A few weeks ago, a girlfriend came by to see me over four o’clock tea on a Sunday. I am of the old school that still does high tea. Because of my three loves,and with funds allowing, I have a whole treat spread out for high tea. Back to girlfriend. She had come to let me know about some gossip she was involved in, with people/ friends, who did not imagine that she and I were close and even related by marriage.
Anyway, the jist of it all, was that she had been privy to an intense gossip session that dwelt on yours truly –me. Apparently, I had over a long period, ruffled feathers of a few friends and now known foes, with my attitude. Yes my girlfriend was party to this gossip, but she felt that as a true friend, the way the accusations were leveled was biased and undeserved. The topic:- my constant brokenness and money borrowing.
You would be fooled to think, like me, that this was the only topic of this character assassination session. Well, actually it wasn’t. The topic diverted and digressed in importance. According to “girlfie”, there was a shared sentiment among seated members, that I was proud for nothing, haughty without reason, mean with my company-as if I had anything special to offer and that I considered myself too good for the men who unsuccessfully tried to woo me! Plus one or two things I wouldn’t write here.
Through all this revelation of my “beat me down” , I did not say a word. Just the occasional, uhuh, really and oh?…comment. Girlfie ended with “I just felt it was unfair and you ought to know what type of friends you have, me included.” At her completion of the story, all I could think of was that if we had been acting a Swahili movie, as two middle aged khanga clad women, at that point my script would have read:- Sua swathing her khanga afresh over her shoulder and saying” haya basi, habari ndio hiyo eh?” (o.k then, so that’s the news?)
I thought about the characters involved in this session: People I could call friends, but rarely relied on for help of a very personal nature. Short term loans of minor amounts and payable within less than twenty days is not classed in this category. Apart from girlfie, only one other person was known to me longer than 6 years. The rest, were people I occasionally met over a drink, knew bits about their families, and work, but that was all. None other than these two had met my children, knew their names, had visited my house or me theirs, and related with me closely, besides at casual venues.
I am a bad friend. I keep friends for what use they are to me. I don’t clutter my personal life with people not useful to me. So I made an instant decision, to cut out all these people from my life, my facebook, and e-mail and delete their numbers– just like that. These were “new friends” who might not have had an opportunity to know me better or understand me. I believe that some decisions are only wise if made fast and wholesomely. I did not tell girlfie that. She had been kind enough to let me in on what transpired behind my back.
Was I wrong or right in my actions though? First, it was true I do borrow money frequently. It is also true that I make effort to repay everybody I borrow from. I actually have only two debts unpaid in my life currently, plus my usual long term bank loan. I borrow in the safety of knowing that I am entering into a private and confidential agreement based on gentleman’s terms. That is why I can borrow again and again and again and still have the same people lend me money. It’s the way Life goes.
Why do I borrow constantly? I am like so many people, employed and facing difficulties fitting basic salary and basic need costs to a perfect fit. I will not use my single parenthood as an excuse here. I am just so placed as to fall short of money before the end of a month, and be in need for a loan, to help me balance my equations in the face of unexpected and unbudgeted for extra costs.Many times, some climb the ladder to become future budgeted needs.
Now at this point, my single parenthood comes in. I have no shame about not being able to balance my earnings and my life.As a single mother, I do the best I can, with my limited education and abilities, plus professional expertise. If I had the required assistance over the years from my in-laws and baby daddy,maybe I would be better placed. Since I did not, I selected a long time ago, to go it the hard but straight way– work and earn a living and live within my means. But, I have sacrificed my share and that of my three loves, to stretch and fit in my parents, sisters, brother and other kin.All this without compromising too much upon the basics and comforts of my three loves especially. Besides this, I have done my bit of Communal social welfare, helping strangers and relatives where I could.
My fate is better than those of so many, lesser placed single mothers, with less or no education, opportunities and/or tact. I also affirm that I have always had the option, to succumb to a relationship that provides worldly goods to me at the expense of my children’s comfort, happiness and self image. In almost all instances, this would be possible with a married man, (or else I would say marriage). I opted to take the road less traveled and work my way through it with my Lord. My faith, hope and undying trust that doing well begets me more good, has kept me going.
My three loves and I, have lacked for so much and yet we have more memories of all the bountiful treats that life has given us in our togetherness. In good times and bad, we prayed and stayed together, and when the bad times were over, we celebrated and still do, together. Miss D, Sonny and I, share the burden of sacrificing privileges, whenever we have debts to pay. We prioritize this as a family, knowing we are lucky enough to live to borrow another day.
So my three loves, through our shared experiences and discussions about finances and budgeting,have come to learn that it is fine to borrow and get your basic priorities met:- food, rent, school and utilities. It is wiser to be in credit with a repayable plan, than to do without, simply because of fear of taking a risk. Experience is the best teacher, and rather than lament that we went through hardship, I thank God that my loves have learnt this through first hand experience.
Also too, that they have had a loving, caring mother to teach them the better way to handle life’s monetary problems and hardship situations.Many do not and it is a pity what disasters they face in life because of financial ignorance. There is no face to lose. Never has been for us. We are and have lived at peace with who we are, what station of life we are at and what other we aim for. No suffering could cause us shame.We have so much to be thankful for.So much that the Lord has bestowed on us!
All of us at one time or other in life, get through hardships. Some faring much worse than others. A lot depends on the guardian, parent or person in charge of guidance. Experience too teaches, but a guiding, loving hand alongside experience, makes it easier. How you handle financial tribulations, sets you up for life to bash you, or prepares you with abilities to outlast tougher times.
I left those friends behind, and I know I will get new ones. “Old” we are told “is gold”. I cannot lose face with my old friends, because they understand me, because they know me. “To know all, is to understand all” so the old adage goes. The character assassination committee lost a friend- maybe I was never really one in their eyes… I gained a teaching and an experience. Luckily….I have no face to lose.
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Emerald Sua is a Christian single mother who prides herself as a voluntary organizational guru for lives, systems, situations and homes.