Nobody would have believed that food prices, would rise to the ridiculous level they now are. I’ve observed consumers stare longingly at market stalls and hungrily watch food items they can no longer cart home. Some mothers don’t even bother to go to the markets.
They simply send their offspring with a list of what to buy based on the ready cash that is available. “The last time I did the shopping myself”, explained one such mother, “I ended up blowing a whole fortnight’s housekeeping money on food items I’d missed on the dinner table for ages. Reality soon set it when we had to eat garri for most of that month.
Is it any wonder that a lot of people are now devising ingenious ways of keeping body and soul together, especially now garri has turned an essential commodity? One of such people is Alero, a single mother who recently turned thirty.
An English graduate, she settled for teaching in a secondary school when she couldn’t get the fancy job she thought a university degree would get her. Making ends meet was a nightmare. A colleague took her once to visit an uncle and the old soldier actually showed interest in her.
She nearly choked with laughter. Not only was the man on the wrong side of sixty, but a couple of his front teeth were also missing, giving him a Baba Sala look. She might be in between boyfriends and finding life as a single mother unbearable, but she wasn’t this desperate, she thought. As they left the old man’s house, she was pleasantly surprised when he gave both of them money for transport.
Very generous he was too. “You’d better put your thinking cap on”, her friend warned as Alero continued to hoot with laughter at the uncle’s audacity. “My uncle is loaded and has just lost his wife.
He lives in that big house with house helps that comes and goes, stealing some of his things. You currently have accommodation problems and you don’t even know when the private school you work for will reopen so you could earn your full salary. If you play your cards right, you could live in some of those empty rooms and have free meals to boot. Just think about it”.
“And thought about it I did”, Alero continued. “Especially, when my son started school and I had to pay all those fees, I told my friend from the school of my decision and we went back to his uncle. He was quite helpful and suggested I should move in right away. His house wasn’t even far from both my school and my son’s. So, I moved in and took over the running of the house.
“I cleaned the whole place up and got more reliable helps. Delicious meals became a regular feature in the house and the poor man was grateful. He was a decent chap who paid for most of our needs, but the most harrowing bit was satisfying his own needs.
He apparently believed that a man has to make love to a woman living under his roof no matter how old and incapacitated he was. His attempt at lovemaking was pathetic. He would prance all over the place, putting on archaic music and running his grubby hands all over me, yet his body refused to respond.
We would both be naked and he would just be grinning from ear to ear, apologising for being such a failure. I would remind him that he had just lost his wife and should give himself a certain period to grieve. That usually made him relax.
“At first his children were skeptical about our relationship, but when they saw how clean the house was and how well cared for their father looked, they accepted me. They are all married and couldn’t look after the poor man themselves. They must have been terribly relieved that he has round-the-clock care.
“I give myself a couple of years with him to enable me to save enough to start some sort of business. When I told him of my plans, he encouraged me to convert his garage into a super-market and the profit I’m making is quite encouraging. I put all thought of re-marrying on hold. The last man I thought I would get married to turned out to be stringing about three of us along! He left two pregnant before he bolted out of the country.
“I have decided to stay here for as long as it takes to make me financially independent. `The old man doesn’t bother me with sex anymore. But I won’t want my son to grow up with such an old man as a father figure. I only pray that the economy doesn’t keep on the way it is, otherwise the money I’m stashing away now might not be worth the papers it is printed on when I eventually want to use it.”