I’m about to leave home for work in the morning. Wife stands at the bedroom door with hands akimbo.
I ga enye m ego ofe? (Won’t you give me money for soup?)
I rummage through my pocket and office bag, searching for cash. I hand her a few Naira notes.
She stares at it, shaking her head before adding:
“And daddy, my hair needs to be retouched in the saloon today. I need money o. I’ll also need to pay for the goods I ordered the last time. This money you gave me is not enough at all.”
Gosh! And as the provider, I dare not say no to any of these requests, or else gbege go start.
So while I’m negotiating, lamenting, explaining my financial situation to my wife as usual, my kids are not even understanding that Daddy is out of cash. Two kids are pulling at my clothes on the right, and the youngest kid pulling at my clothes on the left. Now the kids are making pitiful faces, tugging at my trousers. The first born goes first.
“Daddy, our Aunty in school said we should pay our lesson fees and get new sets of drawing materials, a dozen exercise books, a carton of crayons, a dozen toilet rolls and soap, textbooks, a dozen…”
“Ehn? They should have kukuma told you to buy the whole school na!”
The second born follows suit.
“Daddy, my school sandals are old and my sports wear is torn. I don’t even like my school bag again. I want that type of Amaka’s Puma bag and computer watch.”
“Can’t you manage the ones you have till the term ends before I get you new ones?”
“Ohooo… No, daddy!”
“My frennn!!! You are not serious!”
Of course, the last born cannot be left out.
“Daddy… Please… *sobs* I want to follow you to work!”
While I’m still trying to process the numerous requests from the members of my household, there’s a knock on the front door. It’s Ibrahim the gate-man. He hands me the ‘NEPA’ bill which just arrived. I glance at my bill. Six figures. Ha! Where’s the money kwanu?
“Hey guys, I’m off. Catch you later…”
They say their goodbyes as I kiss their cheeks. My last child is still wailing and tugging at her hair in anger, but I have too many thoughts running through my head to care about a 4 year old who wants to follow her daddy to work.
As I walk towards the driveway where my car is parked, a voice stops me in my tracks.
“Good morning, Mr Bismark o!”
Chief Ugonna greets me from his balcony, on the top floor.
“Good morning, sir,” I reply with a smile, still walking towards my car.
“Ermm… Wait o abeg. I was planning to talk to you.” Chief Ugonna hurries downstairs to intercept me.
Not this landlord again, I say to myself. I sigh.
“Did you get my text message the other day?” Chief Ugonna queried, as soon as he came downstairs.
“Yes sir, I’ll see you when I get back from work. Please.” His text message was a reminder about his rent. After much begging and pleading, he warns me sternly and reluctantly agrees to be patient with me till the end of the month.
Seated in the car thinking of the many overwhelming challenges and responsibilities, I wish things were a lot easier. But it never gets easy as a man. It doesn’t. Bills! Bills! Bills! I take a glance at the metre. The fuel gauge indicates the fuel tank needs to be refilled. My head almost explodes. I just have little cash on me; I left almost every dime with my wife. I get out of the car and slam the door shut, angrily. I have no option but to ride public transportation.
As I imagine these scenarios, I shudder. So that’s how somebody will get married one day and it might happen like this? Too many impending responsibilities! The many sacrifices a man makes! Thumbs up to all men out there.