From the moment I heard about Jimi’s impending return, I was one huge ball of nerves!
I just couldn’t sit still. On the one hand, I was excited about having my co-parent around, and that he and Rire would now spend more time together, as seeing each other once or twice a year was no longer ideal for our son, who was on the cusp of becoming a teenager. But on the other hand…on the other hand, I was petrified about the thought of watching the only man I had ever truly loved, live his life independently from me. It was one thing to hear about his relationships, but to see them play out in front of me, in Technicolor, was not my idea of fun at all.
I speak of relationships in the plural because I didn’t think Clairice was going to move back to Nigeria with him. As far as I was concerned, their engagement was already dead in the water, the minute he made the decision to leave. There was no chance in the world that she would move back to Africa with a man she’d known for a little over a year! Not a chance!
So, anytime Jimi talked about how she was already making plans to join him in Nigeria, after their December wedding, I couldn’t help but yimu the guy! Move to Nigeria indeed!
But one person who was even more excited about Jimi’s impending return? Dolly!
Ah, yes. Dolly.
After the humiliation she had faced with Jimi not recognizing her at Adun’s house, Dolapo, as I’d feared, went downhill. She withdrew into her shell and lost all enthusiasm for life. Despite Adun’s warning, I couldn’t leave Dolly alone. For reasons even I couldn’t decipher, somehow, I felt responsible for her situation. It didn’t make any sense, considering the role she had played in destroying the only meaningful relationship I’d ever had in my life. But I just did.
After an evening spent with her, when she was talking about how worthless her life was, and how if she died, nobody would even notice, I was spooked enough to call our brother, Niyi, to ask if she could come spend some time with him in London. I truly feared the girl would do something foolish, and figured a change of environment would do her a world of good.
“Fola, I’m not sure about this…” Niyi had protested. He’d just gotten his dream job in a private Surgical Practice in London, and was enjoying his single life. Having his younger sister, albeit by only 18 months, with him for as long as a a few weeks, was bound to cramp his style.
“Niyi, I’m begging! I keep worrying that one day, I’ll go to her apartment, and she’ll be lying on the floor, dead! She needs this, I beg you!” I’d pleaded, desperate.
“Did she put you up to this?” Niyi had been suspicious.
“She doesn’t even know I’m talking to you.” I answered truthfully.
“How come Adun isn’t as panicked about her as you are?” Niyi had prodded. “And why can’t she stay with Mom instead?”
“You know that Mom is nothing more than a squatter where she is!” I answered. “You have a big apartment. She’ll be more comfortable with you.”
Reluctantly, Niyi agreed, and Dolly had been ecstatic over the news. It was the happiest I’d seen her in months. She immediately shook off her funk, and started making frenzied plans for her trip. Our mother had also been happy at the news of her dear daughter coming to the U.K. Her partner in crime! Even Niyi started warming to the idea of having her over.
The only person who wasn’t pleased was Adun.
“I’m surprised at you, Fola!” she had exclaimed, when she found out. “You want Dolapo to go London, to stay with Niyi? Dolapo?! Babe, have you taken leave of your senses?”
“Don’t be over dramatic, Adun. It’s only a few weeks…” had been my own lame comeback.
Adun smiled cynically and shook her head. “Okay o!”, she’d responded. And with that, she’d washed her hands off the whole thing.
On Tuesday, April 13 2010, Dolly set off for London.
At first, it had been just what we’d wanted for her. Niyi, shocked to see his once dazzling, drop-dead-gorgeous sister looking wasted and faded, had proceeded to spoil her silly. All she had to do was name it, and it was hers. He got her registered in a high-priced gym, and on the Weight Watchers meal plan.
By the end of her first month, she was not only feeling better, she was looking better. I was so happy, hearing about her progress. I was glad I had listened to my conscience and intervened. Seeing Dolly on the road to recovery just gladdened my heart. I felt my job was done.
But alas, we should have known it was too good to be true.
I’m not sure where exactly it all went wrong. Was it when Niyi agreed to her request to extend her stay for a few more months? Or when he foolishly decided to entrust her with one of his credit cards? Even I, the chairman of Dolly’s supporters’ club, had been shocked by that move.
“She’s a grown woman, Fola. Dolapo is 33 years old! It’s not nice for her to have to keep asking for money if she wants to buy a pair of £20 jeans!” had been his explanation.
Well, she showed him that, truly, she was a grown woman, and that she had grown woman needs.
By the time Dolly was done with his credit card, my brother was in the hole by almost £10,000. I trust my sister. The babe used the opportunity to brush herself up real good; buying expensive clothes, shoes and bags…almost like she was making up for lost time. When Niyi revoked the card in anger, she’d been unrepentant. It was mission accomplished for her.
By the end of her fourth month, she was still unwilling to come home. Soft hearted Niyi had been unable to insist, and had instead decided to help her find a job, to help make herself useful. But my sister refused to work.
“Niyi, I can’t go and work in Burger King or Debenhams! It will destroy my rep! Do you know how many people I run into everyday, just walking on the street? Imagine people seeing a whole Dolly as a sales girl in a store! No oh! I can’t!” had been her adamant response.
Eventually, and after pulling a lot of strings, Niyi had found her an administrative job at the clinic where he worked. She’d lost that job in a matter of weeks, thanks to her tardiness, laziness and rudeness. Even though Niyi was high ranking, he was still several rungs down the ladder, but Dolly apparently thought he owned the clinic, with the nasty attitude she displayed to her colleagues.
After that job came a few call centre jobs, but as quickly as they came, they went. Dolapo couldn’t hold a job to save her life! And all of this was while she was also causing havoc to Niyi’s relationship with an Irish girl he was hoping to marry. She had constant altercations with poor Siobhan, who just couldn’t understand the kind of long, long rope her fiancé, our brother, Niyi, had given his problematic sister. In the end, they broke up.
