I saw one of my father’s mistresses a few days ago and it brought back memories.
But then it did something else, it made me understand why my father wanted to “kill” himself because of her.
My parents got divorced when I was still very young. I was about 10 years old then. Theirs was a nasty one; it was noisy, it was bitter, as if they were not the same couple who fell in love back at school then had three of us. It was as if someone arranged their union. Whereas my aunties and uncles told me my parents had a sweet romance. That theirs was a beautiful relationship that was envied…until my father cheated and everything collapsed!
We lived with my mother after the divorce and still, the acrimony was horrible. I recall how even after they had both gone their separate ways, whenever my dad came to pick us up for holidays or for the weekend; there would be another round of name calling between them. After a while, all he did was stay in his car and blast the horn to let us know he was around.
Now, why am babbling about my mother and father?
I saw one of his many mistresses; she has aged but she has aged well. She looked well kept and regal and there was still a hint of that sexiness she displayed back in the day when even I didn’t know what sexiness was about; her skin still glowed; well pampered kind of skin. I saw her at a party, before this lock down of course, and she still turned heads, a woman well into her 70s. No wonder she turned my father’s head up side down!
I said “upside down” because that was the way we, his kids, generally put it when we talked about that period of his life when he had his thing with her and ended up broke and poor.
But my father, on the other hand, never had a bad word to say of the woman. Any time you brought her up, he always exclaimed, “That was a woman, thaaat was a wooomman!” He would have this twinkle in his eyes as he shook his head.
Now, this mistress was no ordinary woman because she was already married to a big man in Lagos society. She was one of those women that Prime People and City People, the gossip magazines of those days, used to write about in their celebrity columns.
This woman had kids too at that time but I don’t know what she saw in my father, who was neither a chief, nor nearly as rich as her husband who was a triple chief. My father was a businessman who happened to own a popular nite club, though. That was his only claim to fame.
Though I was quite young when she began to go out with my dad, I remember that she moved in with my dad and lived with him for two years before she went back to her husband, the chief. And he took her back.
While she lived with my dad, we couldn’t spend the night at his place and I will tell you why.
You see, she came from class and had a certain standard that my dad had to maintain…at a high cost of course. She was used to a retinue of servants, and she was also used to being pampered; spas, makeup, clothes, perfumes…you understand me? If she left a room, hours later, the room would still smell of her perfume; if she shook your hands, you would still feel the softness, hours later.
My mother too was a classy mama back then, o, make no mistake but there are classy mamas and there are classssy maaamaa and my mother, with all her eclectic style, was no match for madam mistress!
I am sure mistress knew my father couldn’t possibly provide everything for her, so there had to be something else that made her stay with him.
You see despite being high maintenance; my father’s mistress was also a kinky sex maniac, just like my father, as we later found out! Otherwise, she wouldn’t have left her husband and kids in their Ikoyi home to live with my father for two years on the mainland. You too, look at it, there was more to it.
Shortly after she moved in with him, my father installed mirrors all over his bedroom. He cover the walls and the ceiling as well with mirrors. What are you doing with wall and ceiling mirrors in your bedroom? Is it a showroom?
There were all kinds of toys in that room too! Like I said, I was young, I didn’t understand much of what was going on; there were a few funny items my father would hastily throw inside the drawers on the rare days we ventured into his bedroom.
I remember asking my father why he had mirrors on the walls and ceiling and he had joked that he was able to see all angles. I didn’t know what he meant by that; it was much later that the pieces began to fall in place, especially on those days when it was my father’s turn to have us for the holidays. He would take us to his sister’s place and would visit us there.
Can you believe that? All these happened after the mistress came in; hitherto, we spent holidays with him and we often went abroad for summer but when madam mistress came on the scene, no more summer holidays abroad, instead, my dad would drive us from my mum’s place straight to aunty’s place and he would visit us at my aunty’s place and convince us we were better off there.
I guess he didn’t want us to witness the noise the neighbours had been complaining about every time he and his mistress got on with it; for all you know, he was shielding us from being scarred for life..
We heard about the neighbours complaints. So, that explained why he never let us sleep over at his house; we only went to the house during the day to clean up because madam mistress was not for cooking or doing dishes or cleaning the house, no. My father only brought us in to clean up and after that, shipped us off to his sister’s again.
They were also the life of the parties in Lagos back in the day; my father was a party man and his mistress, well, she was the life of every party! She knew the best restaurants, the choice drinks, the…this woman, long before all these makeup people came up, would spend two or more hours making up! and when she was done, my, my, she was something else! No wonder my father fell so hard!
Not only that, while she was in his life, he took her abroad all the time. They went to Monaco, Spain, Brazil, the Caribbean, all the exotic places you can think of.
We lived like that for two years after which madam mistress woke up one morning and went back to her husband in Ikoyi! Yes, she went back because I heard that the chief threatened to disinherit her! Uh huh
My father was left broken hearted and broke!
I felt no pity for him, he had his fun and I think he knew it wasnt going to last anyway. With a woman like that? Nah!
But he always said, whenever we spoke about her, “What a woman!” Very loaded expression. And when I saw her, I exclaimed, “What a woman, to have left one man, lived with another and gone back to the first man, like it was normal. Men normally get away with that kind of thing, not women but she did, no wonder she is such a woman!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)