By Treena Kwenta

Hi Readers!  After my encounter with Edmund and his fiancee at Poundland in Hammersmith, I perked up, as my hitherto idle mind now had things to turn over, the uppermost being why Edmund told me that if his fiancee got pregnant, it wouldn’t be by him.

Had he been attacked and castrated by an angry husband/boyfriend whose woman he seduced?  Or, had he been ill and lost ‘it’?  I couldn’t ask him myself.

He might miss-interpret my reason for asking, which is pure curiosity on my part, and nothing more.  Tayo is the only one close enough to Edmund to be able to know precisely what happened to him, but she’s been out of my reach since I arrived.  I got slightly annoyed, wondering what was so important up in Birmingham that she had ignored Treena.

Just as I was despairing, ‘talk of the angel’ (Joe and his brethren preach that as believers, one must never give the devil any credit, by saying ‘talk of the devil’ when someone you were talking/thinking about suddenly shows up).  So, ‘talk of the angel’ when Tayo suddenly rang.

On recognizing her voice, I wanted to sulk a bit, but her contrite tone put paid to all that.

“Hey, Treena love, forgive me for neglecting you a bit,” she rushed.  “You’re not angry with your Tayo, are you?  I should have been at the airport with a red carpet when you arrived, but I’ve been here in Birmingham trying to buy an apartment.  Wish me luck.”

“Gal, you have all the luck in the world.  You’ve always done.  Congratulations on this latest venture.  How much is it costing you, and where is it in Birmingham?”

“It’s on an estate owned by an insurance company.  Quite a decent place with categories of  accommodation.  I can only afford a two bedroom flat  that costs two hundred thousand pounds.”

“Lucky you!  That’s not bad at all.  You can afford it.  I wouldn’t dream of  thinking of going near it.”

“I’m trying to organize the four children up here to buy it, but everyone of them is protesting.  They say they don’t have the money; don’t need it; have their own bedsits and are quite happy with them, etc.”

“Well, leave them alone then.  They probably don’t have the money.”

“Where would I stay when I come visit them?  I can’t cramp up with any of them in a bedsit, and I’m tired of staying in hotels there.  I threatened not to visit if they won’t buy it.  They can collectively get a mortgage and buy it together.  They can sell in future and split the money.  It’s a good investment.  They’re just being stubborn, but thank God, Edmund who already has a flat on the estate, and who’s arriving here any time now,  promises to talk sense into them.”

I grasped upon the mention of Edmund to grill Tayo about him.
“Er, did you say Edmund has a flat in Birmingham?” I asked.

“He’s had it for three  years.  Actually, he has two places on that estate; a three-bed room flat he’s let out, and a two-bedroom one he stays in when he’s in the U.K.  He’s been urging me to buy one for some time now.  I don’t want to invest in Birmingham.  In my view, it’s too er, er, local for my taste.”

Too local?  Hm!  I let that pass.  I asked how come Edmund who was bankrupt when he left Nigeria for Angola, had become a property owner in Britain.

“Didn’t he tell you he attached himself to an Angolan who was dealing in oil?”

“He did actually, but it didn’t register in my mind.  I didn’t know it could make him rich.”

“Let’s say he’s comfortable.  Will that make you change your mind and agree to marry him now, so, that the poor man can be taken out of his misery, once and for all?  That’s a thing quite close to my mum’s heart, and he totally agrees with her that you’re who he needs for the rest of his life.  How do you feel about that, Treena dear?”

“Numb.  Nothing’s stirring up within me.  Sorry.”

“Oh, no!  Don’t be sorry about that.  I’ve never thought he’s your type, but mum tells me to shut up each time I say it.  Edmund too gets cross with me for telling him the truth.   He’s simply besotted.”

“Tayo, do you think Edmund is alright in his head and mind?  He’s telling you all that, and yet he introduced his fiancee to me only two days ago at the Hammersmith shopping complex. He told me they love each other.  What do you make of that?”

“Come again, Treena dear.  Edmund introduced his fiancee to you?  That’s news to me, and maybe to my mum too, unless it’s a strategy both of them devised to get you interested in him.  Did this actually happen, or you thought it did?”

“It actually happened, Tayo, silly.  Two days ago in Hammersmith.”

“I see.  Er, was it in Lagos, or here in the U.K.?”

“Tayo, you’re not drunk, are you?  Is there Hammersmith shopping complex in Lagos?”

“Hey, cool down.  I’m just trying to focus on what you’re telling me.  Why would Edmund, who my mother brought up and who’s close to me, have a fiancee and I don’t know her or about her?  It doesn’t make sense.  Now, let’s go over what you said again.  Edmund brought a lady over to you and said she was his fiancee?”

