I am a 35-year-old who has been in employment for 12 years. I have a relatively cushy job but have nothing to my name. While my peers are married with children and have bought homes and invested in real estate, I am only beginning to contemplate boosting my savings. And I blame my parents and myself too, for letting them do this to me.
Let me explain. I am the second child in a family of four. My elder brother lives abroad. He has work and family there, and for some reason, we do not hear much from him. No calls or emails except for the occasional WhatsApp message. My younger sister is in college. That means I am the only one with some economic power and within my parents’ reach.
My parents are retired teachers. They have a nice little house in Bomet. When they finished the home construction, they were still working. Then, I had just got my first job. Oh! I am a banker. That means I don’t really earn much, but I can easily access loans, and that is a fact my parents recognise.
Anyway, as soon as the house was done, they wanted me to pay for the wiring and a borehole set up. My mother explained that since they had spent their live’s savings on my university education, it was only right that I help them out. And so I gave them most of my first six months’ salary.
ONE LOAN AFTER THE OTHER
I thought that then I could now begin my life of independence. And I was excited. But again, my parents called me back home and explained that my sister needed school fees. Considering she didn’t excel in high school, she had to be enrolled in the university’s parallel programme.
When I looked at the first semester’s tuition fee, I almost vomited from anxiety. It was four times my gross salary. I didn’t know how I could sustain four years of the payments. And that began my relationship with loans.
I am now repaying several loans. And when I try explaining to my friends why I can’t join their chama because I can’t possibly make monthly contributions, I falter because I realise that my loans have really done nothing for my life. I have no shamba, no assets and no savings to my name. I pay my sister’s fee and give her pocket money, I give my parents a monthly allowance, I bought five cows when my father decided he wanted to be a dairy farmer and I even footed my mother’s trip to Egypt for a religious pilgrimage with her church group.
I am tired of pandering to my parents’ whims. I am the person they call for everything. Nowadays, I don’t even want to go upcountry because I know that I will have to part with lots of money. When I see my father’s name on my phone’s calling pad, I palpitate. I don’t want to answer his calls. I envy my brother, building his life abroad, free from all the burdens here.
Not that I don’t realise that my parents did a lot for me. But I wish they could let me focus on myself. I wish they stopped using me as their retirement policy. I want children someday; I need to be more economically empowered, I wanted to do my Master’s degree, but all these seem impossible. Didn’t they know that they were going to retire? Was I their retirement plan all along? Will they curse me if I ‘disappear’ the way my brother did?