Hello and welcome to a new edition of ‘Honest Conversation’ by Modupe Ehirim. These are deep and thoughtful musings from a woman who has been married for over three decades. They are insightful, delightful and teach a lot. These posts are usually on Sundays but we had issues with our internet and so you’re getting this one on a Tuesday. Look out for more Honest Conversations on Sunday or read the previous ones by clicking this link.
[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”640″][/media-credit]We had been married for a couple of years and things were progressing really nicely. I was a Manager and my Oga was then a Senior Manager. We had two cars and two drivers. In the morning, I would get into my car and sit through the traffic to Lagos Island. On arrival at the car park in Marina, my driver would settle down to an easy relaxed wait which spanned eight to ten hours depending on the day’s challenges in Madam’s office. Things would have gone in this way but for a rude awakening.
In 1994, under the Abacha regime, petrol prices jumped from N3.25 to N15 per liter. After some protest by organized labour, the price eventually settled at N11 per liter. Still N11 was a very far cry from N3.25. And so there was a quick meeting of the Management Committee in my home, comprising Oga and myself. At that meeting, we decided that it was foolish to continue to use two cars and two drivers, given that my driver was really being paid to take a long nap each day. In addition, at the new petrol price, the cost of fuelling my car each month was more than the salary I earned at the time. Wise thinking by the Management Committee you’d agree.
Implementation began immediately. We immediately disengaged my driver. A new routine began for the family. We all set out in the morning with Oga’s driver, dropping the children off in their school, Oga in his office, and finally me in my office. In the evenings, I joined Oga in the office and we made our way back home. As time went on, Oga sometimes closed much later than I did, so I resorted to using the danfo buses for the ride home when this happened.
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The nearest bus stop to our home was a reasonable walking distance away. Neighbours would say hello as I walked home and ask “Madam, what happened to your car?” As this happened, I felt a loss in status. It didn’t matter that, it happened just once or twice in a week. Sometimes, I wanted Oga’s driver to take me to the market, and he wasn’t available. The seed for discontent was sown.
I wish I could truthfully say that I brought the matter up for discussion with Oga immediately. No I didn’t. Rather, I allowed it to simmer in my mind for some time and persuaded myself that Oga was cheating me. Why was he not arranging his schedule so that we could ride home together at the end of each day and spare me this embarrassment? Why couldn’t I have the car and driver when I wanted it?
Thankfully, I remembered that I had read in a book on marriage that your spouse is not a mind reader. If you don’t tell him, he won’t know the things on your mind. I eventually made time to talk with Oga about it. Together we examined the reasons why we decided to use one car and driver instead of two. We decided to stick with the decision because it still made sense. We adjusted the implementation slightly. On Sunday afternoons, Oga and I looked at the week ahead and harmonized our schedules. The smile returned to my face.
On the few occasions that I used the danfo and my neighbours asked about my car, I told them that I had chosen to take the bus. I no longer felt bad because I knew Oga really cared about me. He was not deliberately choosing to make life difficult for me.