By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! Having dad back home, well and strong was just great! Praise God! Soon we began to disperse. Funke, my brother Benny’s wife and Ify, Joe’s , were the first to leave. They had to go see to the children and their businesses. Chuma, Dicta’s husband, who at last has been able to get into politics, howbeit in a very small way in his home state in Enugu, had to leave to go attend urgent meetings there.
I still had a few days left of my annual leave, so, I was able to stay on a little longer. It was a most relaxing time for me. Before Tayo jetted back to London, and then to Lagos, she had taken me aside to advise that I should cease the opportunity of my presence in Accra to go see how Seb’s business venture which Coco’s accountant son is overseeing there is going.
Trust your laid-back Treena. I was reluctant to take Tayo’s sound advice because I didn’t want to be seen as trying to poke my nose in the wrong place. Tayo got impatient with me.
“Look, Treena dear. That pride of yours will rob you of your inheritance in the end. You helped establish Seb’s business.”
“With your help,” I told her.
“Okay, with a little help from me, in that I linked you up with helpful banks, notably Dare’s bank at the time. But you did all the leg work and put together collaterals which secured the various loans. Also, you ensured that re-payment was prompt in order to prevent the take-over of the business and the house in Ikeja.”
“Again with your help, Tayo dear.”
“My help? That was minimal. Joe and Benny did more than I did, to ensure regular re-payment. Seb hasn’t forgotten that. However, it’s from that business that money was got to establish the one here in Accra which had been performing poorly until Coco’s son became the MD the other year.
With your huge involvement in those vital early years, don’t you think you have the right to see what’s happening here? Your children are living and working abroad. Poor Seb is getting on in age like the rest of us, and is no longer able to give the business his full attention.
There’s also the anxiety about his health that surfaced a few years ago. Belinda, in spite of her many ‘sins’, has so far not expressed too much interest in the running of the business. We don’t know how long she would remain like that, and as for Coco, she’s a nice person, and is committed to Seb and the business, but her son who’s the MD can er, er, …………..”
“You’re right, Tayo dear. It’s just that since they’ve been performing well here without any input from me, it would seem somehow if I now want to go inspect what they’re doing.”
“You silly goose, you’re a director of the organization, and next to Seb, remember?
Anyway, I’ve told Coco that she should take you there and explain to you how the place is run, and the challenges. My dear, you should be on top of these things. Shola is still acting as a consultant to the arm in Ikeja, and he’s doing a great job there, I must say. He’s recently increased his fee, I learnt, but Seb told me it’s worth the services and he’s satisfied.
That’s why he can afford to relax. The young man here, to me, has a serious disposition to life, and he knows his job, but when anyone is left fully in charge of a business, it could be hard to resist lining one’s pocket.”
“Didn’t Seb say he’s a pastor in his church here?”
“I heard that one too, but I still think you should let him know that you’re interested in how he’s running the place. That would put him on his guard and create an acute awareness for accountability. Look Treena, my dear idiot. You’re getting on my nerves with this your silly reluctance.
If you don’t want to go, then don’t. I’ve done what Seb told me to do. I’ve told you to go. I’’ll now report back to him that you don’t want to go. Period. Coco’s coming for me soon, so that I can go pack and leave for the airport. Ah, that’s the sound of her car. Well, a hug for luck before I leave.”
We hugged and brushed cheeks and I accompanied her outside. She dashed back in to go bid everyone in the house ‘goodbye’, and then returned to join Coco and me.
“Safe journey, gal,” I told her.
“Thanks, my darling. I’ll miss you.”
“Me too. I’m missing you already.”
Coco whispered to her and glanced at me. “Er, I don’t know.” Tayo told Coco. “Er, Treena, Coco thought you were accompanying us to her apartment, and then to the airport. After dropping me, both of you could then go to the office. I told her I don’t know what your plans about all that are.”
“I think it’s best for you to go see the place today, when most of the staff will be around and you can meet them,” explained Coco.
I didn’t see any harm in the idea, so, I went to tell my parents and siblings and returned to join them. As we were pulling away, Dicta rushed out and said she was getting a bit bored and would like some sight-seeing.
“Sister Tayo, and Sister Coco, I hope I won’t be in the way, and you don’t mind.”
“Of course not, Dicta dear,” responded Tayo at once. “You’re always good company, Dicta.”
“Ah, thank you, sister.”
“Dicta, you’re very welcome.”Coco told her. “The more the merrier. Come on in.”
“Thank you, sister. Ah, this is a lovely car, sister. I bet it moves fast. Sister, I hope I’m not a bother to you here at the back.”she told me, nudging me.
“Oh no! Now that you’re here, make yourself useful. Massage my shoulders. They’re a bit stiff. You must work for the space you’re occupying here.”
We all laughed as Coco roared off. My! Can the lady drive! Fast and expertly; drawing plenty of attention to us. I suppose if you have a sleek car like hers, you’d want to show off. Belinda would love it. It simply glides!
