When you have to evict relatives who overstay visits
Last weekend I was battling with a big dilemma: What do you do when the visiting village relative is a known and prolific thief? Do you act and masquerade as the gracious host or do what it takes to preserve your sanity?
This visitor is the sort of person who uses every opportunity to steal. If she helps you to wash the dishes, please expect that some cutlery will end up in her apron pocket!
If she offers to iron your clothes, you will find some missing. When she dusts the kitchen counter tops, sugar, salt, matches and flour will disappear. It is almost as if she is magnetic to all materials.
And so imagine my consternation when my distant cousin thrice removed, turned up strategically on Thursday night, allegedly to see our new baby.
She brought nothing for the baby, however, and with the amount of time she spent sprawled on the sofa, one could be forgiven for thinking that she had come to visit the Nigerian movies channel on our television! I knew she had come to ‘shop’. Oh yes, I know such types.
When you’re a married woman, people assume that you automatically become hospitable and welcoming. In my case, nothing could be further from the truth.
Now that I am married I have even less time to waste pretending to make nice with random people.
Between meals, children and my man, there is so much to do and so little time. I also do not entertain this business of young female relatives popping up from the village to bum around, giggling with the watchman or neighbourhood boys.
You know these distant cousins, whom I never saw at our traditional wedding, but who suddenly want to visit my home wearing tight skirts and skimpy shorts.
The ones who say they have come to talk to your husband about assistance with school fees, but they behave as if they need assistance getting their clothes off! Ladies, those are the ones who eventually become your children’s stepmother if you’re not careful.
However, my village cousin is particularly sly and tenacious. As soon as she arrived, she went to the bathroom and soaked all her clothes. She now had bought herself one night with the excuse that she needed to wash the clothes and put them out to dry the next morning. Village girls! Village girls! Village girls!
I had to admire her cleverness, so I let her be. However, I also began my counter-security measures, locking every drawer, suitcase and bedroom in the house before I left for work on Friday. When I got home, she was still parked in front of the television, giggling at Naija movies.
The clothes had been put out to dry just before I arrived. It was 5pm and they were still dripping wet! The things villagers do to their urban relatives! Anyway, God is seeing them. She bought herself one more night, but I was not going to make anything easy for her.
I instructed the older children to show auntie their colouring books, and so they attached themselves to her for the rest of the evening.
I realised I had to toughen up and throw the good manners out of the window. Otherwise I was going to spend the entire weekend watching her to make sure she didn’t run off with anything. And to make matters worse, it was going to be a long Labour Day weekend.
By the time my guest got out of bed at 10am the next day, I had ironed her clothes, folded them and placed them in her bag. I gave her a hearty breakfast, put her bag in the car and informed her that I could give her a lift to the bus since I was on my way to the market!