Yohana whistles softly as he rinses his client’s shampooed head with warm water. He is in a good mood. His business has been picking up and his relationship is on very solid ground. Yohana is a barber. He runs a small barbershop just outside Shava University. The shop has become popular amongst students, both male and female. He is the only barber at his shop, although he dreams of the day he will own a large barbershop and hair salon with many employees.
But he cannot complain. So far life is good. With his barbershop picking up, he has now moved from the single room he started out in to a bedsitter. He no longer has to brave the rain if he needs to relieve his bladder at night, and he doesn’t have to keep quarrelling with his neighbors over the cleanliness of the toilet. Now he has the luxury of showering and relieving himself without having to leave the confines of his little house.
In the past one year, he has managed to buy a nice 4×6 bed to replace the creaking 3×6 wooden disaster that he had acquired from his uncle; he has also bought a proper mattress to fit on the bed; he now owns a 24 inch television; a modest music system that he has put at his barbershop instead of his house; and most importantly, a 6kg LPG gas cylinder. He no longer struggles under the fumes of his kerosene stove and the smoke from the charcoal stove when preparing his meals. He cooks his own dinner and breakfast, but eats lunch at a cafeteria that serves students just outside the university’s main gate.
He is preparing to get married. Yohana and his girlfriend Rhoda have been dating for two years now, and two months ago he asked her to marry him. She agreed. He has already gone for introductions at their home, and their traditional wedding is set for next month. Yohana has been saving, and he believes he has enough to pay dowry.
He doesn’t have enough to fund the church wedding, but his pastor has assured him that the church will support him.
“Do not worry brother Yohana. Since you have decided to honor God with holy matrimony, unlike many of the young people in your generation, then we will stand with you.”
Yohana is a youth leader at Shava Full Gospel Church. That is where he met Rhoda, another active member of the church. Rhoda is a hair stylist at one of the local salons, and Yohana hopes to raise enough capital within a year after the wedding to help him expand his business to include a salon, so that Rhoda can join him in growing the family enterprise. Maybe one day they will become celebrity hair therapists with tonnes of money.
The only challenge he knows he will have working with Rhoda is financial management. Rhoda lives for the moment, and she blows her entire salary within the first week after getting paid. More often than not, Yohana has to buy her foodstuff because by midmonth she is usually very broke. The worst part is that she usually has nothing to show for the money, except perhaps a new dress or a pair of shoes. The rest is spent paying up pledges she made in church or to help people who come to her pleading for cash because they are in a “tight spot”.
But other than her problems with financial management, Rhoda is a very nice girl, and Yohana feels fortunate to have her. In fact, her weakness stems from her generosity, which really points to the goodness of her heart. The only difference between them is that Yohana believes that it is not wise to give out all your money and have to beg for your personal expenses.
When Yohana and Rhoda discussed their post-wedding finances, they agreed that Rhoda will be ceding half of her salary to Yohana. Yohana will add it to his own income and foot all the expenses of the house. Rhoda will be free to do whatever she wishes with the other half of her salary. By their projections, this arrangement will allow them to move from their respective bedsitters into a one-bedroom house.
The arrangement will not change even if they decide to be working together. Yohana currently pays himself a monthly salary. They will just need to agree on what Rhoda’s salary will be, based on the expected income from the salon side of the business.
Yohana is very particular about the way he uses his finances. He doesn’t just spend because he feels like it. He plans. One third of his salary goes to savings; the second third goes to his monthly bills, which includes rent for both his house and shop, electricity bills and his meals; the last third goes to ‘entertainment’. This last part is what he uses to buy things like the TV, the bed, his clothes, etc.
The ‘entertainment’ money is also the money that he uses to bail out Rhoda whenever she is in financial distress and also occasionally take her out on a date. If he exhausts the money he has set aside for entertainment, then he stops spending until the end of the next end month. Any income that he gets over and above his salary goes to his business account. His business is registered as a business name, and has an account of its own.
Even with his best efforts at financial planning, Yohana cannot afford to take her to Hotel Shava, but there are a number of good and affordable restaurants around Shava town.
