-the fun-loving, but hardworking single parent

By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! It was the festive season alright, but my heart became heavy as the time for Milwan, Heather and Robert to return to Britain, drew near.  After the party for them at Becky’s place they had just under 48 hours before leaving.  I jokingly asked if they would consider staying for Christmas.

“Mum, that would have been fantastic,” said Milwan, “but I’m afraid it won’t be possible, at least for me.  I don’t know about Heather and Robert.  Actually, I was supposed to resume work today, but I had to phone my boss to ask her if I could resume the day after tomorrow.”

“But that’s Christmas eve, Milwan dear. Should you be working on that day?  It used to be half day in Britain so that people could travel out for Christmas.”

“Ah, that was thrown out of the window many years ago, mum,” said Heather, with a laugh.  “You do a full day’s work these days, except under special arrangement.  Moreover it’s a long Christmas weekend, so, that concession wouldn’t be considered.  Just like Milwan, mum, Robert and I have to leave before Christmas.  There’s so much to do at work, and we don’t want to resume late so that we wouldn’t put our jobs at risk.   We’re lucky to be employed by our organization, and have duties that we enjoy.

A good mastery of French doesn’t readily fetch one a good job these days, and the competition for jobs is fierce.  Thank God, so far, our records have been good. We’ve both been  assigned work for an important client, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint.  You know that ours is a consultancy, and this client is one of our major clients and salary-payer.  Ha! Ha! ”

“Well, mum knows that one can’t afford to play with one’s job in a country where about two million able-bodied people who want to work,  are unemployed,” said Milwan. “Although our auditing period is over for the year, there are some tidying up to be done so that reports can be sent to our respective clients early in the new year.   So, much as we would have liked to stay and enjoy Christmas here with you, mum, duty calls.  Sorry, mum.”

“Mum, I would like to remain behind and spend this Christmas with you,” said Robert, coming to put an arm around me. “These two here have had the luck to spend many Christmases with you, whereas this would have been my very first one.  I wouldn’t want to miss this chance.  Mum shouldn’t be alone on this lovely occasion.  I’ll like to stay.”

“That’s great,  boy Bobby!” said Milwan, going to give him a pat on the back. “Mum cooks real good.  We miss her cooking.  You’ll have a swell time.  Eat our portions.  But by the time you return to London, I would have given  my sister to another smashing guy.   If you want to be near her then, you’ll have to work for both of them as their butler.”

“What?  You wouldn’t dare, man! It’s illegal.  She’s my wife already, remember! There’s a marriage certificate to prove it.”

“Which is in her possession and which can be made to disappear, and all records erased!  You stick here, and your bride is gone.  Mark my word!”

“That’‘s not possible, man. Are you the mafia or what?”

“Ah, this is Africa, my friend! We give our women to the highest bidder, and legally, even after they’ve undergone a marriage ceremony.  As her eldest brother, I have the right to take her from you and give to someone else.”

“Mum, that’s not true, is it?” asked Robert, faking alarm.

“Mum’s female. I’m the male in this home. She can’t go against my decision.  That’s the culture in Africa.”

“Hey man!  That’s tough. My mum should hear that. She would scream her protest. My dad would be delighted to know this, though.  That is, if it’s indeed true.  Mum, is it true?”

“That depends on what sort of female, and family, Milwan has in mind,” I hedged.

“Hm! But Milwan can’t carry this African culture with him to Europe and withdraw Heather from me  at whim, can he?”

Before I could reply, Milwan told him to start doing the right thing by Heather, and also saying his prayers so that he wouldn’t have to do that.

More jovial banters followed, and then all three left to go see friends.

I saw them into the car and waved them off.

“Madam must be missing them all ready,” said nanny, who had come out to join me in the garden.  “I know that I do.  I don’t know what I’ll do when they return to oyinbo country.   I feel like forcing them to stay here with us.”

“I’m sure you don’t want that for them, nanny,” I told her gently.  “You want the children that you’ve raised to grow up, stand on their feet and be able to take care of themselves, don’t you?  You don’t want children you have to cook and wash for throughout your life, do you?  God forbid that we should have such in this family.”

“That’s true, madam. Maybe I still see them both as children because they’ve been sleeping in their old beds.  If, for example, sisi Heather and her husband were sharing a room together here, I would see them as a married couple and wouldn’t wish that she would remain permanently here with us.  As it is, our son sleeps in his old bed, and shares the room with our son-in-law.”

I knew what nanny was getting at, so, for fun, I encouraged her a bit.

