The day my aunt cried
I was still a young girl but I will never forget the day my aunt cried because she did not have a bank account. What seemed easy for everyone else proved to be a mountain for my aunt? She had discovered that my mother had a personal bank account and was amazed and hurt at the same time because she did not have one and all her money was banked in my uncle’s bank account.
She cried bitterly that day, she was a farmer and at the grain marketing board they required an account into which they would pay the money. My uncle refused to give her permission to open an account because everything that my aunt earned belonged to him and he would make decisions on how to spend the money. For a long time she had wanted a new dining room set but after toiling and promises, whenever the time arrived my uncle had changed his mind about how the money would be spend.
So this day was a life changing day for her –a woman like her had an account and she declared that she would have one. Though too young to sit in the lounge with the elders, I remember my uncle refused her access to open an account and she told him that she would go back to her people. I remember her brother arriving late in the night to find the way forward as her marriage was threatened by this event. The two men talked late into the night.
Early the following morning my aunt was up early and she wore her best dress. I knew something important was going to happen although I did not know what. “Can I come with you?” I asked. But wearing a serious and formal face, she said I could not go because she was going to the bank. The last part was said with a big grin on her face. Finally, she was going to get a bank account. She was illiterate so my mother was taking her to help with the paper work and after that season’s harvest she got her new dining room set.
Now whenever I visit I look at the set and I remember my aunt crying. The patriarchal politics were playing out right before my eyes and I did not know that one day I would also be shedding the same tears to get my independence, not to open an account but to speak, be heard and follow my dreams. Whenever I see a bank it’s a symbol for the fight to gain recognition and be seen as a person, an independent person other than wife. It is the day an uneducated woman cried to have her financial freedom. The lesson I have learnt is speak out about things that hurt you and be prepared that some may not agree then that also means that you got to do what you got to do to make others listen to you and be happy.