– the fun-loving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! The gals were enjoying themselves so much at the party for Heather, Robert and Milwan at Becky’s place that we didn’t leave, after all.
“Sorry gals, have you noticed that as far as these guys here are concerned, we don’t exist?” observed Liz. “With the exception of our own children, none of them seems to see any adult around.”
“That was what I noticed, myself,” acknowledged Tayo, “ and I was wondering if we need to bother leaving. They seem to be enjoying themselves without a care in the world about who might be watching them. Why don’t we stay, then disperse from here? Hey, Becky, I hope our drivers are being taken care of.”
“Drivers? They don’t wait for people to remember to come serve them. They off-load oga or madam, park their vehicles, then find their way into the party venue; unless you tell them to keep out. All your drivers are in that corner of the swimming pool. Can you see them?”
“Oh, that’s true. I can see them. They’re eating and drinking. Becky, please ensure that no alcohol is served them. We don’t want them being drunk at the wheel. One of the pool drivers I used last month fell asleep at the wheel when we were in a traffic build-up. I had a hard time getting him to wake up and move when the traffic started flowing. Even then, he was in no condition to drive as he kept falling asleep. I got scared, you know. Had someone drugged him, I wondered.
He was incoherent and he couldn’t keep awake. It was when I asked him to move over so that I could take over the wheel that I smelt heavy alcohol on his breath. The guy was roaring drunk! What if I couldn’t drive or didn’t have my driver’s licence on me? I drove both of us back to the office and drew the head driver’s attention to his condition. I learnt he had only recently been employed. The guy could have had one killed! I was quite shaken. I haven’t seen him since then. They must have fired him.”
“Where did he get the alcohol from?” I asked.
“Search me! He probably had a small bottle of ogogoro or another hot drink hidden somewhere on his person or in the vehicle. Since then, I’ve taken to searching any vehicle I’m using, for alcohol, and smelling the breath of even the drivers who’ve been with me for years. You can’t take chances.”
“I regularly have all our drivers at work searched and tested for alcohol while they’re at work,” said Liz. “A few of our vehicles got smashed due to drink driving, and management was furious. So, I had to come up with that precaution.”
“That was smart of you, Liz dear. I hope you understand our fears, Becky dear”
“Don’t worry, Tayo dear,” Becky assured. “You forget that we don’t take alcohol in this house, and there’s no way we can allow it to be served on our premises. ”
“Yes, of course. I had forgotten that. I usually make that plea when my driver is with me on an outing. You know, some drivers have a way of bullying the servers to give them beer or stout. Hey, Treena! Do you see what I’m seeing around Milwan?”
“You mean two ladies trying to outdo each other for his attention?”
“Yes, who are they? Okay, I can see that the one on his left is Ann, Belinda’s niece. But who’s that very pretty girl on his right? She looks so young and sweet too.”
“Oh wao!” said Liz. “She looks warm and attractive. The sort of girl a mother would like brought home to be introduced to her.
”Treena, you should accept this one o, if Miwan says she’s his choice,”“ said Boma. “I like her. She looks so innocent and nice. The type that will respect her in-laws. She looks well-brought up too.”“
“You mean you can deduce all this merely by looking at her?” I asked, amazed.
“Well you can always tell by observing them from afar,” said Becky. “I did that with each of the girls my two eldest sons brought home. I first observed them from afar when they didn’t know that I was watching them. So, by the time my sons brought them to introduce to their dad and me, I had made up my mind that they would be good daughters-in-law. They’ve not disappointed me yet. I pray they don’t. They’re good Christians. Oh, I had disapproved of several girls before those ones came along. Er, this girl with Milwan looks okay. Doesn’t look pushy.”“
”So, Treena dear, should we start saving up for their marriage?” joked Boma.
”Has Milwan said that marriage is on his cards now, and that this is his preference?” I asked, a bit vexed, without any reason. What was the matter with me? The girl looked harmless to me and anyway, Milwan hadn’t introduced her to me yet, let alone tell me that he would like to marry her. Yet, I just didn’t feel comfortable with the thought that she could be his ideal girl to marry. Oh, I want him to get married as soon as possible, but ………….
“Okay gals,” said Tayo. “Let’s drop talk of marriage between Milwan and that girl or anyone else. Our friend here doesn’t seem eager to let her son go yet. Don’t provoke her wrath by trying to match him with any girl.”
I said nothing to that comment because it suited me, and I didn’t want to prolong the conversation. I just wanted to sit back and continue enjoying the party.