“Those are good points you’ve made, nanny. Er, how would you have liked the sleeping arrangements and why?  Your views are very important to us in this home, you know.”  That pleased her enormously and she settled herself into the chair opposite mine in the garden.

“Madam, why isn’t our daughter and her husband sleeping in the same room and on the same bed? I asked her and she told me that they were waiting for the church wedding to take place first, before they would start making babies.   Ha, that’s risky, madam.  She said they both made that decision as soon as they decided to get married.  I asked her if she sought counsel from you before she agreed to such a thing, but she laughed and said she was the one who wanted that, and the young man agreed.

I don’t support that at all. You mean all these several weeks that they’ve done the registry wedding they’ve not er, er, mated?  If it were another young lady telling me that, I wouldn’t believe, but I know that sisi Heather has always been a truthful person.  Were you aware of that their decision, madam?”

“Truthfully, I would say that I didn’t ask, and I wasn’t told, but I suspected that they would do that because they’re both born-again Christians.  They’re not supposed to mate before the wedding.”

“She explained that to me, madam, and I’ve heard our priest many times, advise our young people in church not to make love before their wedding, but our daughter has had two legal weddings.  I can’t understand the delay in husband and wife coming together.  How can a newly married man agree to such a thing?  Could it be that he can’t er, er, perform?  I’m sorry, madam, but that’s how many people would view his acceptance of such a thing from his new bride.  I would have thought that he would be very anxious to mate with her.”

“Nanny, you’re very right in all you’ve said, but I’m helpless in the matter.  As for the sleeping arrangement, no-one wanted to keep the couple apart.  It was their personal decision to sleep in separate rooms while here.  In Accra, they slept on the same bed and in the same room throughout their stay with the family.  And in Abuja where I went to meet them on their arrival, they spent the night in the same hotel room.”   A knowing smile crept into nanny’s face, and she nodded.

“”Aha! I’m happy to hear all that. They’re normal then.  I mean the man is normal.  They must have done it already.”

“Done what, nanny?” I asked innocently.

“Oh, madam, you know what I mean. You’re just teasing me. If the couple slept on the same bed and in the same room alone, it’s obvious that they must have mated.  I wonder if a baby is on the way.”

“Hey, so fast, nanny?  Shouldn’t we give them time to enjoy being together before we wish babies on them?”

“Madam, don’t say that o!  I know many brides who got pregnant on their wedding nights, and with just one mating.”

“Nanny!  Do you ask such things?  Isn’t that too private? I can’t even ask my own child such a question.”

“Madam, people brag about it, really, to show that they’re very fertile.  As a matter of fact, that was what happened to me, and to two of my daughters.”

“Lucky you, nanny.   I believe it’s all in the hands of God. Pregnancy doesn’t have to happen on a couple’s wedding night.  What we pray for is that there should be children in a union, and healthy ones, at that.  If God can grant that, whatever the time, then, one should be contented and grateful..”

“You’re right, madam, but one doesn’t know when God will begin to release the children in a couple’s union.  That’s why the earlier they begin to mate, the better.   But my mind is at rest now that I know that they’ve slept on the same bed several times.  Hm! Come to think of it, madam, didn’t you notice how fresh sisi Heather was looking at her traditional wedding in Jos?”

Oh my God!  See where nanny is going? It was an idle day and time for me, so, I encouraged her.

“I did notice that too, nanny. Even she herself told me she may have put on some weight because her grandmother and the other women had been pampering her, waiting on her hand and foot.  And also, she hadn’t had the opportunity to go exercise herself.  Don’t you think it’s the food and the rest that made her look fresh?”

“Madam,” she said in a whisper, leaning forward, “it may be what you and I, and I’m sure oga, have been waiting for o!   I mean pregnancy!  The mating may have happened in Accra, or that one night in Abuja.  Or even immediately after the registry wedding abroad.  Ah!   Thank you , Lord.”

“But I think we should wait for confirmation first because rejoicing about that.  We don’t know for sure that they have mated, and that there’s a pregnancy.”

Nanny appeared not to have heard me. “I wonder what sex it is.” she said to herself.  “A girl first would be best, so that sisi Heather can have a ready helper in the house, who will help her raise the other kids that she will have.”

“Any sex of a child should be welcome at any time, nanny.”

“Yes, madam, but please remember your promise that I will go look after the baby in oyinbo land. Ah, I’ve been looking forward to that.  We thank God for the arrival of a baby soon o!  Enjoyment for me.”

Well, I shouldn’t discourage this dream of nanny’s, should I?

Tara

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