“He didn’t bring her over to me.  I ran into him at Poundland. Actually, I was rounding an aisle  when I accidentally kicked a shopper who was picking something from a lower shelf.  It turned out to be Edmund.  I was very surprised.  He told me he had arrived on the same flight as Seb and his lady.  A lady standing nearby then came to link arms with him, and he introduced her as Marje, his Angolan fiancee.  Later that day, he rang my roamer.

In the course of our chat he told me the lady who’s a widow with two children, is in her mid-thirties and is a cousin to his late wife.    His parents-in-law there approve of him marrying her, but they all decided that there would be no children in the marriage.  What puzzled me was his saying that if Marje gets pregnant, it would not be by him.  Is he castrated or has he lost it?  That has been bothering my mind.”

“Why?  Are you interested in whether he can perform or not?  You’ve just told me that he doesn’t stir up anything in you.  If he’s lost it, will that make him more acceptable to you now”

“Don’t be ridiculous.  What do you know about his status?”

“I know nothing about it.  We’ve never had cause to discuss it.  Er, would you like me to ask him for you?  I can, you know.”

“I’m sure, you can.  You’re not taking any of this seriously, are you?”
“Er, do you know what I think?”

“I think Edmund has been pulling your leg.  He probably trailed you with a girl he’s rustled up here in London, to act in your presence as his fiancee.  Did he say he introduced the girl to Seb and Belinda??”

“Er, I can’t recall that.”
“Well, I can assure you that he didn’t arrive in London with any girl.” Tayo stressed, but I didn’t believe her.  I knew I was telling the truth as I saw it, but was she?  Had Edmund been play-acting that day?

“But he couldn’t have trailed me.  I took the underground tube from Ealing Broadway and came off twice to shop along the way.”

“What I mean, Treena dear, is that he may have seen you along the High street there, trailed you into the shopping complex and introduced a total stranger to you.  Are you sure it wasn’t one of the shop assistants there that he introduced to you as his fiancee?”

“Don’t be ridiculous Tayo, you’ve been to that shop many times.  Isn’t it mainly Asian girls they employ as assistants?  Besides, would an assistant leave her job to take part in a thing like that?  Won’t a supervisor have sacked her?”

“You have a point there.  I wonder where Edmund found his ‘fiancee’ for that occasion.”

“Also, he spoke to the lady in Portuguese.” I told Tayo.

“I see.  He spoke Portuguese to her?  Did she reply in Portuguese?”

“I wouldn’t know.  She mumbled in some language I didn’t understand.  I don’t speak Portuguese.”

“I bet she not Portuguese and didn’t speak Portuguese, just jumbo mumbo.  Describe her.  It might be someone I’ve seen with Edmund.”

“She’s dark, a bit plumb with dreamy eyes, average height, and pretty.  He told me she’s in her mid-thirties, but she looked younger to me.  I would place her at Heather’s age.  I liked her friendliness.”

“Okay, I can guess who she is.  It must be Margery, Edmund’s very first child from his marriage to Chinwe.  Margery lives off Hammersmith high street.  She’s an accountant.  Didn’t she dress well and look affluent?”

“Now that you mention it, she did.”
“ I’ve never known her to answer to Marje, but maybe that’s what they call her.  Nice girl.  She’s been engaged to an Asaba young man for several years now, and they’re waiting for him to get his Ph.d before they tie the knot.”

“Why would Edmund put up such a display for me if the lady’s really his daughter?”
“I’m sure it was his daughter.  ‘Hey, talk of the angel’.  Guess who has just come in here.”
“Don’t tell me it’s Edmund.”

“It is.  Edmund, come here.  Treena is on the phone.  No, you won’t use my credit to talk to her.   Have you been passing Margery off to her as your fiancee?”  I heard her ask him.

“Did she tell you that?  Oh my God!” he exclaimed.  “Margery lives in that area and we had popped down to the complex for my shopping.  I saw Treena, and the idea occurred to me.  Margery, who liked her on sight agreed to go along with it.  I thought Treena knew I was lying.”

“But the deception continued when you rang her to tell her a cock and bull story about Margery being a cousin to your late wife, later in the evening.  Why?”
“I was just larking around.  I thought she knew that.  Here, Tayo dear, let me speak with her.”

“I won’t.  You know what, Edmund?  I think you’re a maniac who should be locked up.  You even told Treena that you had been castrated and that if your fiancee gets pregnant, it won’t be by you.  Very disgusting.”

“Did I say that? I can’t remember.  Look, it’s Treena’s fault – that behaviour of mine.  I go nuts when I see her because I’m always so excited.  Oh dear.  I’ll ring her up.”
“I doubt if she would take your calls.”

“Why won’t she?”

“Because I didn’t cover up my phone, and she heard the explanation of your lunatic behaviour.  Serves you right!

Treena, sleep well, darling.  I’ll see you in two days’ time.”

“Thanks, Tayo.  I think your cousin needs his head examined.”

“I agree with you, my dear.  See ya!”

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