“Francis, where do you think you’re going without leaving money for us?” came the question from Patience, his wife. She was really angry and almost out of breath. It was a Monday morning.
“To work of course. Where does it look like I’m going?” Francis asked as he buttoned up his shirt and bent down to pick up his tie from the bed.
“So how do the kids go to school?” came her next question.
“They’re also your children. You can fend for them. I’ve told you I don’t have money” he said cheekily and adjusted his tie.
“I’ve been doing that for quite some time now. All my money’s gone. I don’t have any left. At least help us this once” she protested.
“Woman, I’ve told you. Don’t disturb me. I don’t have money. If I had, I’d have given you. I’m running late for work. See you later” he said and shoved his pregnant wife aside. The look on the faces of his three little daughters sitting at the dining table on his way out did not even plead to his conscience.
He shut the wooden gate loudly behind him and started humming a song as he stepped out of the house with his left hand in his pocket and the right one holding on to his suitcase.
He entered the office minutes later, for his house was quite close to his workplace and smiled widely when he spotted Nina sitting behind her desk. Nina was a young girl of 24 who had been hired at the office not long ago. Ever since she came to the office, Francis had never given her a chance with his advances. He showered her with gifts and compliments always with the hope that she would eventually give in to his advances.
“Hello my sweetheart. How are you doing?” he asked.
Nina smiled and replied “I’m doing well”
“Your call never came. Eeii, is that how you are?” he asked.
Nina smiled and said nothing. She had grown tired of his persistent advances even though she had made it clear to him about her lack of interest.
He left her side and took his seat across her and eyed her at every opportunity he got. He was known to conquer and have his way with every lady he found attractive and he had tried for three months now to get Nina but she was proving quite difficult.
At lunch, he bought her a hearty meal and tried to woo her through that.
“So Nina, after all I’ve been doing for you, you still won’t allow me to date you? I supply you with call credits weekly, I buy you food and even give you money but you’re proving stubborn. Why?” he asked.
“Mr Agyemang, you have a wife and children. Are they not enough? I can’t do that to your family” came her blunt reply.
He wasn’t ready to give up so after work that day, he walked over to her desk and placed four crisp 50 cedi notes on her table. “Take it for your upkeep. I’ll top up later” he said and left before Nina could protest.
Nina stared at the money on her desk and wondered why the man was showering so much on her even when she had made it clear to him that she wasn’t interested.
She walked home lost in thoughts and was quite disturbed. Some few meters ahead of her, she caught sight of Francis’ heavily pregnant wife and three daughters approaching. She felt guilty and felt her tummy churning. Impulsively, she approached them.
“Hello Auntie Patience. How are you doing?” she greeted.
“See who we have here. Hey Mina, I’m doing well. It’s been quite long since I paid you all a visit at the office” she replied sweetly.
“The name is Nina. Haha” Nina said.
“My bad. Nina. I hope you’re fine too” she asked.
“Yes auntie. Oh see these little ones. Aren’t they adorable?” Nina said as she bent over to play with their cheeks. The eldest was six, the second was four and the youngest was two. They were all so cute and looked pretty in their school uniforms and similar braids.
“Are you going home or to the office?” Nina asked.
“We’re going home but I have to go to the bank first. I need to cash out some money” she replied.
“Auntie Patience, the bank would have closed by now. It’s a little after four” Nina told her as she looked at her wristwatch.
“Oh really? These girls have delayed me. Anyway I’ll do that tomorrow then. Thanks” she said quite disappointed.
Without thinking, Nina opened her bag, took out the four 50 cedi notes Francis had given her and folded them into small pieces. She knew what she was about to do was questionable but she went ahead.
“Here, take this” she said as she gave 100 cedis to the eldest, 50 cedis to the second and the last 50 cedis to the youngest. “Be good to mummy, okay?” she added.
“Say thank you” Auntie Patience urged them on, without any idea that what was in her daughters’ palms were cedi notes.
“Thank you Auntie Nina” the eldest said.
The second born just smiled shyly and the last one muttered out some strange words which made Nina and Auntie Patience burst out with laughter. Then they opened their palms and there came the shock.
“Oh Nina, you didn’t have to. That’s so much money. You have to take it back” Patience told her.
“It’s fine, don’t worry. I have to rush home now. I have quite a lot to do at home” Nina said and started leaving.
“Okay then. Be on your way and thanks so much for your kind gesture. God bless you” Patience told her silently rejoicing in her heart and also wondering why such a young girl would give out so much money.
“Ok girls. Bye” she gave them all a high-five and left.
Francis came home that night to find his family chatting happily over plates of Jollof rice and chicken, the family’s favourite. It had been quite long since they had such a meal since almost always, Francis claimed there was no money at home. Patience who was a petty trader, had spent all of her savings on her pregnancy and the upkeep of the home for the past three months.
“Good evening” he greeted and started towards the bedroom, wondering where all the joy was coming from and of course, the money for the Jollof rice. He usually came home to meet them quite sullen looking, waiting for him to provide money for supper.
“Francis, guess what? That Nina girl in your office amazed me today. We met her on our way home and she gave the girls a total sum of 200 cedis. I was so surprised and wasn’t really happy about it because it was so much money but she insisted so we took it anyway. Send my thanks to her tomorrow when you get to work ok” she narrated.
Francis felt a sharp turn in his tummy and stood shaking. “Did she say anything to you?” he asked in a shaky voice.
“Anything like what?” came her question.
“Never mind” he told her. He felt really bad and looked on quite abashed as his little girls munched happily on the rice. He felt guilty as it dawned on him how unfairly he was treating them. He walked slowly into the bedroom, slumped down and buried his face in his hands. The guilt was too much for him to bear. Nina had really taught him a lesson.