Money Matters 1/3

By Drum Digital
30 October 2013

Why do we always seem to measure our happiness by the size of our bank balance?

Why do we always seem to measure our happiness by the size of our bank balance?

When I was young girl money was always a problem in our house. We weren’t starving or anything but there was never enough money left over to buy luxuries.

We were happy, though, and lived the carefree sort of life that’s virtually unheard of these days. When we dared to ask for anything extra my mom would always tighten her lips and say, “Do you think money grows on trees, Jabulile?”

I knew very well that it didn’t because according to family folklore when I was about six years old I had bullied my older brother, Themba, into climbing every tree in the vicinity to see if there was any money hidden in the branches. And to make absolutely sure he wasn’t going to run off with the loot when he found it, I had stood, hands on hips, at the bottom of the tree watching every move he made.

So at the tender age of six I found out – much to my dismay – that money didn’t grow on trees. I wonder who coined that expression anyway. I must remember to look it up.

“What about the bank?” Themba asked one day. To his credit he was always up for a bit of a dare. After a few moments I nodded my head. It was as good a suggestion as any.

Going to the bank

We trotted off to the Standard Bank on Main Road. We had to cross quite a few busy streets to get there. I didn’t even flinch when Themba took my hand firmly in his and refused to let it go. This mission was too important to start behaving childishly because normally I wouldn’t have been caught dead holding my brother’s hand. Even at six years old I had an image to uphold.

Besides it was normally me that led and Themba followed. I was amazed when we got to that part of town and I looked around in wonder. Never before had I seen so many tall buildings. “If you tell Mom I brought you here, I’ll kill you,” my usually soft-spoken brother said.

“What do you take me for?” I put my finger on my lips. There was just no way Mom could find out about this. At the same time I didn’t want to antagonise my brother. We were here for a single purpose and that was to find out how we could get the money out of the bank. Nothing was going to jeopardise this mission.

It was an imposing looking building. We stood outside, partly hidden behind one of its giant pillars, and watched the people go in and out for several minutes. Nobody seemed to come out laden with money until finally we saw a dark-haired man leave the building. He opened his wallet as he was walking and stuffed some notes in.

Then he went hurrying down the street.

I grinned at Themba.“It’s obvious isn’t it? They only give you a little cash at a time. We’ll go in together. I’ll even let you do the talking.”

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