August 20, 2018

Why can’t a woman be man of the house? – Peju Akande

Why can’t a woman be man of the house? – Peju Akande

What’s wrong with a hands-on woman? A woman who can take care of things when a man is nowhere in sight.

I won’t call myself hands on but I have my own tool box. I know how to get a gen started particularly when the plug won’t kick in  same with a car and by the way; I know the first thing or two or three that may have gone wrong with my car even before the mechanic begins to poke at it.

I know a few things about plumbing; unblocking a clogged sink, screwing a shower head, fixing the bulb. I also know a few things about jammed locks, a few things about carpentry, a few things about electronics; just enough to get out of a fix before the experts come along.

I drive with my heels on and speed doesn’t scare me except I’m not the one driving. I can drive just about any vehicle, manual or automatic- trailer, pickup, none daunts me (I have tried them all). If my TV stops functioning, for instance, I’m not waiting around for some male presence to fix it for me, if I tinker with it a few times and it doesn’t work, I know who to call. I know who to call if my gen defeats every attempt I make to start it. I know who to call for my tyres. I’ve changed my tyres before, by the way and was almost done when a gentleman offered to do it for me, (those were my driver-less days) I have numbers in my phone for every field of life that concerns me.

However, I haven’t tried a power a train though or fly a plane for that matter and bungee jumping, (these are on my bucket list sha)…someday, I’ll probably get to those.

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In terms of finance, I consider myself well informed and equally able to juggle my figures so that I never have to owe school fees or rent and if I’m to owe, (I’m only human) I know how to beg, I have no shame. In fact, I’ll shed a tear or two for maximum effect…until Ihave my way.

Meanwhile I also like girly things, makeup, nice hairdo, well-manicured nails and all that; just a bit of these to separate me from being tagged a tomboy (or is it cat woman?). I love to be pampered, have my bills paid for me,(* tongue out* ) have someone really care about me and take charge…once in a while (who no like better thing?) Thankfully, I’ve got that, still, I won’t classify myself as your regular damsel in distress.

Why all this grammar? Well, what I have been trying to say since is this; I hate being helpless.

That expression in its entire ramification slammed me in the face in the last few days. I went to commiserate with two different sets of friends over the loss of their loved ones. The families of course were devastated, so was everyone who came to mourn with the bereaved, but what left me helpless was the fact that from the two homes I visited, the women, spouses of the dead, had totally depended on their husbands for everything. One was clueless as to what her husband’s accounts details were; his pin number to his ATM cards and all; how much their children’s school fees is, NEPA card etc.

The other didn’t know where the husband kept simple things like the spare key to his cars, the man who fixed their generator, the driver’s details as in his home (in case he absconds with the car and we have heard such cases,) little things that could help her keep a roof over her head and her kids), house and land documents that could secure a future for their kids and all necessary stuff; they both didn’t know jack!

What a life of luxury!

I was the one who panicked. I can’t live like that. I can’t not know details like these, o di kwa risky! I would ask, I would prod, I would snoop, I would threaten, I would cry and beg to be told some details…just in case. And hey, I would also reveal mine…just in case. There’s got to be a friend, a spouse, a cousin who can be trusted to look out for the interest of my loved one …just in case. (I’ll admit, sometimes, people let us down so badly even the dead turn in their graves but there are exceptions, find it)
I was still musing on this when, two days ago, I heard one of the bereaved had been invaded by the in-laws.

See whadamean?

They came and took virtually all ‘their brother’s things’, I’m told they claimed it as theirs; their inheritance. I won’t name the ethnic group these people belong to because I think that last-last it’s a Nigerian thing; no one ethnic group is spared this malaise.

They cleaned the whole house and the cars, too; clothes, TV sets, deep freezers, shoes, the only items they didn’t take were the ones they didn’t see. Somehow they got the spare keys to the deceased cars and while the widow was still performing her role as the chief mourner, weeping and being consoled, the-in laws did the needful; under the pretext of using the cars to run errands, drove them away; all three.

Lo ba tan!

Now, I’m aware this isn’t always true of every widow in Nigeria; I’ve seen widows who’s children are looked after by the in-laws who ensure there’s a roof over their brother’s children’s heads, food on their table and that they get educated.

Anyway, the second widow, however, has good friends. When asked about her husband’s details she said , ‘I trusted him with everything, he managed everything in the house except the kids,’ she replied between sobs.

Friends told her to wipe her tears quickly and set things in motion.

I heard one friend say, ‘I’m a lawyer, are you a signatory to your husband’s account?’

‘No.’

“Are you his next of kin?” the lawyer asked again and when she said yes, she took charge.

‘We have to go to the probate registry so you can access funds and start transferring funds into you own account before the bank freezes your husband’s account.’

‘How?’

‘Your husband’s account could be frozen from 6months to years if you don’t move quickly. Give me your husband’s atm cards, pin number and your account number.’

And quickly, another trusted friend was got to do the transfers and report to the rest of the friends, a neat arrangement that ensured accountability to all.

‘My in-laws are not like that’, the widow protested.

‘Good for you, but better safe than sorry.’

So dearly beloved sisters and brothers too, by the way; if you are in a marriage or common law relationship rest assured, things happen and sometimes really bad things happen. If your significant other truly cares for you and the kids you have between you, get him to sign documents ensuring your kids have a secured financial future; this may not even be a will; get your spouses to tell you their PIN numbers, I hope you can be trusted not to be dubious, tell them yours, too. I hope they can be trusted not to leave you stranded.

Get to know how your home functions; know the plumber and the driver, know the generator man and your mechanic, know where your NEPA cards are and your spouse’s pin number; details that can help you should anything happen to your significant other.
If you are hands-on, very few things in life will frazzle you; yes shit happens but it doesn’t have to be splattered all over your face.
Post script to the spouses of the departed-May we live a full life!

Photo Credit 

Read more from Peju

Don’t feel guilty for your child – Peju Akande

Sister, why exactly, did you kill your husband? – Peju Akande

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