By Bunmi Sofola
I WAS with Abibat when she first met Tony. We’d both gone to the electrical shop he ran to get a couple of stabilizers for some of her electrical appliances. She’d already lost a cherished DVD player and the compressor of her fridge—no thanks to the epileptic power supply in the country.
Tall, very light skinned and handsome to boot, I was quite impressed by his clothes—and his spoken English. Very unlike your usual run-of-the mill shop assistant. He was also a good salesman. He was quite helpful as to which make would suit what appliance, and by the time we were ready to pay, he’d told us he owned the impressive shop, that he was an electrical engineer who was prematuredly retired. He set up the shop with his redundancy pay and had continued to build it up.
When Abibat discovered she was a few hundreds short of the total cost of the stabilizers, Tony offered to come with her to the house for the balance that would also afford him the opportunity to help set up the stabilizers.
We were a bit skeptical about taking home a total stranger, but if you couldn’t trust the owner of such a massive shop, who could you trust? Leaving his hands in charge, he came with us. True to his words, he set up the gadgets in minutes, took the balance of his money and left. I didn’t hear much about him until months later when Abibat visited, complaining her daughter couldn’t stand Tony.
“She thinks he’s too young for me and looks like an opportunist,” she wailed. I couldn’t recollect who the heck Tony was. She reminded me sheepishly. My jaw nearly hit the floor. What in the world are you doing with him?’’ I wanted to know. It was then she confessed that Tony came to the house a few weeks after our purchase to find out how the stabilizers were performing and that one thing led to the other and before she knew it, they were having a full blown affair! Did he have a wife? “He’s separated from his wife but lives with the two children of the marriage”, she said. Abibat had, in fact, visited and found his two sons really amiable.
“Isn’t he a bit too young for you?” I asked. “You must be, at least, 10 years older than he is?” ‘Only eight actually’, said Abibat; “but he’s such a matured bloke. You saw him yourself, saw what a dish he was.” Not one for knocking toy boys (or joy boys) I gave her my go-ahead, with a stem warning to look out for the likelihood of his being an opportunist. After all, Abibat is a medical doctor with a thriving practice and a widow. “He’s never asked me for anything,” she assured.
I advised her to ignore her daughter as she regaled me with tales of Tony’s sexual prowess. She looked happy and was actually glowing. If Tony brought all these positive emotions out of her, then, he’s worth it! After about a year they met, Tony travelled to the States, purportedly to stock up his shop only to call later that he might stay for a while and work so as to increase his capital. In the meantime, his two sons were still at his flat and Abibat had a key. She kept an eye on the boys, cooked for them whenever she could and took care of their welfare whilst Tony sent money, from time to time.
A few months after Tony left, he phoned Abibat that he’d found some contract black American ‘wife’—once they’re ‘married’ his green card would be assured. “Well, technically he is married,” I reminded her. “Is he planning on a bigamous marriage?” Falteringly, Abibat said Tony had lied to his contract ‘wife’ that he was a divorcee and she needed proof. She had already approached her sister who was a divorcee and she has agreed to let her use her divorcee certificate, pasting the replacement names where appropriate before making a copy.” ‘Wasn’t’ that fraudulent!” I asked. “You’ve come with your goody-goody views. This woman of his knows the score and I’m sure she’s doing it for a fee. Once the marriage comes through, they’ll go their different ways.”
Tony’s little scheme worked and his arrangement with Abibat continued, with his constantly sending money and little gifts to Abibat and his children. Then; Abibat called excitedly that Tony who was now a proud owner of a green card, was expected on a two-week visit. She’d already arranged to meet him at the airport and couldn’t wait to see if the spark was still there after almost three years ‘separation.’
In the meantime, she’d cleaned up his flat and spruced up his excited kids. She wanted to have a welcome home party for him at her flat and we quickly went over the best way to go about this. The next day after Tony was supposed to have arrived, Abibat came to my office very early and one look at her, I had to request another colleague to continue with the meeting I was conducting. As soon as we got inside my office, she exploded: “The bastard!” No prize for guessing who this bastard was! “I couldn’t go with my driver to pick up Tony at the airport, so I begged Banke (her daughter) to go with the driver, as he is only a few months old in my employ, she grudgingly agreed to go with him.
“Hours later, she was storming up the path as I looked out the kitchen door. ‘Mum! Did you know Tony was visiting with his American wife?’she cried. My heart nearly jumped into my throat. He arrived the airport with this mean looking fat woman whom he introduced to me as his wife. Man, she was ugly and he looked a bit sheepish when I glared at him. What to do? The car was already there, so we took both of them to his flat!’
She was about to continue gloating when she saw how deflated I looked. I actually saw her soften and she said, I’d better pull myself together, that men like Tony used people all of the time. I was livid. What sort of a fool did he take me for? He still avoids me up till now, but I know scores will be even some day. I still have a large chunk of the money he sent from time to time. Let’s see if he gets it back!