She’s every mother’s nightmare: the woman who turns your son into a monster. Yes, she’s real, not the stuff of an aggrieved mother-in-law’s imagination. I’ve never seen her, but now I know her all too well.
I first learned the essence of her on the day when the coconut tree fell. First, there was the noise of proximate thunder, then screams, shouts and a flurry of activity as we tried to process the damage that had been inflicted on our newly installed fence. The sighs of relief that the fence and not the house had been destroyed were quickly overshadowed by the arrival of the police and the screaming revelation that she had been seen striking her child in the face. In the face. What kind of a mother hits her child in the face? The agony in her mother-in-law’s voice was almost too heart-rending to bear.
Today, I heard screams and roaring of a different sort. Curses. Threats. Things that can never be taken back being hurled with ferocity in the middle of the street. I heard that agony in the mother-in-law’s voice again and, against my better judgment, I looked. Her son had turned into a monster.
In the eye of her hurricane, the nightmare sat down and sobbed. For a moment, she was no nightmare, but vulnerable and all too human.
‘It’s always “Mother, mother, mother,”‘ she cried with the voice of a small hurt child.
‘It’s never “wife.”‘
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;