of daughters and in laws

The MAN lurched forward. His gait was unsteady. His limbs and his head didn’t co-ordinate the way they used to. His hands trembled. His daughter stood just behind him. He knew that she would try to support him if he lost his balance.

He felt humiliated. She made food for him. She ironed his clothes. She cleaned up the toilet after him. She washed his soiled clothes. She did the dishes. That was fine by him. He felt that she didn’t do as good a job as he liked but that was okay. What he didn’t find okay was that she was independent. She didn’t listen to him. She smoked. She sang loudly. She laughed with the men. What upset him most was that she showed no respect to her mother in law. His idea of respect was  different from his daughters. His daughter had told him in so many words that if her mother in law grew old and weak, she would take care of her as she was taking care of him. If her mother in law grew sick, she would take care of her as she was taking care of him now.

But that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted his daughter to accept humiliation at the hands of her mother in law and that she should allow her mother in law to yell at her and insult her. She should bear stoically any insults her mother in law hurled at her or her parents. She should clean her mother in laws toilet and home. As a daughter in law she should have been much more adjusting. She should welcome suffering as proof of her womanliness.

The MAN found that his daughter was behaving like a man should. It didn’t matter to him that there was in reality no man to meet any of the roles that he didn’t want his daughter to fulfill. There was no man to drive him around or buy groceries. There was no man to raise the children. There was no man who earned for the family. There was no man. There were only wimps, cowards and idlers. The men lounged on armchairs with video games and the television. The men complained when the food wasn’t up to their expectations. They wanted their towels washed and dried, they wanted meat in their meals and the houses spic and span when their friends came over – but they weren’t willing to raise a finger to ensure any of this was done.

All this went past the MAN. He felt that his daughter wasn’t female enough. This was his constant source of disappointment.

So he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wrote a letter to his daughter’s mother in law. The letter went as below

“Dear Madam, greetings to you in our beloved Jesus Christ! I write this letter to thank you and to apologize. Madam, I hope you read this letter of mine with some patience and courage.

I say courage because it is your strength as a Christian woman. You have been blessed with a son. Indeed I could have said that I was blessed with a daughter if she had been raised with the same faith that you have raised your son – in the true spirit of our lord and mother Mary. Your son has been blessed too – to have a mother such as you.

I thank you for your patience in dealing with my wayward daughter. She has brought no joy to your family. She has not been the humble keeper of the family’s dignity and virtues. She has not been able to absorb the Christian values that you – her mother in law has demonstrated in action and in spirit. She has been a disappointment. Yet you have been patient. She has continued to stay in your house, and this, I know, my dear madam, is only through your patient tolerance. I also apologise to you for having been a failure in raising my daughter to know the true happiness that comes to a woman when she serves, when she leaves her family and takes up the family of her husband as her own. My daughter has resisted all my loving and patient efforts to correct her and make her understand the beauty of being a woman. I request, no, I insist, that you correct her and guide her. Teach my wayward daughter to discipline her mind and body. Help her, madam to bring joy to your family instead of disappointment and sadness.

This is my humble request to you in the Lord Jesus Christ.””


Two months later, the daughter was dead. “Death by hanging’ said the coroner. Sadly the MAN and his daughter’s mother in law faced each other. “She was never willing to learn.’ said the mother in law strictly. “ It was all my fault for not bringing her up properly’ said the MAN. Secretly however, he wondered how he would manage henceforth. Maybe he would get a maid. He hoped his pension would cover the expenses. The mother in law meanwhile was consulting her son. “Let us look for a wife for you who has a better upbringing.” The son sorrowfully nodded his head. This time he would let his mother decide. She really seemed to know best. Even his father in law thought so.



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