The Cheap Man and The Thief

Last Sunday Scrooge Fakeman’s car got broken into. He called me at work to tell me the bad news. As usual I had packed the baby bag with toys, a book, and extra clothing. I put in it the jacket I knit for my son, his sippy cup and his milk bottle.

My ex was using my baby as babe-magnet at his friend/girlfriend when the thief hit. He should have known better, we never used to leave a bag in the car; we have been living in this country for almost a decade. The baby bag and all its contents were gone, and my ex phoned to ask me where he can get nappies. This might seem a strange question to ask, but knowing my cheap ex I directed him to a place that sells nappies singly.. Of course he is too miserly to buy a full package. Next, the “poor” man had to go and replace things.. He bought a bottle and a sippy cup and when he dropped my boy off he gave me  R100 to replace everything else !

Yesterday he came to fetch our son and asked me to pay him R 50 for cat food. He is giving my cat shelter but not board, I guess. He added that babysitting our son last week has cost him so much money (the theft?) and he has all these expenses.. He figures that I can pay up for his stupidity, and next he will want me to support his life of leisure. He hasn’t paid me up yet for the blood tests he did in his last check up. I wonder what he will say when I bring the subject up next.. But come on, if he can remember to charge me for cat food, I have to charge him for the checkups he runs on my medical account.

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Surviving the First Day

I am ready to drop off with exhaustion, but I feel like I have to write a few word. Today was tough, but baby and I survived. In my panic to get things done before I become officially homeless and transportless, I begged Mr. Negativity to take me and baby to the clinic as he was due for an immunization. The timing was perhaps not so good, but I knew I will be overwhelmed with many new things in my new place of residence, and I did not want baby’s immunization to slip through the cracks. Also I do not see myself calling Mr. Negativity for such things once I am done with him. He likes to think of himself as a benovelent benefactor, but I know better. I would rather call a cab and pay the exorbitant fare than put up with his sighs and complaints about “effort and expense”. Right or wrong, I decided to go ahead and give my baby the injection, and we both lived with the consequences.

Today was really a bad day. The child had a slight temperature and an obviously sore leg. He whined a lot and did not want to eat. His father was so anxious to get rid of us he actually helped drop off my boxes at the new place. He made THREE trips, which is phenomenal. Unfortunately in the confusion of the last trip I forgot a few bags in the garage, one containing baby food and formula. I only realised that much later when he had left.

On that final trip we had an argument as Mr. Negativity implied that the flat was now his and I should hand over the keys. I argued that I am leaving my computer and some household items he will carry on using and will only give him the keys when I take posession of my things. Well, that earned me again a storm of his temper and added to the agitation of my poor child strapped in the back of the car. On the one hand I feel like giving him the retort he deserves and on the other I know I need to keep quiet until this is over. I am buying myself out with silence.

Divorce is final he says and we are no longer married. I point out to him that as far as I am concerned nothing has been finalized yet. The consent papers are awaiting his signature and my bank account is hemorrhaging and will soon be no more. I haven’t seen a cent yet from the promised “generous” maintenance. I suppose when the guy married me he never counted on me becoming old enough to answer back. So now that it’s happening he cannot control his rage. This is the mood he left us in at our new home.

A bad day continued getting worse, when baby started acting up. Either the bad energy of dad or the injection’s side effects caused continous crying fits. Meanwhile I was trying to find and organize things in our new room. It was then that I realised that his bottle and formula were missing, but when I called Mr. Negativity he said: “No way I am going to deliver it, let your friend come and get it”, then hung up on me. I managed to keep the little one sustained with some breast milk, but he remained hungry and unhappy, and I was tied down and couldn’t leave to get the stuff. I swallowed my pride and tried phoning again and this time the mood was slightly better: “Okay I will bring the things on my way to town”.  He was going to town to sign the consent papers for our divorce, he said.

The trials of the day left Mr. Negativity unscathed. He showed up in a fresh, nicely ironed shirt, asked me to phone the lawyer’s office to make sure they will still be there by the time he gets to town, and carried baby and talked to him (something he rarely did in the past few weeks, at least not in front of me). He also brought me along the stroller which I had forgotten in the confusion as well.

Experience has taught me that Mr. Negativity becomes nice only when he has something to gain, or has much to lose. I think after the argument we had in the car he figured it was too much of an effort and expense to live without the modem, the microwave and my few pots and pans, so he thought he will play softball for a while. He did not even ask me when I was going to get my cat. God help me until this whole thing is over.

In the papers I am filing for my divorce there is a letter he wrote to me when I tried to leave him for the first time. It was full of love, regret and promises. I keep it to remind me how false people can be when they have something at stake.

Hit Me Where it Hurts

I think my brother-in-law is an idiot. But then again there are so many of his kind in my old country.

Recently, I lamented in this post the plight of women in my country of origin. The piece was brought about by what I think of as my sister’s digression into blind submission to the dictates of society. This submission is well-disguised as Islamic morals, values, and mostly dress code (wearing the headscarf or Hijab).

Today my good sister’s husband came up with another gem from my erstwhile people who have been dozing for the last thousand years. He splashed a “funny” post all over Facebook’s “Funwall” and forwarded it to his numerous friends – most of whom are WOMEN if I may add.

I am translating it from the original Arabic:

Behind every great man .. a woman

Behind every prisoner.. a woman

Behind every problem.. a woman

Behind every war.. a woman

Behind every traffic accident.. a woman

Behind every fight between neighbours … a woman

Behind the demographic imbalance… a woman

Behind the corruption of young men and their depravity.. a woman

Behind every mother and father who were thrown into an old age home… a woman

I want to know who was the stupid ox who called them the fairer sex.

