When I lost my job, I returned home to my wife with hope that we could both plan together how we would manage the money I had in my account; four hundred and seventy thousand naira. That was all. When my boss came and announced that he was trimming down staff because he could not pay salaries anymore, all my mind went to that money. What could we do with it?
“So, what are you going to do now?” my wife asked. She had never worked all her life and when I suggested that she should look for a shop a year before, we almost quarreled over that. All that she loved to do was to sit and watch home videos. I had often told her that income ought to come from more than one source but she would react as if I was inflicting her with some kind of pain.
“This is the time we must think,” I said coldly. “Please think of what you can do. We must both put heads together to get out of this situation. Please tell me what you can do so we can plan. There is hunger in the land.”
She did not say anything. She just sat there in front of the TV watching a Zeeworld movie.
It was obvious that I was on my own. My wife never cared how the family income came in. As far as she was concerned, the kitchen must be stocked with food. There should be enough money for shopping. There must be fuel in the car at all times so she could act as the wife of a rich man and drive the kids to school in it. Everything must move perfectly but how I got the money to run the home was none of her business.
When I sensed that she was not interested in helping me grow rather she would nag and whine over everything, I went into my room to think of the way forward. I slept afterwards and awoke later in the evening. By that time, my three boys were already back from school.
“We are going to sell the car,” I announced suddenly when I joined her in the sitting room. “It is liability. The children will change school immediately. Thank God the term has just begun. They will go to a public school.”
She was now breathing loudly and her face red with rage. I knew she was definitely going to put up a fight because no one loved comfort and luxury like she did.
“You want to take my kids to a public school?” she threw in ire. “That will not work Gyang. It will not work. Over my dead body for my kids to go to a public school! Over my dead body!”
The way she said those words made me sick. She had never contributed to the growth of the family financially yet she would want to decide how things would go.
“You are saying over your dead body, are you the one that pays their school fees?”
We almost had a fight over the issue that day. She said she would not let me sell the car because neighbours would laugh at her. She was not going to take the children to a public school because the neighbours would mock her. Nothing I said made sense to her. That evening, she hid the car keys. I called my father and he advised that I keep num and pray about the issue. That was exactly what I did. I began to think about what kind of business I could do with the four hundred thousand naira in my account. The more I thought about it, the more I got confused.
The next day was a Saturday, I decided to take a walk around town and I found a used Danfo with the ‘for sale’ sign on it. I began to think. It was still in a very perfect condition. I decided that if I gave it to a good and honest driver, he could bring back good returns to me.
Upon inquiry, I was told that it was six hundred thousand naira.
“Somebody price am for five eighty but we no gree sell am.” I was told.
The bus was still in a very good condition. It was actually used by a school before it was painted into a commercial bus colour. I wished at that particular moment that I had the complete money.
“Can you take four hundred and fifty thousand naira and give me a week for the balance?” I asked the seller.
“Okay, I will ask the madam wey want to sell am. If she gree, I go call you.”
I gave him my phone number. The next day, I was summoned after service by the bus owner. The woman agreed to sell. She was willing to give me two weeks to bring the balance of one hundred and fifty thousand naira.
“You can go with the bus so long you are sure that the cash will come in two weeks,” the Danfo owner told me.
Her trusting me and handing me all the papers humbled me greatly.
I brought the bus home that evening and when my wife saw it, she began again in her usual manner to rant.
“So, a graduate like you now wants to become a Danfo driver? Agbaya! What a shame!”
I did not say anything to her rather I parked the bus and left. The next day, against my wish, she took the kids in the car to school. On her way back, it developed a mechanical fault. She left the car at Maryland and sent me an SMS.
II was with a friend who brought me a driver for the Danfo when I got the SMS. Quickly, we rushed to Maryland in the new bus and with it we towed the car to a nearby mechanic workshop. It was sold at a give-away price a week later. From there, I paid the one hundred and fifty thousand naira debt on my neck.
