THE number of cases where some wives complain about their husbands failing to provide food for their families is worrying.
It is quite disheartening to hear such wives complaining about their husbands being irresponsible and neglecting their families.
In many magistrate’s courts, wives have sued their husbands accusing them to be cruel and failing to provide for their families.
In some instances, the wives have attributed their husbands’ failure to provide for their families to them having other women they were spending money on.
But the husbands have cited various excuses, including being denied their conjugal rights and their wives’ failure to perform household chores as the reasons for them not providing for their homes.
But whichever way one looks at it, providing food and other necessities for the family is an obligation husbands have to undertake no matter what the differences they may have with their spouses.
Despite the husbands not providing for the families, some wives sacrifice a lot to ensure that their families do not go without food.
The women use any money they might come across to buy food.
Some even sell some household items while in some cases, they borrow money so that they can feed their families, including their husbands.
With all the efforts made by such wives in their bid not to starve their families, it is perplexing that the husbands punish them for spending money meant for something else’ on food.
A few days ago, I was in Ndola’s Kabushi Township where I was invited by my cousin, Sam Jere (not real name) for some family discussions.
My cousin invited me together with other relatives to be part of a group that could help sort out a family problem.
It was about 14:00 hours when I got to Kabushi and we were gathered outside the house waiting for other people to come before we could start the discussions.
As we waited, one of the women who was also invited for the discussions, asked my cousin’s wife, Mrs Jere , who is my sister-in-law, whether her neighbour was around because she had not seen her since she came at about 10:00 hours in the morning.
Mrs Jere shook her head, indicating that her neighbour was not around.
She told the woman that it was now two months since her neighbour left to look for money.
Initially, her husband had been giving her msome money to keep but she spent it all on buying food.
“She has been away for two months now. Her husband sent her away to look for the money she had used,” Mrs Jere told the woman.
Her husband sent her away to look for the money she had spent on buying food?
As an eavesdropper, my ears were glued to the conversation.
How could a husband send his wife away to look for the money she had used on buying food?
Where could she go to look for the money? I wondered.
As I wondered about this, the woman, as if she was reading my mind, asked Mrs Jere how her neighbour had misused the money.
It was then that Mrs Jere started explaining why her neighbour was said to have misused the money which the husband wanted to use to buy a television set.
According to her explanation, the neighbour, together with her husband and their two children, were staying at the house left by the father of her husband who died a couple of years back.
Two other families (her husband’s brother and sister who were both married and had children) were also staying at the house which was known as a family house and the families shared the responsibilities.
This means all the three families were responsible and took turns in buying food – including mealie meal, relish, detergents and groceries.
As for the household goods such as furniture, each family was free to buy what it desired and it was from here that the problem emanated.
Mrs Jere explained that although there was a television set which their late father left, her neighbour’s husband was yearning for a plasma television set for his family.
Since the man was not in regular employment but did odd jobs at a certain company, he was saving some money which he was giving his wife to keep whenever he got his wages to enable him buy the plasma television.
“When he got his pay two months ago, the man asked his wife to give him the money he was putting aside because now the amount he had been aiming at had been achieved and he wanted to buy his plasma television.
“When the wife gave him the money, there was a shortage of K300,” explained Mrs Jere.
She said the man asked his wife what she had done with the money and when she told him that she was at times buying food, he was annoyed.
Mrs Jere said the woman told her husband that since he was not giving her money for food, although he was giving her money to keep, she had even bought a bag of mealie meal at K100 the previous month when they had run out of the commodity.
She said there were days when there was no relish and she could buy, but the man could not listen.
She explained that on being told this, the woman’s husband became very furious and blamed his wife for being foolish because of using the money meant for buying a television set on food.
Mrs Jere narrated that her neighbour’s husband told his wife that there were other people at home who could have bought food (referring to his brother and sister).
When his wife tried to explain to him that there were times when the people who were supposed to buy the food did not have money and there was no way she could keep the children and the other family members hungry when there was money in the house, her husband could not understand.
She said after a long time of her neighbour and her husband quarrelling, many people who, gathered to listen to the drama, said the woman was not wrong to buy food for the family.
But the man became very angry and started beating his wife in full view of the family members and the on-lookers.
“It was then that the man told his wife to go and find the money which he said she had misused and seeing that the problem would not be resolved, the woman packed her bags and went to her brother in Chingola to look for the K 300,” explained Mrs Jere.
While she was narrating the story, a man came out from the house next door and Mrs Jere pointed at him and told the woman she was explaining this to that that the man was her neighbour’s husband.
The woman ogled at the man and shook her head in disbelief.
When the man got back into the house, Mrs Jere continued explaining her neighbour’s sad ordeal to the woman.
As the conversation between the two women continued, a woman’s voice called:”Odini mukwayi.”
It was a group of people who had been invited to the discussions.
The conversation ended and we had to go into the house for the discussions.
As we were entering the house for the meeting, I was thinking of the man who had sent his wife away to go and look for the money she had been accused of misusing by buying food in preference to buying a plasma television set.
I thought this was a misplacement of priorities of the worst kind!
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