IMAX has just opened a theatre in Shava, and Rhoda has been yearning to go and watch a movie. But with the pressure of planning for the dowry event, and with Rhoda’s regular budgetary shortfalls, Yohana doesn’t have much money to spare. He has promised her that they will go for proper dates after the wedding. He hopes that after he takes control of both their bills, they will have more entertainment money.
Yohana smiles at his girlfriend through the window. It is about 5.30 pm, and Rhoda has come to pick him so that they can attend the evening church service. Yohana usually closes the shop at 8pm, but on Wednesdays he closes at 6pm so that he can attend the evening service at their church. In addition to the girl whose head he is cleaning, he has two more clients waiting on queue; a girl who is a regular, and a man who is coming for the first time. Like most of his customers, the two girls are university students. Yohana is not sure about the man.
“Hi sweetheart,” Rhoda greets Yohana as she enters the barbershop.
“Hello babe. You are here early.”
“Yea, I skipped lunch today so that I could leave early. By the way babe, do you know The Avengers is showing today at IMAX?”
Yohana hesitates. They have had this discussion before, so he doesn’t understand why she is bringing it up again, especially in public. He doesn’t like discussing his affairs in public.
“I know babe, but you know we can’t afford to go right now. Besides, aren’t we going to church today?”
“I was just saying,” Rhoda replies, although there is disappointment in her voice.
“I can take you to watch the movie,” the male customer says.
Everyone turns to look at him, including the two female customers.
“What?” the man asks defensively, looking defiantly at all the faces glaring at him.
“You can’t take her out. She is Yohana’s girlfriend,” the girl waiting on the line says. Her name is Julia. She is a rich kid and always comes to the barbershop in a Vitz Jewella. Her clothes and jewelry are expensive and she has an expensive phone, on which she is scrolling as she waits for her turn. But she always looks comfortable at Yohana’s small barbershop.
“What is wrong with that? The girl wants to watch a movie. Yohana can’t afford to take her, but I can. What is your name miss?” the man asks, turning to Yohana’s girlfriend.
“Look Rhoda, if you want to watch a movie, we can go watch a movie. I am not asking you to be my girlfriend or anything, so your boyfriend has no reason to be jealous. I just want you to go and have a good time. I will drop you at your house or your boyfriend’s house if you wish.”
He speaks with so much arrogance that Yohana feels like hitting him; but he chooses to ignore him. Rhoda will not pay him any attention, so why should he allow himself to get worked up?
The man looks wealthy, judging from his clothes, his watch, his phone, the chains on his neck and the black Honda CRV that he has parked outside. He also appears to be older than the average university student. Maybe he is one of the younger lecturers. Unlike Julia, he looks extremely uncomfortable at the barbershop. It is almost as if he was forced to come here.
“So, what do you say, Rhoda?” the man presses. “That black car outside is waiting for you to decide whether you want to watch The Avengers tonight.”
Rhoda hesitates, and then turns to Yohana.
“Babe, can I go? I really want to watch The Avengers.”
Yohana is shocked. He did not think that Rhoda would even consider it.
“That decision is yours to make sweetheart.”
“Will you be angry if I go?”
“Of course I will be disappointed if you choose to go. Do you even know the name of this man before you follow him?”
“Relax, brother. I am not stealing your girlfriend. Zach is my name, Rhoda. And you don’t have to be afraid. I am a born again Christian. Besides, IMAX is a public place, and Hotel Shava is also a public place. Maybe God just brought me here to answer your prayers. This is your chance to watch The Avengers.”
Rhoda looks at Yohana apologetically.
“I am sorry babe. I have always wanted to go to IMAX and you know that we cannot afford it. I think Zach is right; God has answered my prayers. I will see you tomorrow. Let us go, Zach.”
Yohana watches in disbelief as Zach helps Rhoda get onto the front passenger seat of the CRV. Zach then climbs onto the driver’s seat and drives off.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/wooden-wood-room-people-man-guy-2562234/
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