Coco’s apartment is very chic. Lovely furniture and décor. I wondered if it was rented and if the company was paying. She and Seb used to stay in the company’s guest house on the premises. That was a long time ago, when they were boyfriend/girlfriend and Belinda hadn’t come into his life then.
Heather was attending a French Institute in Cotonou at the time, prior to doing a degree course at the university. Seb and I were on our fortnightly visit to her when he suggested that we should go have a look at the branch of the company that he was setting up in Accra. I wasn’t impressed by the premises. I thought it was money being poured down the drain. Since it was just a branch, why not rent until the company was paying its way?
Seb assured me it was good investment. As these thoughts were going through my mind, Dicta helped Tayo to pack her things, we dropped her off at the airport and were on our way to the office. I couldn’t believe the drastic changes that had taken place on the premises. There were now three storey buildings and four guest chalets at the back, and the place was buzzing with activities. I was impressed. Coco introduced her son, Peter, to Dicta and me, and he took us round and introduced us to staff.
There were eighteen around; four were out on assignments. I praised him for all the progress that had been made. He smiled, bowed his head and asked if I would like to come into his office so we could have further discussions about the company. Dicta and I went with him. Charming young man of about late thirties or so.
Coco must have married very young. I could see Dicta sizing him up from the corner of her eye. He and I discussed the business. He sent for the accountant, who brought along the books. Coco came in, and sat discussing quietly with Dicta in a part of the office.
I can’t claim that I’m thorough in accounting, but I’m not totally ignorant either, and I asked the relevant questions; some of which surprised Peter and the accountant. Generally, I threw my weight around a bit as part owner of the business. Yeah? Peter didn’t seem to mind this. He was most amiable, and at the end of the chat, he led us all out into an adjacent room where buffet lunch had been set.
Like a duck to the water, Peter got his food and went to sit cosily with Dicta. Was I surprised? Well, somehow. I mean, they were meeting for the first time and they seemed to have so much to say to each other, and in whispers too. I looked at Coco. She was cool as she got her food and came to sit near me. We were eating in silence when she suddenly nodded in the direction of Dicta and Peter. “The young stick with each other, right?” I nodded and said they probably found she and me too old to keep company with.
I glanced at the couple and was a bit alarmed to see Peter bending his ear close to Dicta’s mouth. I tried to remember what had been said about Peter. Was he married or not? I couldn’t remember and I couldn’t ask his mother who didn’t seem bothered about him flirting with Dicta. Well, my sister is happily married with four children, and she and her husband, Chuma still care deeply about each other. She may look less that 30, but she’s a lot more than that.
I tried to play the big sister, and catch her eye so that she would know that I didn’t approve of what was going on. But she refused to make eye contact with me. Very frustrating.
My anxiety must have registered on my face because Coco nudged me gently and told me not to worry. I raised my eyebrow to indicate that I didn’t know what she was talking about.
“The two of them,” she giggled nodding at the couple. “Leave them to have fun, flirting under our eyes. They’re young and no harm is being done. My son is happily married and so is Dicta. It won’t go beyond here. I can assure you. In fact, Peter is itching to rush home soon because his wife could go into labour for the delivery of their second child any time now. He’s terribly excited about it. They already have a son, and I understand this one is a girl. Just what they want.”
“How thrilling for you too, Coco. Congratulations.”
“Thanks. Every new grand child is exciting.”
Touche! Well, I know that she wasn’t poking fun at me for not yet being a grand mother, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit deprived. If only Robert and Heather would announce soon that they’re expecting a baby! My cup of happiness would be full.
As Peter drove Dicta and I back to the house, that prayer occupied my mind largely. You should see the haste with which I thanked Peter and bid him ‘goodbye’. Why? Well, I wanted him and Dicta to have a bit of privacy. Why? A little harmless flirting is a good morale booster. The two of them may never cross each other’s path again. He would return to his wife and child, and the next day, Dicta was going back to her own family. We were all young once, and enjoyed flirting, yes?
You should see the huge smile on Dicta’s face when she came to join me in our room.
“Thanks for the outing, sister.”
“Oh no, Dicta dear. I should thank you for coming along. I’m not always comfortable alone in Coco’s company. So, your presence helped a lot. I hope it wasn’t boring for you.”
“On the contrary, sister, I enjoyed myself. Peter is so entertaining. His wife is due to give birth to their second child any time now, and he’s beside himself with worry, even though he’s excited as well.
He said the first experience wasn’t that easy for the wife. I told him how frightened Chuma is whenever our baby is due; as if he’s the one who’s going to give birth to the baby. We had a good laugh over that. Peter said he’s like that too. He’s such good company. It was nice to flirt a bit. Keeps that romantic feeling alive, even if it’s your spouse you’re thinking of. Which was the case for me this afternoon. I miss Chuma.”
Complex people we ladies are, aren’t we?