It has been ten months since I lost my job; I got to the bank one morning and was given a termination letter. It was very unexpected as I had been one of the best in my branch but the bank was downsizing and I was a victim.
I got back home almost in tears, I had been at this job for seven years and I had moved up the ladder to what I had assumed was the height of my career. I broke the news to Esther, my wife of five years. She was shocked but promised me everything would be okay. We had been saving for a while and she was working as a consultant.
Our savings vanished into thin air in a matter of time. Foodstuffs prices had increased, transportation had gone up as well as the cost of fuel. My two children, Ade and Tomi had their school fees increased also. My wife who had the only source of income was not being paid like before. She even feared that she would soon lose her job.
The tension at home was getting high, I was a thirty-four year old man and was jobless. I submitted my CVs to companies and friends but no one was hiring. There were times we would eat a soup for two weeks, Esther would warm it and serve us small portions. Stew was no longer a necessity because of the high cost of tomatoes. I felt worthless, the man I had been was no more. Frustration soon set in.
It started with me shouting at the kids. Ade and Tomi were six and four respectively and as children were fond of playing. I would yell at them to keep shut whenever I was around. All I wanted was for things to be whole again, I wanted to be the man of the house and not watch my wife pay the bills. Soon, the kids began to avoid me, they would rather stay in their rooms than be with me in the parlour. Their usual smiles for me were no more.
Esther noticed this and came to me, “Honey, I know things are hard but with God we will overcome. This is just a phase, a test of our faith. Don’t be carried away by the burden, in time it will be over. The kids need their father back, not the man who shouts at them all the time. Please love.”
I was angry when she told me this, I guess a part of me realized she was right and was ashamed but in my depression I yelled at her. “So you think because you’re now paying the bills you can tell me what to do ehn? So you’re among those women who when their husband loses his job you will now think you’re the head? You now think you are bigger than me that you can be telling me what to do?”
She tried to defend herself by saying I was wrong, she was just concerned but in my deluded state I did not want to hear any of this. For the first time in my life, I pushed a woman. I pushed my wife to the side and she fell on the ground. I stormed off angrily to a friend’s place.
Akin is a close friend of mine, our friendship had begun back in our days in the University of Ibadan. I told him all that had happened.
He told me he had gone through the same thing as me a year ago and that his wife had been the one earning money but that no one had been aware. He told me, “You’re not in a right state of mind Tola. From what you have told me, Esther has done nothing wrong. Marriage’s a partnership, there are two partners, the silent one and the active one. Most times, the man is the active one and his wife the silent one. However, at certain times, the active partner has to take a seat in the board room and allow the silent partner take the reins of things. It doesn’t mean your position is under threat but she’s only helping out for the times you helped. Times are hard my brother, there are men who are out of jobs and can’t ask their wives for money. You should count yourself blessed for having one who cares. What you should do now is apologize.”
As I drove back home, I thought about all Akin had told me, I know my wife’s a good woman, she had brought up our family in the way of God. She’s slow to anger and kind. I have never seen her complain even when I asked her for money to fuel my car. Not once had she been spiteful.
When I got home and saw her, I was almost in tears; she had a wound on her knee from the fall. I knelt down and pleaded, “Forgive me my love,” I explained to her all I had been going through. I never meant to hurt her. She hugged me in tears and promised that things would be fine.
The children were still awake so we called them and told them that daddy had been going through an illness and was better. Seeing the happiness on their faces, I knew I wanted them to be this way.
Esther and I sat down the following evening and discussed about what to do concerning the economy. We arrived at a conclusion and agreed that we would set up a dry cleaning business with her salaries.
While she goes to work by day, I head over the business. I have to say when we started this I never expected it to be this big. I still miss my old job but now I have time for my understanding wife and kids.
It is not where I want to be but with God I know there are blessings in store for us.