When I was first introduced to unsecured loans in Nigeria, I usually only took it as an advance of my salary. I had a poor saving habit because first of all, my parents were terrible with money, always spending money on the most unnecessary things – just like most Nigerian parents – and personally, I spend a large chunk of my salary on upgrading my wardrobe (because I must not stop looking good), food, both eat outs and stocking my kitchen with food items (because life is too short not to eat) and other miscellaneous shenanigans I cannot really remember. By the time these expenses have been removed from my salary, there is no naira left for savings.
Yes, I know what you want to say, like parents like offspring. Agreed, but don’t they say an apple doesn’t fall far from its tree?
When my friends and I gather for the weekend movement, they find a way to talk about their saving and I never stop asking them why on earth they need to save. What are you saving for when you are assured of your salary at the end of the month, I mean there is always money at the end of the month to spend and fund our lifestyle so why wish evil upon yourself by saving? They won’t stop giving me “that look” anytime I told them my mind because I just couldn’t comprehend why.
Anyway, things were going so well until one of our friends decided to get married and we were to buy aso-ebi it was a bit on the expensive side. No, that is not the point; of course weddings are a part of the regular Nigerian schedule so that isn’t a problem. The problem was that she planned a location wedding, in the Caribbean and of course, I was invited. If you’ve been Nigerian for so long, you will agree with me that there are some events you just must not miss. This is one of such events.
Another gbege is that travel costs were totally on an OYO – like strictly on your own – basis.
I had almost nothing in my account as at time of invitation but you know, I cannot fall my own hands now, so I decided to save for the next three months before the wedding, I was able to save and gather enough money for the trip, tickets, reservation and extra cash for light shopping. At the end of the wedding, I was back to square one without savings but who cares? I turned up and the wedding was so lit and more so, I was already used to salaries at the end of the month so yes, I would do just fine.
But then disaster struck.
I got a call from my sister that my dad was down. Now, his health is not so stable and I have been sending money for upkeep and regular checkups but I never expected it to be so bad that he would require a hospital admission. I wanted to say “ha! What is it sef? No stress me abeg!” but from the sound of her voice, it was apparent that something was wrong. I had to travel down home immediately and I won’t lie, scenarios flashed through my mind and some were so scary I didn’t know when I muttered “God forbid” the Nigerian way. What if I really have to take him to the hospital? God knows I don’t have any spare cash.
We all know the Nigerian hospitals never admit a patient without a deposit for diagnosis. Let’s not even talk about the numerous tests that would be required and the amount that goes into one test. I reminded myself to breathe.
And while this was close to the end of the month, I couldn’t think of a hospital that would accept that excuse of “just treat him first, I will pay at the end of the month” and the last thing I was ready to do was beg with those doctors so they would find reasons to dish out condescending statements to me. And I couldn’t call any of my friends to ask them for cash because we all just came back from a lit wedding in the Caribbean and I was not just in the mood for any “I told you to save” pep talk and all that.
Luck smiled on me and boom! I remembered that there are unsecured loans services in Nigeria. I smiled like an idiot as I browsed through the money lender’s site and applied for a loan of 150,000 naira. My take-home salary at the end of every month was 350,000 naira, so it was something I could quite easily afford with a little bit of bending adjustments here and there.
It was a 3-hour drive from my place to my parents’ and I stopped for a while to think and breathe and also apply for the loan. I kept smiling as I turned on the ignition. I heard my phone ring and I parked again to answer the call while praying it isn’t my sister. She could literally drive you crazy with her persistence when there is an emergency. Lo and behold, it wasn’t a call but a credit alert from the unsecured loans service provider. I increased the volume of the car stereo player and I hummed along to “Able God” as I increased my speed from 60mph to 100mph. I kept imagining what I would have done if I had o access to unsecured loans as I pulled up in front of my parents’ house.
What I saw turned me to Michael Jackson, I was speechless!
My supposed sick dad was chilling in his favourite chair watching Odunlade Adekola on Africa Magic Yoruba. I managed to give a weak “Good evening sir” as I moved closer to him. Maybe he read my thoughts, he replied by telling me “I am hale and hearty as you can see me, the answer you need is with your mum.”
I walked inside in search of my mum and I made mental plans to sell my sister on OLX after giving her several spankings for almost making me have a heart attack.
I found my mum and sister in the room, talking and laughing away like they didn’t just do something crazy.
“Good evening mummy.”
“Welcome home my dear, good to see you are home.”
“Mummy, daddy is not sick. You made me drive all the way down and…”
She looked at my sister and they both smiled a devilish smile as my sister said “It worked!”
What is she talking about?
“Yes, your father is not sick and will not be sick in Jesus’ name. We knew that’s the only thing we could say to make you come down and it worked.”
Impatient and angry, “Mummy, why am I here?”
“When are you getting married?”
Words failed me so I just shook my head in disgust as I remembered the panic and fear I had gone through earlier that day.
“You are successful already, we are getting older by the day, and we should carry your children before passing on.”
“All these drama is to ask me when I am getting married? Oshey! Mama the drama queen!”
I sha carried myself into the house and well, the 150K from the unsecured loans service provider was used to spoil them for the weekend. After all, I borrowed it because of them.
And as for my sister, she is still up for sale.