– the fun-loving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! A reader sent a text to ask if Belinda was present at my daughter’s traditional wedding in Jos just before Christmas.
Er, well, I thought I could get away with not including her in my write-up on the event. She reads this page and from feedback, I know that she’s delighted when she gets a mention. This time around, I didn’t want her to have that satisfaction since it was my newly-wedded daughter and I that were ‘trending’ (a la internet) at that point in time. Also, I didn’t want her feeling that it’s news about her that keeps this decent column lively. A temporary blanking out was in order.
Yes, Belinda, just as I had been told, was lodged by her man two streets away from the family house. I understand that Seb brought her to his parents one night so she could pay them a courtesy visit. No, I don’t know how they received her. I deliberately didn’t ask Patrick that question, so that he wouldn’t get the wrong signal that I don’t wish his brother’s fiancee well. I would be considered petty and insecure if I ask him such a question. I do enjoy discussing people (not gossiping), but I do so with some decorum, in order not to lose my dignity.
Seb, whose best friend in the entire world is Tayo, of course told her Belinda was around. Behind my back, he took Tayo to go see her. Actually, I learnt that it was Tayo who requested that she be taken to go see Belinda. If I had been told before she went, I would have felt offended that she was betraying me by hobnobbing with the ‘enemy’, and I would have done my best to dissuade her from going. As it turned out, she was trying to protect my own interests.
She hadn’t told Seb why she wanted to see Belinda, and the latter was shocked to see her in the company of her man.
Tayo said they exchanged warm greetings and pleasantries, and she used the opportunity to congratulate her on her son, Simon’s, wedding in Britain.
Trust the blighter, she had to find something to crow about.
“She said that Europe or the USA is the best place for a wedding, and that she would never allow her two unmarried children wed here in Nigeria, as, compared with a wedding abroad, it’s like holding the event in a village. .She added that there’s also the wahala of the extended families to contend with, as one group tries to outshine the other party with unnecessarily expensive outfits and accessories. Because Seb was with us, I didn’t remind her how she and her friends wanted to outshine the gals at the party that held in Seb’s house the other year. You remember the party where they stalked us when we went shopping so that they could go purchase exactly the same materials we had bought, and render them a non-issue, to humiliate us. But a little bird alerted us”
“Oh yes! We remember that party, Tayo dear,”“ said Liz with a satisfied laugh. “”An invisible person broke into their chalet while they were busy dancing, and took their outfits away. ”
“That was quite an evening. Ha! Ha!” said Boma. “The outfits were later discovered inside the swimming pool the next day. Poor things! They were stuck with just one change of outfit whereas we had three. Ha! Ha! .”
“Hm! Happy day, that was!” said Tayo, at the fond memory. “They were close to tears when they went to change into those outfits and found that they had disappeared. You remember that I told Seb my role in the disappearance later, and he rocked with laughter, saying that it made his day. That guy is quite a sport. He’s the best.”
I told Tayo to skip all that her adoration of Seb and continue with the conversation she had with Belinda.
“Gathering juicy stuff for your column, eh?”
“Whatever. Just get on with it. How did you react to her bragging?”
“It wasn’t the reason I wanted to see her, so, I didn’t debate the claim. I merely nodded and told her that I shared her views on holding weddings in this country. That encouraged her to blow her trumpet a little more loudly. She crossed her legs and told me that she had already alerted Seb on the need not to have a high table to which so-called important guests would be called at the wedding. And there should be no recognition of anybody.”
“Did she say that?”asked an outraged Becky.
“Oh yes, she did! I knew where she was going. She didn’t want the gals recognized or called to the high table, and she totally ignored.”
“The wedding is not her business at all. She had no right to dictate what should obtain. God forgive me. I think that lady should be bound hand and foot and thrown into the bottomless pit where there’s wailing and gnashing of teeth. She’s just too much. Thank God you didn’t invite the rest of us along that day, Tayo. I would have told her off right there on the spot. I would have told her it isn’t her place to say how the wedding plans should go.”
“What did Seb say to that?” I asked Tayo, with some curiosity.