About half an hour later, I looked towards where Milwan had been sitting. He wasn’t there. Ann was on the dance floor dancing with some female guests, looking radiant and happy. Heather and Robert were merged into one on the floor, dancing slowly, unaware that the rest of us were around. Very neat.
As I was wondering where my son was, he suddenly appeared in front of us, with the other girl in tow.
Oh ah! She was indeed lovely, but at close quarters, in a brash way.
”Aunties, mum,” said Milwan with a bow, ”I came to find out how you are. I know you’re the ones who put this party together for us, but are you okay? Do you have everything you want? Would you want me to ask a server to come take your orders?”
”We’re fine, Milwan dear,” said Tayo, getting up to pat him on the cheek.
”Would you like to dance?”
That raised laughter from us. ”Oh no! Thank you. I suppose I’m speaking for every one of us,” said Liz. ”Yes.” was our chorus.
”That’s sweet of you, Milwan dear,” said Boma. ”At our ages, when we want to dance, we just get up and get on with it, probably with some friends; like I see Ann doing. She’s enjoying herself, isn’t it?”
”Oh yes, auntie,” said Milwan with a little laugh. ”Ann is always fun to be with. She’s enjoying herself. Tomorrow she goes down with the kids to meet up with the husband for Christmas. Then, they’ll all go back to the U.S. She’s doing fine there, and Smart is thinking of moving there too to continue in the hospitality business.”“
”Will that pay him there? I would have thought he’‘s better off in Port Harcourt where they know his worth at managing hotels.” observed Boma.
”Ann says he wants the family together, and since the kids are schooling in the U.S. and are doing well, he felt he shouldn’t be here in Nigeria. Ann doesn’t mind the distance between them, though. She says distance keep marriage alive and well for couples. I don’t subscribe to that, but that’s Ann’s idea of bliss in a union. Okay, aunties, mum, I must go back now. I’m required to give the vote of thanks in an hour’s time, so, I must circulate meanwhile.”“
”Thanks for coming to us,” I told him. I looked from him to the girl by his side; waiting for him to introduce her to us, but he didn’t seem to want to. He looked me straight in the eye and raised his eyebrow. He bowed again and was going to leave us, but the girl didn’t want to leave without letting us know who she is, so, she took his hand and turned him gently to face us again.
“Sorry aunties,” she said with a pretty smile. “It would be rude of me to leave you without you knowing who came over with Milwan to greet you. I’m Seyi; daughter of Chief and Chief (Mrs.) ………… of ………….”
“You’re kidding!” said Tayo, getting up to hug her affectionately. “I know your dad very well, and er, your mum too. How are they these days? I haven’t seen your dad for years, since he retired from the board of my company.”
“Oh really, ma?” said Seyi, her eyes lighting up. “I’ll mention you to him. Perhaps you have your call card on you, ma?”
“Sorry, I don’t have one on me right now. When I said my company, I meant the organization I work for, not my own company.”
“I understand perfectly well, ma. I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear I met you. He and mum have retired fully now and they spend their time mainly abroad where my older siblings are – the United States, actually. I’m last born and I’m due to go do my Masters there too, but Milwan’s trying to convince me that Britain is the best place for me to do it.”
Milwan looked startled by what she said, and he looked at her in surprise. She smiled sweetly at him and patted him on the shoulder.
“Well, my unsolicited advice is that you should do what daddy and mummy say you should do,” offered Tayo. “They must have their reason for wanting you to join your siblings in the U.S. Come to think of it, your dad, er, sorry, your parents, do have one or two houses there, don’t they? In New Jersey, I think.”
“You’re right, ma. But if Milwan wants me in Britain, I would want to be there.”
We all smiled and fixed our eyes on Milwan. Embarrassed, he threw up his hand, as if in defence.
Tayo spared his blushes as she turned to introduce the gals to Seyi. She was surprised to know that I was Milwan’s mother. She had assumed Tayo was, and I suppose that was why she responded warmly to her. I’m sure she would have turned to me, if she had known that I was Milwan’s mum. She looked at me in awe, but I smiled gently at her, saying nothing. Milwan bowed to us again and they took their leave of us.
“Hm! Looks can be deceptive!” observed Liz. “That girl is wide-awake and pushy.”
“She seems a handful,” added Boma.
“And a trifle manipulative,” said Tayo. “Like her dad,” she added after a while.
“Not all that glitters is gold,” said Becky. “What do you think of her, Treena dear?”
“No comment.” I told my friends cheerfully.