The bookeeper

Saturday March 9 2019



Mark Kawalya

Mark Kawalya 

By Mark Kawalya

The 74-year-old woman sips black tea from a ceramic gray mug. The tea has been sweetened with honey from the farm she lives on with her husband. She is sitting before a well-used dining table with stocky wooden legs. If you looked closely you would wonder if this dinning table really needs these wooden legs to be as stocky as they are. But you are not a carpenter so you ask no questions.

Two chairs of the original six from this dining setup are also missing.

The woman’s husband is not in the house. He is somewhere in the plantation checking on a banana sucker or doing whatever husbands do in the farm. Retired now, she and spends most of her time involved in activities at the nearby church. She never misses the daily morning Mass. The one that her husband of 52 years never runs out of excuses for not attending.

One time, he feigned a fever and stayed in bed resting. On her return, she was surprised to find him in the cowshed busy milking one of the cows.
Let us give this lady a name because saying 74-year-old woman gets a little monotonous. Let us call her Rhoda. Rhoda has raised five children with this husband who finds excuses to dodge daily morning Mass.
She worked as a teacher for 33 years at local secondary school. Her subject of choice was mathematics. Rhoda has always had a way with numbers. Her husband, the one who spends time in the company of cows and banana suckers, uses her as the farm bookkeeper.

She gives him a run down of how much money the farm has made that month, Vis a vis the daily overheads. I would not normally use the word Vis a vis but there is a way it flows with the general setting of this story. Rhoda has records that go back years on how the farm is performing. If there was a need for it, she would even plot line graphs to show this information on an annual basis. She is meticulous and has a way with numbers.
Her husband enters the house wearing a pair of soiled gumboots. He wants to get a piece of left-over yam and return to the farm.
Rhoda looks at him, then the gumboots and looks at him yet again. He smiles sheepishly because he knows he has been told about bringing dirty gumboots into the house before.
As we celebrate women’s day this week, let us be thankful to the women that keep things running the way things should run.

Advertisement