DUTY

Japanese tubShe lathered and scrubbed him before he climbed into the hot tub.  As he lay back, letting the tensions of the week steam out, she set out for him a fluffy towel and clean kimono. She hung his western suit in the closet.  She prepared his evening meal silently, but her mind rehearsed what she would have to say:

My dear husband, you speak English, you love baseball and are addicted to golf, but you put on the old ways at home.  You think me as traditional and predictable as a Kabuki role.  You praise me for being dutiful.

I have indeed been a dutiful wife to you, more than you know.  I bore you two sons with whom you were content until I gave birth to Meiko and thereby brought untold joy into your life—and mine.

We two women were dutiful.  She brought you pride when she excelled in school.  Ambitious for her to extend your prestige, you sent her to college in the USA.  I said nothing, though my heart tore.  I said nothing when she wrote and phoned and pleaded to come home.  You insisted and she obeyed.

Then no more pleading.  Instead, she became a Christian in a strange sect.  Then she wanted to marry—not a rich Yankee, but a nearly destitute South American exchange student. Furthermore, she would do it in some Christian temple she said we would not be allowed to enter. She said she was willing to live in poverty if, as you threatened, her allowance ceased.  You demanded that she come home, but she did not.  Embarrassed that she would flout your authority, you told people she was only living with him until she finished her degree. You told me she was dead to you until she left him and came home to marry a man with proper lineage.

Because I said nothing, you could have it both ways: To preserve your pride, you disowned Meiko.  Yet I am sure you know that I have not forsaken her.  You have pointedly never inquired about the use of many minutes on my phone.  You met the sudden increase in household expenses without comment. You never asked from where I got the little blue book I have been reading.

I am a dutiful wife—but now I must say something: So sorry, dear husband, that nothing in the world will keep me from flying out to visit Meiko next month when she delivers our grand-daughter.

 

 

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