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Monday, July 28, 2008

Mother-in-law or monster-in-law?

The following true story illustrates just how damaging mothers in law can be when for some reason they do not like their son’s wives or girlfriends.

Ndungu and Shiro had started their affair when Ndungu was still at the Nairobi University. It did not matter that Shiro came from a very poor family because Ndungu too had been brought up in a lot of hardships. The central character in his life was his mother who had done all sorts of things to keep him in school. She dug people’s shambas and even did what was considered to be men’s jobs to earn cash to pay for his fees. It was even rumoured that in one desperate moment she had sold her own body to get some urgently required cash for her beloved only son to do an important exam whose deadline was dangerously close.

Her efforts bore fruit when Ndungu graduated from the University with a degree in a highly sort after professional field and the money started pouring in almost immediately he left campus.

When Mama Ndungu first met Shiro she had not even been aware of the fact that there was a woman “out to eat his money,” as she put it. She of course did not want to hear that Shiro had played her part in supporting Ndungu through university (she had even given him money many times).

Shiro decided that there was nothing she could do about the mother of the man she loved who openly hated her so much that they never even greeted each other whenever they would meet. What she did not know was that the crafty old woman had launched a war which she knew she would easily win.

If you are reading this, just remember this one simple fact; you cannot compete with your guy’s mother. You met the guy when he had grown all his teeth and the woman you are up against changed his nappies. So who do you think knows him better?

One day Ndungu unexpectedly brought a house help from upcountry and Shiro was delighted because she really did need some help in the house with her two small daughters. Little did she know that the first part of an evil plan by her mother in law was in place.

Shiro in fact liked the house-help. She was polite and obedient and did not do anything to raise her suspicion. But Shiro made one other deadly error. Whenever her husband came home late from his evening drink, she would not get out of bed to serve him and would instead allow the house help to warm the food and serve him. This information of course trickled back to Ndungu’s mother through her able spy, the humble house help.

So one day the husband came home and shortly after the house help warmed and served him the food, she started crying. Women’s tears usually alarm men and Ndungu panicked, just as his mother knew he would. He carefully enquired from her in their mother tongue what the problem was. The house help told him that mama watoto (Shiro) had poisoned the food and she had been forced to serve it and yet she knew it contained poison that would kill him.

Ndungu could not believe his ears but fetched his wife from bed. She was angry at being woken up and still groggy from sleep. Ndungu told her what he had been told and then tried to force her to eat the food he had been served with.

What happened next has been debated on for years. Most people say that there was some witchcraft used to confuse Shiro because she refused to eat the food to prove that there was no poison in it. Later Shiro told her friends that she was not sure exactly why she refused but she knows she was very angry, angrier than she had ever been in her life, that her husband would believe what he had been told by the maid and suspect her. And after everything they had been through together. It was also known that Shiro had a very nasty temper. So that is probably what caused her to make the crucial mistake of refusing to eat the food. This to the husband was ample evidence that the food was indeed poisoned.

It is further rumoured that the tasty food Chicken and rice was eaten by the house help that very night because the next day when elders wanted the food to take for testing to verify whether it had poison or not it had vanished. It was not in the dustbin which the stammering maid claimed she threw it in. And the only person who had been left in the house was the houshelp because Ndungu got Shiro into the car with her night dress there and then and all her belongings thrown into the car boot and he then drove her all the way to her parents home in Muranga. They started the journey from Nairobi at about 2 am in the morning.

To cut a long sad story short. That was the end of the marriage between Ndungu and Shiro. Shortly after they separated Ndungu’s mother moved into the house and this is where she lives to date apart from an occasional trip upcountry that she makes. Ndungu has since remarried an old Mzungu woman and has kicjed out his daughters who now live a hard life they never knew.

I leave you to digest this real life experience until tomorrow when we will discuss this topic of mothers-in-law and how they mess up relationships and marriages tomorrow.

Horrors of what husbands do with their wives

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