End of gem.

Given my current situation, I am not very good friends with the male fraternity at the moment. But this particular post would enrage me even on a good day, and I do not think it is funny at all. It simply illustrates the male (and especially the Middle Eastern male’s) attitude of passing the responsibility of EVERYTHING onto a woman’s shoulders. Men get away with this because we women have broad shoulders, and can carry everything the guys throw at us: The groceries, the kids, and a good portion of the home-loan to boot. We do it with love, then we smile and ask for more of the load.

Yesterday I drew up a list of items I bought in the last two years and gave it to Mr. Negativity. I did that because in the settlement he stated that I will be getting X thousand Rand’s worth of household effects. I annotated the items I would like to have and added them up to come up with the amount HE said I would get. His response: “I don’t want to go into nit-picking”. Of course, it is nit picking, because I am the one who is asking for stuff. In contrast it is not nit-picking when he demands that I throw petrol in the car on the rare occasions I dare to use it, or when he makes me pay for his son’s passport applications.

His latest antic: I am not allowed to use the car for moving my few belongings to my friend’s house down the road, no more than two kilometers away. And of course it is too much “effort and expense” for him to drive me there. Yet, he wants me “out of his hair” sooner rather than later. Perhaps I should do a sit-in protest on top of my boxes, and wait to see who will break first. Believe me, I want out as well, but I have put up with this crap for nine years, what is a few days more?

Trust a Man

Today’s quote from Husband (hereafter referred to as Mr. Negativity-he won’t be Husband for long) : “You will never appreciate all the things I have done for you through nine years of marriage”. The quote came on the heels of an accusation to me that I have stopped doing anything around the house. Yes, it is true, I have stopped because there is no point. There is no pleasing the bugger whatever I do, so I just took a step back and started slacking off COMPLETELY. I am using him for all he is worth, for now. Because I know: a) Whatever he is doing right now serves to massage his guilt and promote his self image as the martyr and the victim of the piece. b) Heck, I will be having a real hard life next, and will not get much out of him after these next few days, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. No, I am not going out with my girlfriends every night and leaving him with a crying baby. I am not maxing out his credit card. I am only slacking off in the housework department (where I was a slacker to start with), and when he cooks dinner I eat the extra portion he puts aside. I still take care of baby whenever I am home from work, but he still feels that he is so nice to help me babysit our son. Oh, please give me a break. Like this is stopping him from his life’s work ! At least looking after the little child is a productive and rewarding activity. Better than trying in vain to reverse the passage of years at the gym. Of course this is not the way he sees it. As far as he is concerned he is paying me GENEROUS child support of x thousand Rand (don’t hold your breath, it is honestly peanuts) so that he doesn’t have to do babysitting. What the cheapskate forgets is that the generous amount includes R600 contribution to my medical aid, which he still benefits from. After deducting it, there is just enough to cover the rent of a furnished room in a friend’s house. We still need to live and pay for nannies if I want to continue to work. I rest my case.So, what has he done for me in nine years of marriage? The one good thing is my little one, and if he didn’t think that having a child was something that will magically fix his life, he wouldn’t have allowed me to have him. Then there is ruining my self-esteem, isolating me from my friends, giving me complexes about my healthy appetite, begrudging me every treat, and trying very hard to change me. His excuse: he wanted me to be someone compatible with him. Yes, and I am the fool who fell for this crap for six long years. When I had enough he fooled me again by telling me that HE has changed. In my native tongue there is a saying : trust a man, trust your water to a sieve.

Getting Ready for Battle

We are going to do battle soon, over trivial things. I feel the eminent confrontation over what is mine and what is his. I can almost walk away from everything except for my books and my craft tools. The only thing that stops me is knowing deep down that I am entitled to some things.

There is precious little in this flat that belongs to me alone anyway. These are few things that I bought for me, with my own money, when I first came to Cape Town two years ago. Husband is the type that buys the cheapest kettle, and toaster. While I give myself a little treat with a cordless kettle, and a sandwich maker. I am partial to the things I bought, because I chose them with care and paid the correct prices. Strangely enough it is not the appliances that I hang on to, it is more the little gadgets and tools.

Today the argument was as follows: If I do not pay the telkom bill then he will deduct it from my -yet to be seen- maintenance, or maybe from the child’s maintenance. Earlier, when I asked him if he can take us shopping for diapers and baby stuff he answered that he doesn’t need to do that, because he will pay for maintenance, and why should he pay twice. I can sense that we are going to descend to pennies and cents shortly, but what the heck, there is no point being nice anymore.

Bear in mind that I have offered to keep him on my medical aid in return for a contribution and even thought of leaving the modem for the telephone line. He even alluded to the fact that he wants one more ticket at staff prices from my airline employer. I did not say : Hell no, you do not deserve it. I just try to be reasonable, for the sake of momentary peace. In the end, he is helping me look after HIS son while I go to work. In his book he is being nice and doesn’t have to do it.

I look at my poor baby and feel sorry for him. I have chosen a complete jerk to be his father. I hope he will not be afflicted with the same emotional and psychological shortcomings of his sire. Yes, I know I am not perfect, but heavens I consider having my baby a privilege not a burden. Having the baby made me discover that I had love and dedication in me, while it exposed his self-centered tendencies. Of course these suffered with the advent of a new life. When I am confronted with this attitude it is difficult to curb my revulsion. If a person cannot melt with love towards their own child, then they are incapable of feeling this emotion towards anyone. It is rather sad.