“He merely grunted. Personally, I was glad the conversation went that way. It provided the opening to what took me to see her. I cleared my throat as if I had just remembered something and I asked Seb to leave us alone. Both of them looked at each other in alarm. I put on my sweetest smile and told Seb that I had some girlie talk to have with his dame. He nodded and left the room. I didn’t want any witness to our little chat, or any secret recording of what I was going to tell her, so, I took her hand in a friendly way , told her she didn’t need her handbag which she had quickly picked up, and led her to the kitchen. There, in a low tone, I told her that I have a lot of respect for her, because of the high esteem in which the gals hold Seb, and also because she’s a human being.”“
“Is she?” I asked.
“She’s not been classified an animal yet, has she?”“
“”You can’t say”
“Sssshhh, Treena dear. I told Belinda that the gals can be as gentle as a dove, but when roused, we not only can roar, we bite huge chunks off people. I told her that her role in Jos is that of an onlooker, and not that of an event planner. I said if she oversteps her bounds, the gals will not take it lightly, and as she knows, we’re capable of fighting in public if the occasion demands it.”
“How did she take that?”
“She just stared at me. I had replaced the smile on my face with a dark scowl, so, she knew I meant business. I smiled, gave her a hug and warned again that the gals are watching her every step. I returned her to the sitting room and went in search of Seb.”
“Why?” I asked. “”Where you afraid you had said the wrong things?”“
“Nope. You know me better than that. Seb is a good friend. I had to tell him what I had told his madam. He looked shocked at first, but then he smiled and said he was neutral in the matter. That was all.”
“Well done, Tayo dear,” the rest of us chorused.
“We now know why she was mostly invisible throughout the ceremonies,” Boma remarked.
“That was very smart of you, Tayo” I commended. “You deserve a medal for wisdom. But for that smart move, the vixen would have tried to promote herself at our expense. Thank you.”
“I did it for Seb,” Tayo told me. “I didn’t want his woman disgraced by us without a prior warning. He doesn’t deserve to be humiliated that way at all. He’s the best.”
I sighed and left the room; tired of hearing how fab Seb is.
As I made my way towards the gates, I ran into Heather and Robert. They were holding hands and they glowed with pure happiness. My heart wanted to burst with pride and joy.”
“The newest couple in town,” I teased them.
“Thanks, mum,” said Robert. “Only twenty-four hours old. Mum, my wife and I have come to express our gratitude to you and the other aunties.”
Before I could stop them, Robert in all his finery, was lying flat on the ground and Heather was on her knees. I hastily told them to get up.
“My darlings, you don’t need to do that. You prostrate and kneel only to God. Okay, you did that a lot yesterday, but that was for tradition. I don’t think my friends and I deserve another round of this. We merely played our motherly role. Please get up.”
“Mum, you all deserve a lot more than our display of gratitude,” said Robert. “You made me and my parents feel loved. You’re all so caring. Can we go in and thank the other aunties too? Tomorrow, we’‘ll go round other members of the family in town, before we leave for Abuja and Accra. My parents are leaving for Lagos, first thing in the morning.”
“Oh really? Why the haste? I thought they’ll stay for another day so that they could do some sightseeing here, and perhaps see a bit of Abuja before they leave. It may be quite some time before they pass this way again. Aren’t Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London closed, due to the bad weather? They can’t leave. They’re welcome to go stay at the house in Lagos and wait for clearance to travel.”
“True, mum. Thank you. Dad told us that too, but my parents have changed their plans. They’re flying straight from Lagos to New York, and then from there go home to St. Lucia. They have to go spend Christmas there with the extended families.”
“What about you two here? You’ll spend some time in Abuja before going to Accra or you’ll come to Lagos with me, and wait for the London airports to be re-opened? Robert, you’ve never been to Lagos. I’m sure Heather and Milwan would like to show you round there. Spend Christmas with us.”“
It was Heather who responded this time. “ Thank you, mum. We”d love to be with you in Lagos, but we promised grandpa and grandma in Accra that we’‘ll spend the Christmas with them. It would afford us the opportunity to have some counselling at the church where the white wedding is taking place. We have to travel from Abuja tomorrow. Milwan is coming with us. Sorry mum.”
“”Oh no! I’m fine. You have a home of your own now, so, you have to make plans with your spouse, not with mum any more.”“
“”Mum, I’‘m still your baby”“ Heather said, coming to wrap her arms around me. Robert joined her too and placed his arms around the two of us. It was all so tender.
Wao! This couple is really a team. May their bliss last forever. Amen.