25 April, 2019
Column: Features and Opinions
The woman waited impatiently on the short queue anticipating her turn at the retail shop ATM. Although she was next on the line, but the look on her face suggested the distance between her and the ATM was miles away. You can tell from the way the woman moves her legs and swayed her body from one side to the other in suppressed discomfort that when you are in a hurry and hungry, a short queue seems very long and the person in front seems very slow.
A five-year old girl gently tugged the hem of the woman’s skirt playfully; her bright eyes were betrayed by her weak body which seemed smaller and weaker than most girls of her age. Like her mother the girl was as expectant as her mother from the money magic machine on the wall.
The woman’s anticipation grew tenser by her little daughter’s tugging of her skirt understanding it to be the girl’s unspoken demand for something the mother already knew what it was. The money from the FNB e-wallet was the answer to both the girl’s demand and the grocery plastic bag that hung loosely on the woman’s arm.
At last it was her turn, but that didn’t bring much relief as despair mixed with beads of sweat on her face betraying a déjà vu feeling of this is happened before. “Eish, did he send the money this time?” she muttered under her breath as she walked towards the ATM. She punched the secret numbers on the keypad. It failed. She punched again with painful bewilderment. “No, he can’t do this to me again,” she lamented. Desperation, frustration and anger ran all over in quick succession, yet with the multitasking skills of a woman, she hid her pains and forced a smile to ease the tension off her daughter who was keenly looking at her mother’s hands to pull out the money from the ATM. Tears welled up her eyes as she pored over the numbers on the sheet of paper in hands for the third time. She punched it on the keypad. The third receipt confirmed again the numbers were wrong.
The queue behind was getting longer faster than when she had been on it. Shame and disappointment swell her legs. “Let’s go from here.” She whispered to her daughter. Her walk to the end of the queue took longer than the time it took her to get her turn at the ATM. Standing at the end of the queue many thoughts assailed her tired mind. ‘Should I wait for another turn on the queue and try again?’ ‘Or should I just go home? What do I tell her? That her dad failed to keep his promise again? Where will dinner come from tonight? The woman was jolted back to the moment by the little girl’s tiny voice- ‘Mama, where is the money?’
‘Come, let’s go away from here!’ It’s all the troubled woman could say to the confused child.
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