Now, without a car to pose and brag about with, my wife practically stayed indoors all the time. I advised her to go and learn how to sew because I had a tailor friend who was willing to teach her for free but she declined. When I eventually took the kids to the public school, she flared up.
“I hope you are the one that will be taking them and bringing them back from school because I will never step my foot into that school.”
I could not believe that my wife would utter such words because she was from a very poor home. She would not have been able to complete her secondary school if not that I had come to seek her hand in marriage. It was I who also saw her through college of education. Since then she had refused to work.
She became extremely proud when I bought the Audi for her to be conveying the kids to school. For a girl who grew up in a very poor home, her manners really surprised me. But I had vowed never to let neighbours hear our voices and for that reason, if she began to raise her voice, I would just remain calm or leave the house for her.
I began to cook, bathe the children and take them to school myself every day. My wife was too ashamed to do so. I overheard her telling a neighbour one day that it was because her car was at the mechanic that was why I changed the children’s school. I wondered why she had to tell such a white lie just to be thought rich. While all this was going on, I was still searching for a job and praying to God to change her.
But something very tragic happened a month after my kids resumed in school; the Danfo had an accident. A mechanic bought it from me for eighty thousand naira after many weeks. It dawned on me that I needed to fast and pray harder for God to intervene in my case.
That Friday I decided to visit a former classmate of mine, Pastor Ben in Akute. He had often invited me for prayers but I always give unnecessary excuses.
It was on my way back that I joined the wrong bus. About five of us who were passengers in the bus were taken by armed bandits into a forest. The money with me was taken away from me.
I spent four days there with the other passengers. Our abductors took our phones from us and left strict instructions that if we tried to escape, we would be killed by armed guards surrounding the forest. They left us with two bags of sachet water and a carton of gala sausage. I worried for my family. I worried about my kids. I remembered that when I was leaving the house that Friday morning to the mechanic workshop, I had a little misunderstanding with my wife who wanted me to give her three thousand naira for her hair.
Angrily, I reminded her that there was no food in the house and all she cared about was to spend three thousand naira on her hair.
“Do you have any conscience at all?” I queried.
“Gyang, don’t provoke me this morning,” she retorted. “When was the last time you gave me money to make my hair? Is it because I have been keeping quiet?”
That was when I muttered under my breath in anger; “One day you will look for me but won’t see me.”
That was the reason my wife did not raise any alarm when I did not return. She thought that I had carried out my threat. When on the first day I did not come back and the kids were very hungry, she gave them garri. That was the only thing in the house. The next day, she began to think of what to sell. The kids were crying. It was a Saturday. It had become obvious that I had indeed carried out my threat.
She thought of what to do. The only thing we had was a bag of garri. She was not going to watch her kids die of hunger. Survival instinct hit her instantly. Suddenly she measured the garri into white cellophane, tied them like sugar and began to sell to the neighbours.
It sold like hot cake. She was the first in my street to sell garri in such small measure. From the proceeds, she made soup for the children.
The fourth day when our gala and water had finished, we decided to try our luck and escape from the forest. It was then that we discovered that our captors had actually lied to us. There were no guards at all in the bush.
I returned miserably home to bemoan my fate but was glad to meet my wife selling garri in front of the compound and making profit from it. She’d sold the first bag and had gone to buy another. I was shocked. My four days away had extinguished her pride. That evening when I told her what had happened to me, she begged me to forgive her and promised never to nag again.
“I have realized that the fear of what people would say about us is the reason why most people are dying of hunger,” she said. “Many of us die in shame.”
It’s been seven months since my wife began to sell garri in front of the compound. She has added other food condiments to it. She is always counting money now and goes to buy from Ketu almost every day. She now has two commercial motorcycles that bring returns to her daily. For the past few months food had never been a problem in my house. Just last month after several job interviews, a job finally located me.
Now all is well with every member of my family and things are beginning to take shape.

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