I screen Tony’s (not his real name) calls these days, not that he is a stalker, wife snatcher or swapper or anything like that but he is one of those ‘strong-headed’ people who are set in their ways, having made up their minds over an issue, such individuals still go ahead calling up friends and family for advice over matters they have already decided what their course of action would be. It is because I know that nothing I tell him will make him change his mind over his present match to perdition that I’m saving myself the ‘talk-time’ by simply avoiding his calls. Moreover Tony has a habit of calling at odd times and almost always wants to spend an eternity on the phone with you discussing only his matter, which you probably must have discussed with him a million times previously.
He called me up again on Saturday night, but for some reasons managed to slip through my ‘security’ screening, I was already in deep slumber when the call came through and must have quickly picked up the bedside telephone so as not to disturb the one sleeping beside me. Almost immediately Tony launched into his drones again, but this time with another twist, this probably got my attention and I quickly left the room to give him my full attention.
Maybe I should retrace a bit here to the genesis of his story and saga. Tony left Nigeria almost immediately after graduating from university in Nigeria, he never went back again until 2005 (almost 10 years later) when he went to marry this girl he claims he has known from birth. Before going on that trip, I remember that we had so many discussions on the gamble of simply rushing off to Nigeria for just two weeks to marry a girl he hardly knew, many diasporan Nigerians who have attempted such stunts in the past may still not have recovered from the emotional and financial trauma. Tony went to Nigeria and came back after two weeks happy that he was now a married man. We all rejoiced with him and couldn’t wait to meet his wife when finally she arrives into the UK
While in Nigeria, Tony also filed for spousal visa for his new bride at the United Kingdom High Commission in Lagos. He had hoped that his wife would be able to join him almost immediately but that has not happened yet, the ‘almighty’ visa officers at High Commission are dragging their feet asking for this and that from Tony and Maggie (not her real name), finally the High Commision refused Maggie’s visa application on the grounds of suspected convenience/arranged marriage. Tony has now appealed to the United Kingdom Immigration Appellate Authority and the hearing is scheduled for December 2006.The whole process has now stretched to over a year by which time Tony could no longer bear the Liverpool cold alone, like they say, person body no be firewood.
Tony started seeing Joy (not her real name), a 23 year-old South African girl on a temporary basis; in the beginning he claimed she was just a ‘friend’ but soon the handshake extended to the elbow and Tony changed his story. Joy then became a ‘course mate’ from his post-graduate class, a little later her status changed again to that of ‘companion’, whatever that meant. Anyway, it wasn’t really my issue but since Tony wanted to tell, well, I let him carry on.
Whether it was as a result of this trait in men to find willing and unwilling male accomplices in their friends anytime they are veering off course, or just a guilt feeling on Tony’s part I would never know but he surely was bent on letting me in on what he is up to up there in Liverpool, and expected me to accept his rationalisations and justifications.
Joy’s status changed eventually in rapid successions from ‘flat mate’ to live-in-lover thus warranting the late night call from Tony on this Saturday. He said he was now wondering if maybe he had made the right decision by going to Nigeria to marry Maggie in the first place, increasingly he says, he is beginning to notice a whole lot of things – the ‘civilisation’ gap between Maggie and himself, the lack of shared interest, her ‘funny’ way of speaking English on the phone, her family’s desperation and burden on his finances, Maggie’s inadequacies in the beauty department, her bedroom naivety. Tony reeled them off on the phone and I listened, but I didn’t really mind him because I knew what had happened. It wasn’t just the embassy that had caused his apparent change in direction; Tony had tasted the mythical forbidden fruit of South African girls, famed for their loose and raunchy lifestyles. Joy the 23 year old South African girl had simply ignited Tony’s fire again, a man tottering on the edges of 40.
Perhaps Joy had done to Tony what no woman had ever done to him; she may have shown him a side of South African women which confirms the myth that many Nigerians living in that country have since screamed about. Tony said Joy was vivacious and fun unlike the dour Maggie. He praised her natural endowments which he likened to Beyonce’s.
And what do you plan to do next I asked him?
Tony ran off a few possibilities, he has begun the process of changing his home telephone number to avoid any potential clash between wife and sweetheart when he is not at home. He plans to let Maggie’s visa process run through, he believes that if he wins the appeal and helps Maggie to get the spousal visa, that would be a sort of compensation for all her troubles and she would let him be, at least she won’t lose out completely he reasoned.
However, Tony fears that there might be a Catch-22 in all these, which is what Maggie may do to him, assuming she doesn’t wish to accept any compensatory or token spousal visa form him. He says that Maggie is an Mbaise girl (Imo state) and wanted to know if I knew anything about the supposed viciousness of Mbaise girls. I couldn’t help him much here, I didn’t want him coming back to me tomorrow claiming that I had said this or that. All I told him was that he should let Maggie know the scores before ever she boards the flight out of Nigeria whenever the spousal visa approval comes through. Mbaise girl or not, I told him that the lesser evil would be in letting her know now, rather than allowing her to come into the UK and telling her on arrival. There is no telling the reactions of a woman scorned.
As to Joy, well she is gone off to South Africa at Tony’s expense to announce to her family of her Nigerian catch. She would be coming back soon to start shopping for baby clothes, yes a baby is already on the way.
Call this a gathering of the storm if you wish but Tony sees it differently, ‘I’m happy’, was his last word on the phone that Saturday night. Surely this Act has not been played to the end yet, you can bet on it, how could it when Nyanga dey sleep trouble come wake am?