One by one,the ladies walk into the living room like they are home. They shake hands, they hug, they ‘high five’.They seem happy and relived. Relieved at the moment though. Relieved from stress in their work places. Relived from their homes. Relieved from motherhood. They leave everything behind. They wouldn’t want it any other way.
The living room is large enough to accommodate the fifteen or so of them. They sit on the sofas, others on the sofa’s armrest and some on the carpeted floor. It doesn’t matter where they sit, what matters is that they are all together. While some help their host prepare drinks and snacks in the kitchen, the rest make small talk in the living room. They share about their husbands, their jobs, their children, their in laws and any other tale they may have saved since the last gathering. They talk about everything and anything. They are free to open up to each other. They are friends, workmates, relatives, companions. They are family.
Every once in a month,- the second Wednesday- they converge at a members house. Its more of an invasion. Peaceful invasion. They begin streaming in at around 4:30PM. The latest one should arrive is half past five. That’s when gathering begins formally. Some bring snacks, fruits or drinks. Most bring tales, gossip and ideas. It is upon the host to prepare snacks and drinks for the guests. She uses all the help she can get. Everyone contributes something consciously or unconsciously. Its like an assembly of parts. When they come together they come alive..
They celebrate each others success and mourn losses together. They encourage those who are down and congratulate those who have taken a step up the ladder. They share advice, ideas and a plan future together. Bright future. In a way they work to achieve the future together. More so, they live the moment together.
In the gathering, some are married, divorcees, widows, and others are yet to be married. Their professions vary, housewives, business ladies, civil servants, students and some work for private firms. Their positions in their places of work are not similar. Some give orders others take orders. A close observer may notice varying ages or stages in life. Two are new grandmothers, most are mothers to teenagers , some have toddlers, others are yet add the title mother to their names. But they do not regroup according to their years. Everyone has a lesson to teach and a lesson to take home. Everyone gets, everyone gives. Their differences and specifications are left at the door. In the living room, they laugh together like teenage girls.
As the drinks and snacks are laid on the table, the loud and unorganized conversations come down. The gathering becomes civilized. A prayer formally starts the gathering. Drinks and snacks are served according to preference. Wine, tea, coffee and juice are in plenty. Those trying to get into shape opt for green tea . Religious ones stay away from wine. Skinny ones feast on everything.
As some try to gain or loose weight, the business of the day begins. They begin with a report of the groups assets and savings from their treasurer. Their treasurer is a housewife. A first time mother of a three month old. With time their accumulated monthly contributions have enabled them buy some assets. As a group they own three plots of land. Their bank balance is a decent sum. They have come a long way but they are not there yet. The report details the sum of their contributions. It also details loans -to members- and other expenditures. The ‘treasurer’ has a copy of the report for anyone who would like to take it home.
They then discuss positive use of their funds, other than on wine and snacks. They look at which investments to pull out of and new ways to engage their resources. At some point before the meeting ends they hand in their contributions. The contributions are a comfortable figure. Not so much not so little. One that everyone can raise. Put together with time their savings have taken them places. Two years ago when one of them got a scholarship to distance university, the group paid for her ticket and furnished her new apartment. Last year when bulldozers brought down a member’s home, she had a shoulder to lean on. Their slow-but-consistent contributions took care of the first three months rent. They look out for each other.
The contributions may be important but there is more to the association than the money. There is more to the group than the savings. There is sisterhood. Before they were business partners they were ‘sisters’. Being there for one another. Taking steps together. Knowing that there is someone to stand by them when they cannot stand alone. Knowing that when they pool together their ambitions, goals and efforts, they will break less sweat. Sharing a cloak on a stormy day. Despite the darkness and uncertainty ahead, they feel safer as a group. Who doesn’t?
After the day’s agenda is complete, tales continue to flow. Loud laughter and high fives. Members can leave at leisure. Some head home, others return to work or school, a small group shifts the gathering to a bar or a coffee house. That one assembly keeps them going for a month. Keeps them afloat. It gives them somewhere to belong. Sisterhood.
soundtrack: For the first time: The script