Review: The Pay Packet by Ifeoma Okoye

13 Apr

This short story by Ifeoma Okoye tells the story of Iba, who has been married for six months to Bertrand. Everybody refers to him as Gentleman B.

After her marriage, Iba is no longer eager to receive her salary as a teacher at the City Primary School. The reason is somehow depicted by the conversation of her 8 year old pupils who are fighting about some money that belongs to a girl.

“Boys always fight for things that are not theirs”

“Yes, they are all greedy things”

Perhaps the theme of this short story is the ownership of the working woman’s salary in a marriage. Iba’s colleagues have all different stories of their own.

Phoebe’s role is to feed the family while her husband pays the rent and the school fees. Ukachi, whose husband is the headmaster, just signs the voucher and never even touches her own salary!

Uzo explains that that her own salary is sent to her own father as bride price. Iba thinks that her own father wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

The only exception is Ezuma, whose salary belongs to her while her husband even buys clothes and jewellery for her and gives housekeeping money.

Perhaps the turning point of the story is her decision not to hand over her salary to her husband. She decides to go on a shopping spree and spends a third on foodstuffs, a third on herself and the remainder on baby things. (She is expecting a baby)

The confrontation that ensues with Bertrand puts everything to light. Her dad, a retired railway worker who receives a good pension, had asked Bertrand to send him her salary for three years as her bride price. She realises that although he doesn’t deserve it, she decides to keep the fact that he abuses her secret from his friend.

“If you’re right, it will explain, but not excuse your brutality to me for which you may have to pay another bride price this time, to me- to restore the status quo ante bellum”

The story ends with a peck on the cheek –a tacit agreement between them.

I found this a very good short story. It highlights the difficulty of modern ways of life coupled with traditions. In this case, working women and their salaries and the independence that comes with it. On the other hand, payment of bride price and the traditional perception of male predominance in decision making within a marriage.

One Response to “Review: The Pay Packet by Ifeoma Okoye”

  1. ปั้มไลค์ 18/07/2020 at 3:57 pm #

    Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

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