The strength of a woman

Gloria, a housewife knew that she was done this time.Her husband had stated that this would be the last project he ever funded.

“In any case why do you need your own money, don’t I provide for every thing you need?” He had asked.

He was right, Owen did provide all she asked for but she wasn’t satisfied. Her hair was always on fleek, her outfits stylish and her son was well taken care of.

But there was something Gloria did not like. Owen thought that her duties as a housewife were enough for her. He felt as if extra work would overwhelm her. But he was wrong, the boredom and monotony of housework was what was overwhelming her.

Then there was something that did not go well with her. The fact that she had to ask for the money.

“Owen dear, please do not forget to send me the money I requested for yesterday.” She had to be extremely meek and polite while requesting for some cash.

Owen kept mum. Gloria wondered why he was silent, was it to deliberately ignore her or was he too engrossed in his work on the computer to hear her? She always had to ask again.

“Dear? Did you hear me?” She asked.

He would signal her to wait, his eyes on his laptop. Then after a long minute, he would close his laptop and turn his attention on her.

“What was the money for,again?” He asked, and she would repeat the same story she had told the previous day.

“What? All that for hair? Ok, I will see what I will do.” He would finally say. Gloria felt bothered about this. She did not want to sit back and wait for Owen to give it all. She wanted her own money.

This would not bother other women. In fact while confiding to her friends, they reproached her for not being grateful that all her needs were met without having to pour a sweat.

“Gloria, be happy that you just sit and the money comes, some of us do everything in the house. My husband has never bought anything in that house we live in. Even the house itself, was built by me, through chamas and my mitumba business.” A friend revealed.

“I wish I was like you. Me, a single mother, I am both the father and mother to my children. They have no one else to look upto but me! Their father disappeared a long time ago to avoid responsibilities. ” The second friend said.

The women continued to show her how better her life was. That she should be comfortable in her status quo.

They were right that man must provide. If he can, he should. They were also right that Owen was a good man. But Gloria felt strongly about two being better than one. She had convinced Owen enough times about him funding her projects.

The first project was a salon. She had stocked it with all a good salon needed : two head dryers, three blow- dryers, hair chemicals, manicure and pedicure sets, oils, wigs, hair pieces, name them.

She had three employees and the business was doing great until she became pregnant with their first child.

The smoke from the blow drying always made her feel nauseated. Owen was scared it would harm the baby. She stayed home and even when she gave birth, Owen wouldn’t allow her to go back. He insisted that his child should not be brought up by a maid but it’s mother.

Consequently, for lack of supervision, the salon went down the drain. She closed it and sold the items to a willing buyer.

When a four year old Damon joined nursery school, Gloria humbly pleaded with her husband to start a business for her again. He rebuffed her at first, reminding her of how the last one did not succeed. But she swallowed the criticism and continued pleading until he finally accepted.

She wanted to join her friend in the sale of mitumba.(second hand clothing). She always admired the great heights her friend had reached from this business. So Gloria knew that with her friend’s guidance, she too would do great in that business.

But Owen did not like the mitumba part.

“You are the wife of a Senior ICT Officer, I cannot allow you to deal with second hand clothes. That job is too low for my wife.” He bragged.

But she beseeched him for two days until he reluctantly said yes. Unfortunately, one month after starting the promising business, a fire broke out and all her merchandise were burnt down. Owen stated, with finality that he was done with financing into projects that were doomed to fail.

Gloria went to being a housewife again. She also had resolved to settle and let Owen be the sole provider. But she felt imprisoned. Worse still she hated that she couldn’t even provide a few coins for her son’s snacks.

“Mum, please buy me Batman’s chewing gum!” Damon pestered over and over.

“I don’t have money son. Don’t worry tomorrow I will buy it for you when we ask daddy for more money.”

Another time, Damon approached his mother.

“Mother, I want a bicycle like the one Wallace has!”

“You will have to ask your father, I don’t have that kind of money.” She responded.

Damon waited patiently for his father to come and made his request.

“Son, wait until you are big enough. If I buy a bicycle you will not be able to ride it since you are still very young. I will buy you one when you are seven years old.” His father said.

Damon tried convincing his father that he was big enough, that he even could perfectly ride his friend Wallace’s bike but his father’s decision was final.

When Gloria later attempted to convince him that indeed their son needed a bike, he disclosed that he just couldn’t afford to buy one at that moment. He would buy one in the future when his finances became stable.

“You know if I had my own money, I would have assisted you.” She commented.

“I agree, but why task yourself with more work when there is so much in the house to do? I haven’t said I will not buy the bike, just not now. “

Gloria tried to plead him to inject cash in an investment but he had lost faith in her business proposals.

She could not blame him but only sulk. She was stuck in this job of washing dishes, preparing meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry and she did it well for her house was always neat, she cooked very good meals and her husband always wore clean shirts and suits and her child was healthy. She was de facto a good housewife.