Another relationship that bit the dust, thanks to Dolly!
By October 2010, after returning from a conference in Birmingham and meeting his apartment trashed, no thanks to a last-minute party Dolly had thrown with her new friends, Niyi decided he’d had enough and asked her to leave his house. Dolly had been unrepentant and left. We thought her obvious next destination would be with our Mom, in Aunty Titi’s house, but the babe had other plans.
By now, she had recovered a bit of her old self, to a large degree. Even though she hadn’t lost enough weight to make her look the way she once had, she’d lost enough to regain her self confidence. Before anyone could spell ‘Big Ben’, she was back to her old tricks, following Nigerian 419 guys and credit card scammers, all over London. I would see pictures of her on Facebook, globe trotting with the razzest, most local looking guys, guys who felt that showing off money and cars on Facebook, made them cool.
“But I told you sooooo!” Adun had retorted, when I finally complained, after months of holding it in. “I told you guys not to let Dolapo deceive you! But you wouldn’t listen! Neither you nor Niyi would listen! Now, the girl is out of control!”
And out of control she truly was!
This was until her mother decided she’d had enough.
Without giving anyone any prior notice, without even a word of warning to anyone, our mother had gone to report Dolly, her favorite daughter…scratch that…her favorite child…to the Home Office, for being in the U.K. with an expired visa. And by April 2011, a very unhappy Dolapo was back in Nigeria.
“That girl would have ended up in jail, with those jokers she was following around!” had been all Mom had volunteered.
Eeeehn! Adun and I were in shock. Even our dad had been stupefied when he’d heard. Our mother had resorted to common sense, over the prospect of being showered with cash?! She hadn’t allowed her incurable love for money blind her to the fact that Dolly’s men of choice were no-good? Maybe the last few years of living the hard life in London had taught her a thing or two.
But Dolly was enraged, and reigned curses on our mother’s head, her former ally. But after her short angry spell, she’d been quick to find the silver lining. She’d returned to Nigeria a much better version of the Dolly that left. She was slimmer (well, a size 16 kind of slim), and was back to her flashy lifestyle. Her Naija 419 boyfriends in the U.K. kept her liquid by sending her hard currency, constantly, so she was back to her old, extravagant, haughty, two-timing and very annoying self.
“Guess who has been stalking me on Facebook!” was one of the first things she told me, when she was done sulking about our mother. “Jimi!”
“Oh?” had been all I’d been bothered to volunteer. Jimi? Stalking her on Facebook? The girl was clearly delusional.
“He added me sometime last year, when I was still in London. And he just keeps liking and commenting on all my pictures!” she’d squealed.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Jimi liked and commented on nearly everyone’s picture. He was a bit late to the Facebook party, having just opened an account the previous year, so he was still very, very active on the platform.
“I think he might want me back!” she said smugly, and I had to restrain myself from shaking my head in pity. “I hope you’ll be mature enough to let things unfold that way.”
“Oh sure. Why not?” was my own sarcastic answer. If she wanted to live in denial, then so be it.
Besides, around that time, I was dealing with a far bigger issue.
In June 2010, one week, Daddy and Mama Jay travelled out of the country, for a relative’s wedding in South Africa. I’d promised to check on Seyi in their absence. That Friday evening, the same day they left, I went to the house and was overwhelmed by the smell of marijuana…aka Indian Hemp…aka igbo!
“Seyi!” I’d screamed, running to where he sat in their garden, puffing away. “What are you doing?”
“Relax, Fola!” he’d slurred, high as a kite, “There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of weed!”
I yanked the roll from his mouth, and threw it to the ground. “Are you out of your mind? How can you be back to doing this? Not after what we went through to get you clean!”
“Why does everyone make such a big deal about weed?!” Seyi bellowed, angered by my intrusion. “It’s not like I’m back to doing crack or anything like that! This is just harmless weed! I had to wait for the old folks to be out of town before being able to smoke it in my own home! All of y’all are just too uptight!”
As he spoke, I had flashbacks so vivid, they literally took me back to his NYC apartment. As he spoke, I saw flashes of the Seyi who’d attacked us because of his drug dependence, the one who had been almost like a caged animal. And I knew this was not something I could leave to chance.
That night, in company of Wole, Adun’s husband, who had only been too happy to help out again, and a few friends of his, we had bundled Seyi out of the house, to a rehab facility on the outskirts of town. We all knew that if we let this slide, events of the past would be repeated…and badly…maybe even worse!
By the time my in-laws returned from their trip a few weeks later, Seyi had thankfully kicked his burgeoning habit.
So, you see why dealing with Dolly was the last thing on my mind at that time.
But with Jimi returning home in a matter of days, I realized that a paradigm shift was headed our way…
You can catch up on Fola’s story here:
- Sister, Sister 1: Calling Me Mrs.
- Sister, Sister 2: The Odd Family
- Sister, Sister 3: Floating On Air
- Sister, Sister 4: The Many Wives of Jimi
- Sister, Sister 5: Russian Roulette
- Sister, Sister 6: So Much In Common
- Sister, Sister 7: An Unlikely Pair
- Sister, Sister 8: Longing For Her
- Sister, Sister 9: The Return
- Sister, Sister 10: The Catastrophe
- Sister, Sister 11: Not Working
- Sister, Sister 12: Sham of a Marriage
- Sister, Sister 13: Invisible Strings
- Sister, Sister 14: Rehab
- Sister, Sister 15: Fall From Grace
- Sister, Sister 16: Reset Button
- Sister, Sister 17: Available…Unavailable