-the fun-loving, but hardworking single parent
By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers!Nanny and I arrived here in Accra yesterday, a week ahead of Heather’s white wedding. Boy! It was nice to see my parents looking so well and happy. Aunt Adeline too! I became like a little girl once again as I hugged each of them over and over again. The sudden death of Tayo’s dad made me appreciate my parents being alive, and I asked after their health solicitously.”
“Oh, we’re fine, Treena dear,” said dad. “It’s so nice to have you here with us, child.”
“And for such a joyous occasion too,” added mum.
“Oh yes!” said Aunt Adeline. “We’re all bursting with pride over here that a daughter from this family attracted a man all the way from across the Atlantic Ocean to Accra! Can you imagine that! Other family units within our extended family here in Ghana are so envious of this arm of the family. The small church and the reception hall will be bursting at the seams, you’ll see. I’m so so satisfied with all these.”
“That’s true, but we must give the credit to Seb who decided that the white wedding should hold here since we couldn’t attend the traditional wedding which his parents hosted up in Jos. Don’t forget that the bride is a Nigerian from Benue State. For the father to concede holding her white wedding in her maternal grandfather’s maternal country is so noble. Seb’s one of the most decent people I’ve come across so far.”
“Is he now, dad?” I asked with a tiny hint of sarcasm.
“Er, well, let’s say he’s one of the most reasonable,” he amended.
“Gosh! My parents must be seeing in Seb, what I hadn’t seen in him when we were man and wife,” I remarked, determined to put an end to this accolade that dad, of all people, was heaping on Seb. Decent? In what sense? Well, he’s cultured and refined in manners, but should we say that a married man who indulges in wanton womanizing is decent? Reasonable? Certainly not when you hurt the woman you claim is the love of your life, with endless and unbridled philandering. Of course I didn’t voice these my thoughts, but they must have reflected on my face, because my aunt now said that her brother’s remarks were of a repented Seb.
“Treena darling,” she cooed at me, “remove that thunder from your lovely face. My brother’s praises are of a post-marriage Seb, not when you were together.”
“Oh auntie!” I goshed. “You’re a saint.”
“Hey, not really, dear,” she said hastily. “We don’t want the worms that ate up Herod when he allowed himself to be called a god, to rear up their ugly heads here, do we? I’m very far from being a saint. I just wanted to amend what my brother said, and bring back smiles to your face.”
“Thank you, auntie dear. The smiles are back,” I told her, going to brush my lips against her cheek.
“That’s great,” said my mum. “Treena’s face is glowing. Dad was only saying how much we appreciate Seb, and the many good decisions he makes, concerning us. Of course, things haven’t always been like this, but …………………”
“You’re right, my dear” said dad, looking at me with some amusement. “I’m sure Treena understands that. I didn’t spare Seb in those days. You remember that.”
“Of course she does. We both didn’t spare him at all, but, hey! Isn’t all that in the past now?”
“You’re right, my dear, so, let’s put the sordid past behind us, and appreciate what Seb has been to us in many years now,” said dad, putting a lid on the conversation. Agreed, love?”
“Yes, dad. It’s so nice seeing the three of you looking so well and strong. Praise God.”
“Thank you, dear,” they all murmured.
“Now dear,” said mum, “tell us about your visit to Abeokuta, and the passing on of Tayo’s father. It was rather sudden, wasn’t it. Seb told us he drove all of you down there with Tayo. So, was he alive when you got to their village?”
“He was, barely. We couldn’t go in to see him, because er, mama, that is, Tayo’s mum, was upset about the presence of papa’s two young wives. They were exchanging words in the room where he was.
“His two doctors and Tayo’s brothers were in there too, so the place was crowded. Understandably, only Tayo went to join them, while the rest of us stayed in the parlour. People joined us in the night and when he passed on, there were accelerated activities so that his wish that he be buried within 24 hours would be carried out. He was buried late afternoon next day, after a short service at their local church.
“Then there was a small reception in the house, after which the gals and nanny returned to Lagos, at Tayo’s insistence. We spent only a night there.”
While I was speaking, I noticed that mum had got up to go sit by her husband, and a minute later, my aunt went to sit on the other side of dad. Both women sandwiched him between them, and took his hands as if consoling him. He nodded at them, and then sat back in the settee, looking pensive.
Aunt Adeline, after a while asked if it was true that Tayo’s dad actually took two young wives.
I hesitated a bit, not wanting to add to my sins of the day by engaging in an unsavoury gossip. It was the Lenten season, for God’s sake! I had been treading carefully since Ash Wednesday. ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ Still I had to give my aunt an answer.
“Er, well, that’s something one couldn’t understand, but it happened, I think,” I said in a dismissive voice. I forgot that you can’t fob off my aunt when she’s determined to extract some information from you.
“Did you actually see these Bade’s young wives?” she asked.
“Who’s Bade, auntie dear?” I asked, puzzled.
“Bade is the name of Tayo’s father, don’t you know, Treena dear?”
“But, but, auntie, you’ve never met Tayo’s father. You don’t know him.”
“Where did you get that wrong information from? I know him very well. He was my boss for almost two years. He was my brother’s good friend back in those days. A popular man. Besides being the boss in the department, he was tall and quite good-looking, and women practically swooned at his feet..”
I almost fell off my chair in astonishment. Strange how Tayo could be a very close friend of mine for many years and I don’t know the dad’s first name. Come to think of it, I don’t know her mum’s first name either. Does she know those of my parents’? I can’t say.
Just how well did my aunt know this Bade? Hm! Auntie Adeline didn’t seem too keen on supplying more information on the subject, and I wanted to know more. What to do? I noticed that my parents were smiling. Mum looked like she was going to speak, but changed her mind.
Dad then explained. “When Adeline was widowed so young in her first marriage, I invited her over to Ibadan to live with us for a while, so she could get herself together and we would plan for her future. Tayo’s dad and I were working in the federal ministry of agriculture then, so, I got her a job as an admin clerk there. He was head of that department, while I was head of accounts. Coincidentally, your mum and Tayo’s mum were colleagues in an arm of the ministry of social welfare then. So, the two families were a bit close. This was before I sent my sister to go learn nursing in England. Tayo’s dad was a good civil servant. He retired in a blaze of glory.”
“So did you too, my dear,” said mum to him, squeezing his hand. “You were highly praised at the retirement party.”
“Thanks, my dear. We all retired with great honour,” said dad generously. “My friend will be greatly missed. He was the livewire of that arm of the ministry in Ibadan during our time there. Friendly and generous. Just like his daughter Tayo, is. May he rest in peace.”
We all said ‘Amen’.
“So, Pade went on to take more wives in his old age, eh?” resumed my aunt. “That was very foolish of him. He didn’t need them, when he and his wife had five children of both sexes. What was he looking for again in a woman? Trying to satisfy those young wives must be what contributed to his sudden and untimely death.”
I didn’t want to say ‘untimely at almost 87?’ So, I kept silent, thinking of how to escape from the room. Saved by the bell!
Dad’s driver came to announce it was time to go collect Heather, Robert, Milwan and the Europe group from the airport. I leapt from my chair and scurried out of the room to go get ready.
When I got to the car park to join the convoy of six vehicles that were making the trip, I found nanny already in the front seat of my car, chatting with the driver.
What was she going to the airport for, I asked myself. Should she always be so self-assertive? Shouldn’t she have waited for me to invite her along, or, shouldn’t she have asked if she could come?
When she saw me, she quickly got out of the car to come open the car door for me, before the driver could do so.
I murmured my thanks and sighed helplessly inwards. Well, it’s her show, too, isn’t it?
She helped raise the bride. I should always remember that.