Overcome by Debt – A Struggle to Just Get By

Overcome by Debt – A Struggle to Just Get By


I grew up watching my mother struggle through life, caught up in the rat race, working 24/7 just for the money to be gobbled up at the end of the month by debts. I remember the days my mother would hide in her bedroom and ask us to lie to the man from the furniture shops that she was not home, I remember the constant moving in the middle of the night to avoid the landlord and rent payments, how she struggled to put food on the table, how sometimes we would dine on soft porridge with no sugar. It went so bad that I at one point I promised myself that when I started working I would never owe anyone or anything.

Silly promise that turned out to be. Should have known better than to judge grown ups. Funny how when you are a child things are so simple, things are either black or white, right or wrong, but when you grow up you start noting the gray, that sometimes wrong can be right or the right can be wrong, it’s all terribly confusing.

I barely made it out of University before I was lulled into the promised land of entrepreneurship, the prospect of being my own boss, how that so appealed to my sense of freedom. Now that I look back, I guess I could say that it may well have been for the reason that I was conditioned from childhood to fear mainstream work, to fear being stuck in low paying unsatisfactory work, leaving for the next paycheck, being stuck in a rat race as they say.

Well, it happened that I got together with a friend and we started a catering company, we mainly focused on supplying lunch packs to government workers, for a while there we were making it, we financed the enterprise from our student allowances.

To cut a long story short, we ended up overextending and managed to get ourselves bankrupt. My life story begins after that. The point of it is that I ended up with the short stick of the partnership, since the business was in my names I had to shoulder the burden of paying off the accrued debts. That’s how I got introduced to the life cycle of courts, it so happened that one of our former employees summoned me for failure to pay wages. I struggled and managed to pay off her debt, but in the process I had to borrow money from friends, family, anyone who would land a hand. Now this is where the real problem began, cause I could not repay all this debts, I had no source of income and lot of people lost faith me, from there on I wasn’t credit worthy in the eyes of many people. Hence there was no one to back me up when I really needed help, I ended up shutting myself away from people. I remember I went and stayed with my Uncle at the army base. For a while there I made ends meet by doing odd jobs. I partnered up with my aunt’s boyfriend, and we went about refurbishing thatched roofs, somehow I fell in love with the manual labor, guess it gave me a chance work out my frustrations. Anyhow, ultimately the aunt’s boyfriend proved untrustworthy, I could never seem to get my share of the pay, too many times there were conflicting stories of the clients not paying, so for a few months there I worked for free, cheap labor I was. Eventually I got fed up and approached one of our many clients and asked her how she expected us to survive if she didn’t pay for our services, not surprisingly, by this time I kind of expected it, she said she had paid us the very day we completed the job. The aunt’s boyfriend had taken me to the cleaners, played me for a fool. So that was the end of our little enterprise.

I started my own thatching company, used the contacts I had accumulated, and made a dash for it, freedom was beckoning. As always starting up a company meant I had to secure loans, which meant more debt, I still had not paid off all my earlier debts. So as you can see, to pay off my debts, I ended up accruing more debt. The construction company had its share of successes, but unfortunately it was founded on bad debt, instead of sustaining itself it was made to pay off one debt after another while at the same time creating more.

Eventually I burned out, the constant hassling and bustling got to me, I couldn’t do it anymore, so I threw in the towel and got a job, ironically, with the justice department, now I was the one processing summons and advising people on how to clear their debts before they ended up in prison, while at the same time I had this huge silent debt lacking in the shadows. Keeping with to my tradition of trying to squirm out of my debts by acquiring a bigger debt to cover the smaller ones, I got a loan from one of the banks, I was now a
government official and all banks were willing to saddle me with more debt to leverage my salary for a foreseen period, hence I ended up being stuck in the rat race, working from pay slip to pay slip trying to make ends meet.

For a while there it seemed I would see the light at the end of the tunnel, I was finally managing my debts, though through my heavily leveraged salary. Thus I bought myself a car, a nice little thing, albeit it an export from Singapore. Life seemed merry, I even rekindled my romance with an old flame, you have to know during my struggles with debt I had not dated, it was not from not wanting to, but merely from lack there of, how would I sustain a girlfriend when I sometimes couldn’t feed myself.

So life was great, I had a car and a girlfriend by my side, I was on top of the world. But that illusion was quickly quashed, it started when the car overturned when I was on my way home from a long work trip, the car got damaged beyond repair, I was lucky to escape with my life, naturally, because of my financial constraints, I had not insured it, and that was all she wrote, no car, gone just like the puff of the wind.

I dusted myself up and continued with life, then the debtors started showing up, one after another. To pay up, I leveraged more of my salary, to the extent that I was barely left with enough to feed myself, again. Nothing worse than a person working in a court of law being summonsed. But luckily I managed to dodge that bullet, not for long though. Under the guise of a promotion I was transferred to the capital city, trust my luck, this meant that the cost of leaving tripled for me. Very soon I was unable to keep up with the rent payments. The landlord chucked me out soon after and proceeded to sue me for rental arrears. Being somewhat of a law officer, I asked a lawyer friend of mine to aid I defending me in the case as I figured I could win on the technicality that the landlord had not given me notice before terminating our lease agreement, as stipulated in the lease he had submitted to the court as proof I had stayed in his house. However, when push came to shove, the lawyer friend failed to appear at court and I lost the case by default to appear. Another debt to answer for.

While still fighting my previous landlord, I sought refuge at a colleagues house, she in turn a year later booted me out as I was still unable to pay rent. You see, my salary was so heavenly leveraged against loans that I could not fulfill the basic needs of my life.

It is at this time and moment as am writing this article, trying to vent out steam, as I have no one to confide in, now the time is two in the morning, am still at the office, I have lived in my office for two weeks now. That’s how desperate things have become now, about a month back I received word that my former landlord, the first one, had filed papers for civil imprisonment, luckily they had been unable to serve me with the papers, why am not sure, so that’s another bullet dodged again, how many I can keep dodging I cannot say.

So as I burn the night oil in my office, the struggle continues, am overcome by debt, struggling to get by on a day-to-day basis.

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