Nevertheless, she felt trapped. To her, she could do so much more. Even when everybody admired her life, a part of her told her she was missing out on making something out of her life.

But how could she commence on anything when her husband had given up on her? Her only investor? She did not want to borrow loans from friends in case things did not work out and she would have to go to her husband to compensate them on her behalf and she did not want that.

It was time she accepted her life as a housewife, she sighed as she washed the spinach for the evening meal.

She started to arrange the spinach leaves on her left hand in readiness to chop them long and thin. She hated this part of preparation.

She was holding a tight bunch of spinach leaves on her left hand, chopping them quickly like mama mboga when she accidentally cut her purlicue.

“Ouch!” She exclaimed as the space betwen her thumb and forefinger started to bleed.

The pain and bleeding was too much to bear. She tied it with a bandage and packed the spinach in a paper bag to take to her mama mboga to assist her cut them for a fee. Gloria preferred to chop her own greens because she cut them to even small sizes unlike mama mboga who chopped them into big different sizes but having cut her hand, she had no choice.

“I also cut my fingers all the time Mama Damon and I continue with my work as usual. It’s normal when doing this kind of job!” Mama Mboga laughed but did not realize what she had revealed to Gloria.

Mama Mboga had disclosed that many times her customers had consumed her blood or small pieces of her skin that had been chopped off and fallen in the kales or spinach. Gloria was now keen as mama mboga cut hers up but vowed never to buy chopped kales.

She went back home, and started to cook. She had lost her appettite due to what the market woman had divulged to her. The TV was on, her son had fallen asleep on the couch and her husband was busy working on his laptop. He had told Gloria that he had made a mistake at work that was threatening his position at the workplace.

Gloria was lazily flipping through the channels when she saw a farming show in one of the networks. She did not know why she thought to stop but she started to watch it. The show was about feeding cows. She saw as the farmer cut the nappier grass using a chaff cutter.

Chaff cutter

She watched as the chaff cutter quickly chopped the grass into small pieces. She was fascinated! Then it hit her!

She couldn’t sleep that night. The following morning she prepared her husband for work and child for school. She finished all her tasks and then headed for a welder’s workshop that was a few metres from their apartment.

The welder in charge listened to her intently and then burst out laughing at her request. He saw the serious look on her face and pulled a straight face fast.

He said he needed a week for him to complete such an assignment but confessed he had never done that before.

A week later, Gloria went to get her finished product and ‘Voila!’ It was just as she had imagined it! She had some few savings (a woman must not stay coinless in case of an emergency). She paid and went to mama mboga.

“Oh My! I like this! It cuts the kales in a minute! Do you have another? Or can you sell it to me?” Mama Mboga exclaimed still experimenting with the small machine.

“If you give me 8k, its all yours!” Gloria said, crossing her fingers.

“Mmm…I have 4k here with me now, please, trust me that tomorrow you will have the other 4k.” Mama Mboga pleaded anxiously.

Gloria could not believe it. She had paid the welder 3k. What a profit! She turned to leave when another market woman shrieked.

“Haiiiya! Mama Jose, where did you get that machine, look at how fast it is chopping your kales, and see how neat they are. I want!” The woman shouted watching the machine doing it’s miracle.

“This woman here,” Mama Mboga said, pointing at Gloria, “She is selling them!”

“Weee, I also want!” Another yelled.

“Me too!” Another woman exclaimed.

Gloria took thirty orders from excited market women who even paid deposit money. She went to the welder and made an offer that he couldn’t refuse.

Two months later, Owen was fired from his job. He had comitted internet fraud and this had cost him dearly. He was not sure if any other company would appoint him.

“I don’t know what we shall do Gloria. ICT is the only thing I know.” He sobbed.

She finally told him about her breakthrough. All this time she had kept it a secret from him. He was skeptical at first but the next morning, he took him to a tented field. There were about twenty men, working on small chaff-cutter like machines. Three hired pick-ups were being loaded to take the machines to various sales points. A serious supervisor was ensuring all was running smoothly. It was the welder who did the first product.

“I have being seeing this tent as I drive home but never did I imagine that it belonged to my wife…” he was astounded. “Wow.”

She showed him the financial statements , the business licences and permits, etc.

“You thought all these through?” He asked.

She nodded. There was a lot to do yet, she said. He stared at her, his wife was adding millions to the millions in her bank account and yet he had been there wondering how he would place a plate of food on the table, pay school fees for their son or pay rent for their apartment. He was stunned and proud.

Where there was a tent now lies a big industry. Gloria now feels the contentment she craved for, those days. Owen tried to be a house husband but found it overwhelming. His wife gave him a position in the company, Director.

He is amazed at how his wife can multitask. If she is not in her CEO office, she is in the house making a nice meal for her family. He is awed at how she could be breastfeeding their second born, supervising Damon’s homework while making a business call.

“Darling, you are like a browser with 1003 tabs open.” He always tells her.

-THE END-

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