MY PENNY-PINCHING HUSBAND (SHORT STORY)
This story is a typical slice of life. I personally love and recommend it very much. It will make you laugh and give you food for thought as well. As the title, “My Penny-pinching Husband”, shows, it’s dealing with money matters and the situations that they are generating in a particular home as in many others owing to the poor economy.
Do read, comment and share. And in case you’re wondering, the story is entirely fictional.
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MY PENNY-PINCHING HUSBAND
As I was getting out the toothpaste from the bathroom cabinet, my husband, Desmond, brought me an unsolicited cup of water. (We didn’t have running water in our flat.)
“What is that for?”
“For brushing your teeth.” He stood there and crossed his arms, daring me to do otherwise. This was a fight waiting to happen. A gentle, inner voice told me to use the water but I wasn’t going to listen. I was going to give as good as I got this time around, no backing down.
“Mtcheew!” I hissed as I went to pick a sachet of water from the bag in the kitchen.
Expectedly, Desmond followed me.
“Why do you enjoy waste? What is wrong with brushing your teeth with water from the borehole?”
I ignored him and went back to brush my teeth at the bathroom sink.
“I’ve never asked you to drink it, you know, just to brush your teeth with it.”
I concentrated on my tongue like there was a prize to be won for my efforts. I was making a point in a way. Ignoring him was just as loud as arguing with him which I would get to shortly if he didn’t let up.
“Are you the only one who doesn’t realise that the prices of things in the country have skyrocketed?”
“You see, that’s the problem! You’re always checking the cost of everything, counting pennies like your life depends on it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! Why shouldn’t I check the cost of things …?” I cut him off.
“If that’s how you want to live your life, go ahead, but stop trying to drag me into it ’cause it won’t work.”
I rinsed my mouth, left him and went to the bedroom fuming. This argument had been smouldering under the surface of our exchanges about money matters for a long while, dating back to our courtship days. Desmond visited me once then and was alarmed that I drank bottled water at home! Apparently, as far as he was concerned, bottled water was meant solely for special occasions. Lol!
In six of the eight months that we’ve been married, he has made a show of being frugal by avoiding things he considered luxuries like jam, mayonnaise, eggs, corn flakes, stuff like that. He expected me to follow suit. But I pretended I didn’t notice. So if he skipped them while shopping, I bought them when I did.
Realising that subtle won’t do it, he began to voice his concerns. I refused to engage because I didn’t see what he hoped to accomplish and I didn’t want to create bad blood by arguing with him about it. But instead of letting sleeping dogs lie, he decided to push his agenda by bringing that cup of water to me. Well, I’d had enough and was glad I’d made my stance plain. In fact, I wasn’t satisfied. I needed to let him know I wasn’t having the environment of deprivation he was trying to foist on our home. So I went searching for him.
He was switching on the TV by remote to listen to the news but that wasn’t gonna happen.
“Why are you trying to make my life miserable? How can you deliberately punish us by cutting off the few comforts we have?”
I was expanding the scope of the argument to encompass all the cuts Desmond had made lately like lowering our cable TV subscription to the cheapest bouquet that entitles one to watch only several channels (mostly news stations) and refusing to repair our generator, forcing us to stay without power when the utility company failed us (which was like every other day).
“Stop the drama, Gladys! We can do without a few luxuries until the economy improves.”
“No, we cannot! It’s not like we’ve been living large. Not even close. And now, you want to make our lives unbearable!”
“Listen to yourself. If you want to know the true meaning of ‘unbearable’, go to the villages ….”
“Stop! Just stop with the guilt-tripping. I’m not responsible for the people in the villages and I won’t improve their situation by punishing myself. We need to live our lives with as much comfort as we can afford. Otherwise, we might be cutting our lives short unnecessarily.”
“Things are hard …”
“Will you stop saying that? I haven’t told you to buy a new car or build a house. I’m not making any frivolous demand but I can assure you that I won’t let you tie me up in wretchedness the way you are planning.”
“When the economy improves ….”
“And when will that be? Does the country look like things will look up anytime soon? The only way to handle this situation is to use your resources to live your life, otherwise one will go crazy.”
“Can we talk about this some other time? I do need to listen to the news.”
“Why? So that you can hear of more doom and gloom to justify tightening our belts further? Anyway, there’s nothing more to talk about. I won’t allow my life and happiness to be stifled by Nigeria’s poor economic fortunes. And you better not harass me anymore about this.”
Desmond was no longer paying attention. He had selected a local news station and was raising the sound.
I went to the bedroom and got dressed. I felt I still needed to drive my point home. So I went to a nearby street vendor and bought fresh fruits worth a thousand Naira (a few each of mangoes, oranges and avocado pears).
When I got home, I washed the pears to eat bread with them. I invited Desmond to join me and, sure enough, he asked me what I paid for each pear.
“A hundred and fifty Naira,” I replied. “I want to eat pears and I will buy them if I have the money, irrespective of the cost.”
Desmond declined and I laughed knowing that he will later eat it. I’m so thankful I have a good job and we’re keeping our finances separate. Otherwise he might just kill himself, not me, with this his penny-pinching habit and I’m not ready to be a widow. And to further save him from himself, I will fix that generator today or buy a new one. I will also restore our former cable bouquet so we can have our pick of great shows to relax with after a hard day’s work.
You only live once, they say. Bad economy or not, Desmond and I will enjoy our lives. He may argue a little at first but I know he’ll have fun and we’ll be happy as we deserve to be.
As I watched him frowning as he focused on the news, I felt I may have been brash in talking to Desmond earlier. I didn’t want him to feel bad ’cause our differences aside, I love him very much and want nothing but the best for him. So I left my food and went to him for a cuddle. So much for watching the news! #winks
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2017
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LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Which of these characters are you like: Gladys or Desmond?
Do you think Gladys is being unreasonable about how to spend money?
Are there some strategies you have adopted to cope with the high cost of living? Do share with us.
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