After working for more than 35 years in the civil service I got my gratuity.
I didn’t get it immediately, o. It took more than one year after my retirement before government finally paid me and the money was huge. I won’t tell you the figure but you know, I had planned to use the money to complete my house because in the last 20 years, my family and I have been living in an uncompleted building which I started years ago.
I was only able to raise it to decking level before plastering it. So, we have been managing that house like that. My plan was to complete and roof it then get tenants to occupy so that my wife and I would use the rent money to take care of ourselves in old age.
Old age has already come, in fact, but we still have two children in school. My last born is in SS3, about to do waec and the second to the last just finished last year about to enter university, hopefully maybe this year.
So, my wife and I had agreed that we should use the money to complete the building; a block of four flats but my family and I have been living in the two flats below. I have four boys and I girl and two of my relatives also live with us, so we occupied the house; you get?
You know when you have calculated how much you would spend on a particular thing that’s how it was. I had calculated in my head how we would use the money.
So, I called my wife and I told her, see my plan. She agreed, o. She said it was ok. But when the money finally came; she changed her mind. She said we should use the money to buy keke Marwa; instead of spending everything at once on the building and waiting for the end of the year to collect rent, that we should use it to do business that will keep bringing money everyday and we would raise the building small, small and in about one year or two, we would complete it.
I did not agree because if something has been on your mind in a particular way and all you have been waiting for is the money to do it, the money now comes, then somebody says ‘no, don’t do it anymore, do this one instead.’ I didn’t like it at all.
In my mind I could see the completes building; roofed, painted brown and cream, with sliding windows that wer shining blue…we had even planned to change the flooring in the flats below, fix the pipes, put better toilet facilities instead of the pit we use at the back yard; we planned to do the bathroom into a modern one instead of the one we had that the tap doesn’t even run well because at that time we moved in, it was hurry, hurry, because our rent was overdue and our landlord was threatening to throw us out, so we had to rush to make the uncompleted building a little livable.
We rushed to plaster just the inner rooms, because we didn’t have money to do the outside. In fact, I wanted to change our beds, furniture, do a modern kitchen for my wife, so that we too could live a decent life and not suffer forever, because my sister, this life is too short.
Money is not easy to come by, because when we moved in years ago, I thought that by the time my last born finished school, we would have fully completed it; but when you have children going to school and all you have is your salary and the small business your wife is doing, you can’t be spending money on building at all; the fact that we had a roof over our heads was enough comfort.
I had been planning to retire three years before I finally did and when we discussed the issue of my gratuity, we agreed that the house was important for us to complete. but as soon as the money landed in my account, my wife said, no.
She said we should use it for business; and since we still had two children that would soin go to school, we should use the money we get daily from keke marwa to take care of them and be building our house small, small, that after all we had lived in that house for more than twenty years and we did not die.
It sounded sensible but I didn’t agree!
We quarreled over it for a long time but I had to capitulate when she didn’t give me peace. She was the one I wanted to live in a beautiful house, nice kitchen, good furniture; me, the only thing I wanted was a big screen TV to watch football.
So, last year, around September, we bought six keke; six o, instead of the two we agreed, madam said six is better than two, they would bring more money.
We got 6 riders that would ‘deliver’ everyday; we bought brand new so that they would last a long time and we wont have to spend money repairing every month.
By November, our riders were delivering N40/50k per day, together, o, not individually. Life was beginning to look good by December.
As I was just beginning to think that maybe indeed, I would not die wretched, Sanwo olu banned keke and okada last week!
Who did I offend?
See the wahala my wife has put me in? Imagine the level this house would have been standing now if I had followed my mind and continued with building I wanted from day one? Imagine the level of comfort I would have been living now after suffering for so many years working like jacki, all of the effort, all of that sweat, all of that is gone…
What will I do with these keke marwa now?
Who will buy from me?
See what this woman has done to me!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)