of us how the traditional wedding would be conducted. It was as we were leaving that I told him that I would like to go meet Heather and Robert in Abuja and accompany them to Jos.
He tried to dissuade me from doing so, saying that it was unnecessary.
“You didn’t come down to Lagos to escort me to Jos,” he complained. ”You didn’t even meet me at the airport. When I got here, I had to send Patrick and two other people to go look for you because you and nanny had wandered off, like you were here on holiday.”
“Were you told that we had been going on picnics and dancing up a May pole? We’ve been very much involved in the preparations for the wedding. Didn’t Patrick tell you that? He’s been driving us around to shop for the items needed. Sometimes, we went to the surrounding villages where some food items are cheaper and fresher. I owe no-one any apology for going on walks which helps us to unwind.“
“There you go again, getting angry, Treena. Mama had been ringing to tell me how useful you and nanny have been since you got here. I was merely teasing you. Goodness! Can’t you take a joke any more. This is unlike you. You seem tensed up. What’s the matter, Treena dear?“
“Nothing is the matter and I’m not tensed up. I believe you’re so relieved now that the storm of query is over that you’re now picking on poor Treena.“
“Relieved? Of course I am. Who wouldn’t be? By the way, let me say how appreciative I am of the way you stood by me back there. I’m aware that you could have refused to go with me; after all, I was the one who offended them and was summoned, not you. Thank you, Treena dear. As for the fine you paid, I’ll give it back to you as soon as I go out to use an ATM machine.“
“Don’t worry about the money, Seb. How much was it, anyway? Only a small sum. I was only too glad to be of help. And now, I must go get ready so that I can go down to Abuja in the next one hour to meet Heather and Robert. Their plane gets in at four.“
“Oh, you’re really serious about going down to Abuja to get them.”
“Of course! I’ve contacted the branch of our company here, and they’re sending a jeep for me to use. I’m sure Heather will appreciate seeing me in Abuja. Robert too! I wonder if we can spend the night there so that they can take in the sights, and then we’ll come down here tomorrow afternoon. Yes, that would be nice. What do you think?”
“Do you really want to know what I think?”
“Yes. Should the couple and I spend the night in Abuja or not?”
“Not only shouldn’t you spend the night there, you shouldn’t go at all. I think the couple would want to be alone during the drive. You know how it is with young people in love. They would have their arms around each other; admire the scenery, kiss when they feel like and maybe the lady would fall asleep in her beloved’s arms. Meanwhile, the driver is like a statue, as he keeps his eyes on the road and pretend that he’s alone. Do you see the picture?”
“I do, but I don’t see how my presence will be a hindrance to whatever the couple want to do. I won’t be there to monitor their movement.“
“Treena dear, you’d be a hindrance – pure and simply. Who wants a parent around when you want solitude with your beloved? Even if you’re going to occupy the front seat, with the back of your head, you would feel what’s going on in the back seats. What couple want prying eyes? None. Try to remember how it was with us.”“
“I won’t be in the same car as Heather and Robert.”
“Why won’t you be?”
”I told you that the branch of my company here in Jos is sending me a jeep for the trip. The couple already has a vehicle paid for to bring them here. Milwan made that arrangement with a friend of his who runs a car hire company in Abuja. You and I know that ex-classmate of his, don’t we?“
”Yes, of course. I had forgotten that arrangement. It was made in my presence in London, actually, when the guy paid Milwan a visit and was told about the traditional wedding here.”
”I’ll only be in the convoy. I think it’s alright for me to go to Abuja.”
Seb sighed in resignation, but didn’t make any further comment.
Nanny came with me. As we were waiting in the arrival hall for the passengers to come out, nanny suddenly nudged me and nodded in a direction. I looked and there was Belinda, craning her neck to see the passengers that were coming out. I was about to give her another look when nanny sprang forward excitedly. Heather and Robert had stepped into the hall. I forgot Belinda as I dashed forward to hug my daughter. Nanny joined in the hug. We clung together for some seconds until Robert came to put his arms around the three of us.
Wao! What a good-looking couple! Already I was seeing in my mind’s eye, gorgeous grand children from them. I was bursting with pride and joy; then Belinda rushed forward to grab Heather and Robert in a warm embrace. They responded warmly. Then she turned to greet nanny and me; explaining that Seb and she had agreed that she should stay in Abuja to welcome the couple and then accompany them to Jos.
Wao! Now, I could see why Seb didn’t want me to go to Abuja. How did I react? I was too happy to be annoyed. I thanked her, and turned to ask the couple if they fancied a night and morning of sight-seeing in Abuja. They eagerly agreed, but Heather had to ring up her dad for clearance first.
“Dad said it’s okay,” she told the rest of us. I asked too if they wouldn’t mind us all travelling together to Jos in my company’s jeep. They agreed and Heather rang Milwan’s friend to cancel the order for transport. As we were heading for the hotel I invited Belinda to come with us. Understandably, she declined. Was that a shadow of frustration I saw on her face? Ha! Ha! That made my day.