The family budget

The family budget

Husband and wife arguing over ‘chopmoney’EVERY family has a Finance Minister. Such a minister is normally the head of the house, in other words the Executive President.

One of the characteristics of the finance minister is that he has a moustache with or without a ‘goatee.’

Husband and wife arguing over ‘chopmoney’

The moustache is usually twitched to frighten undisciplined children and the ‘goatee’ is used to terrify the wife. In fact the ‘goatee’ always reminds the wife of a he-goat and its gimmicks and antics. After painstaking research, my bosom friend Kokotako has come out with the conclusion that men with ‘goatee’ are more sexually appealing to women.

The Sikaman family life is an interesting one in that nothing is done according to the 1992 Constitution. The Finance Minister of the home is not supposed to present the family budget to the wife and children who are the family equivalent of the national Parliament.

He decides what the chop money must be, whether the wife must perm or jerry the hair, whether the kids must eat oats and milk for breakfast or zorzor, alias ‘yorke gari’ alias ‘yorks’. In effect, there is nothing like democracy much more the Westminister variation of it.

In extreme cases where the husband has the credentials of Adolf Hitler, he assumes kitchen-power and fetches the soup during supper. He sits behind the soup with a pot-belly and unilaterally decides who should get what size of meat and what level of soup.

 Almost invariably, there is military discipline in the family such that the wife can only sneeze on Sundays and public holidays. Every minute, the man growls like a tiger while opening and closing his eyes like a maniac. All these are reinforced by a bottle of peters (bitters) in an obscured corner, often under the bed which is refilled every three hours.

“Kwadwo, run like a hare to Davi’s place and top my bitters before I somersault. In fact, if you don’t run like Ben Johnson under the influence of steroids, I’ll break your neck. Remember, I have to take three tots before caning you for not fetching water yesterday.”

Yes, Akpeteshie also gives appetite for fathers. Taking some tots, they start thinking where to seek political asylum because as a Lagosian would say, ‘Trouble don come for house.’

When I was in Class Six, our teacher once told us that in the developed countries families were often very concerned about the management of their homes and so man and wife often held weekly, fortnightly or monthly meetings to draw the family budget.

This is made possible by a joint account. The family’s needs from soap and cigarettes to blue jeans and holiday trips are budgeted for. That way things are done in an orderly manner and there is no case of over- spending, under-spending or ‘chobo’.

Perhaps, this is the ideal thing to do in Sikaman, but here there are obvious problems. First, the family’s income is often inadequate because of many factors including the man’s appetite. Secondly, there is a concealment of income on both sides.

The husband will declare ¢40,000 when his take-home pay is ¢60,000, meaning the extra will be used to finance personal habits and the needs of girlfriends.

The wife will also under-declare what she makes each day at the market for fear that her husband would force her to contribute to the upkeep of the home. So when she says she made only 4,000, she is in fact asking you to multiply it by 2/½ to get the correct figure. So in fact she made 9,000. It’s quite funny and you’ll have to be well-versed in JSS Mathematics to cope with her pace.

Because of all these, it is impossible for husband and wife to sit at table to draw the family budget. This is one of the reasons why some churches demand that prospective brides and grooms attend marriage counselling school for at least six months before being allowed to marry.

In the marriage school, they are taught home management and how to arouse sexual feelings in their mates. The man is cautioned on the dangers of drinking raw akpeteshie and the sins of chasing women like a bearded he-goat. “Don’t also beat your wife. God doesn’t like that.”

The woman is advised not to talk too much ‘rubbish’, not to have too many friends and taught how to please a man’s heart by pleasing his stomach with good food. She is warned not to converse with other men on frivolous topics that might lead to sexy topics etc.

Normally such lectures are helpful, but it turns out that the couples are only prepared to adhere to only 10 percent of what they are taught. Ninety percent of what they learn are impracticable, so the marriage school is only considered as a waste of time.

Well, my former classmate Kwame Korkorti, the born-mathematician, has long detected that since money palaver is the cause of many shattered marriages, couples need to be more transparent, communicative and co-operative in solving their financial problems.

Observation has shown that marriages break more often not because of the lack of money per se, but because of the mistrust on both sides as far as money matters are concerned. It might be that the man really has no money but the woman feels he has and is using it to chase other women, etc.

 It all boils down to honesty, sincerity, goodwill, understanding and a desire to make the marriage work with or without money palaver. Let’s not make money the basis of a successful marriage.

Wishing all readers and fans of Sikaman Palava a nice week-end.

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