A letter from Mother In-law

I need to learn how to do this. This would be a great way to keep school pictures!! DIY Envelope Book: Instructions (PDF)

—To my daughter in-law, Zaynab, whose flowers has refused to glow.


If only I had known that my son would marry a woman from another tribe, I wouldn’t have allowed him step his foot out of the village just to acquire western education. And for this reason I curse the day I let him go, the day he met you, got you pregnant and made you his wife. Hatred was the only thing left in me when Dehinde, the apple in my eyes, had insisted that it was only you befitting in his eyes to marry; what more can a mother do? Watch her son marry the woman he claims to love. It’s almost ten years now, and ‘m still waiting for my grandchild, waiting for that legitimate grandchild of mine, a warrior, lion, and prince of my life. Whenever I see Seye, the woman I had always wanted Dehinde to marry many years ago, chasing each of her five little handsome boys to her husband farm, “this would have been Dehindes five sons” I would say to myself wishing time could go back and I could fix things.

You may be wondering why I am ranting; it’s just to remind you that you have never been a part of this family. Dehindes older cousin has five sons, and two daughters; Dehindes younger sister has three kids, a set of male twins and a girl. What do you have? Six girls! Six weaklings that can never be equal to one male child. What a waste of my son’s time! My Everyone in the family is blessed with male children, but in your own case, you are barren! And a barren woman has no place in my son’s home. When I heard you had given birth again for the sixth time, deep down I hoped you had bore a son, and it still wasn’t a surprise that a female child had the nerves to struggle through that hole of yours, the one you had accused me of causing to bleed during my last visit when you had your fifth child, a useless baby daughter. Remember the last time you came to the village, having told you to look down in the bowl of water; you were shocked to see the reflection of your children you had kept in your neighbour’s house at the city. Wherever you hide under the sky, I would always find you; whatever you say at my back would always bounce back inside my ears, so you should be aware already that I know you and your friends called me a witch. Your Mother in law is a witch! The woman that allowed her educated son to marry an outsider, the daughter of a cattle rearer…the house your husband grew up in is worth your father’s savings in a life time. Many a time when you came visiting, you pounded yam at the early hour of the mornings, yet you complained and cried to your friends after I had told you to just pound some pieces of yam ten days after the delivery of your fifth child. Isn’t ten days enough for you to recover? Rather you let yourself bleed like a menstruating child, running helter skater like a fowl looking for a place to hide her chickens. Anyway, I have told you to come to the village and take something I have always reserved for you; something that would make you have a male child other than letting my son waste his precious seed on your flower that would never yield anything good.

From your mother in-law; Abike

Mother of a thousand sons yet to come

© Adichie Babz

11 Comments Add yours

  1. proudlyfeminist says:

    Sad that some African tribes still consider daughters to be weaklings and nobodies. This piece sheds a lot of light on whatever happens in African homes that stubbornly refuse to embrace change. Including issues of tribe.
    It is indeed a rant from a very bitter, backward mom in law.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. adichiebabz says:

      You are right…its just disheartening that even in this 21st century, some odd traditional beliefs are still limiting some individuals thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The six daughters came as a well managed and so saddening surprise for me at the end of the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Adetutu says:

    Reminds me of the book ‘Second Class Citizen’ by Buchi Amecheta. The girl’s birth wasn’t celebrated because the whole community saw her as a disappointment because they were all expecting a baby boy. When they finally had a boy, he was named ‘boy’ to show how significant he was to them. He was allowed to go to school, but she wasn’t because she was told that her job was to take care of the house and cook all day. She broke that chain and fought for what she believed in. It is sad how some people even in this century still believe that having a girl-child is a great disadvantage as they are useless and cannot continue the lineage of the family. They believe girl-children are commodities that are given to older men as wives before they are even fully grown. They are sacrificed on the altar of affluence even for their parents’ greed. People underestimate the possibilities of having a female president, governor. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has proved the belief that girl-children are not good for anything else but domestic work and giving birth, wrong. It is so sad that if a woman gives birth to a female, she is considered barren. Malala Yousafzai also fought for girl-child education and was shot in the face for fighting for what she so much believed in. I am glad that women are starting to realize that they are capable of so much more and are willing to stand up for what they believe in. Many women are really working on educating girls who do not know what they are capable of and are brainwashed into believing that they are really good for nothing. There is this saying that ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’ I would add mine and say ‘a woman can do much better’, this is not to ridicule the ability of men, but to make eminent the usefulness of women… Great heights can be achieved only through hard work and determination… Girl-children are as important as the male-children

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adichiebabz says:

      Yahhh! you rock…you always have the perfect words to agitate women in becoming stronger…Educate a girl, and one has educated a nation. Thanks for commenting dear 🙂


  4. Canduh says:

    Well written piece, it is so sad though that even with so much education, people still think that female children are worthless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adichiebabz says:

      Thanks :)…for some people education means nothing when compared to their customs and traditions…dats why the women need to voice out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Gracia says:

    This is so annoying and true.Most mother in-laws behave as though having a male child is better than female children put together. That is wrong.God is the giver of children. Be it girl or boy, they are equal in God’s eyes so that means they should also be equal in our eyes as well.Great story dear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oluwanifemi says:

      True…thanks dear….


Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s