Some people believe in-laws exist because everyone deserves a little slice of hell. And true to form, issues to do with in-laws are among the top three most common problems spouses grapple with. Most mothers-in-law top the list of ‘in-laws from hell’ - or so it seems. However, there are other relatives who beat mothers-in-law hands down, in as far as turning spouses’ lives into a living hell is concerned.
Nonetheless, this is not to say that there are no good and charming in-laws out there, but that is a story for a different day. There is a bunch of horrible in-laws who can easily pass as confirmation that indeed ‘hell on earth’ is not just an urban legend of sorts, but a reality. Take, for instance, the case of a woman surnamed Ndinda. By any standard, Ndinda is a devastatingly beautiful and irresistible woman.
That, despite a conspicuous wedding band on her finger, she still gets hit on by men is not such a big deal; what, however, shocks and irks her is the fact that a relative to her husband, whose amorous nature is legendary, has never stopped making passes at her. “There is this Casanova cousin to my hubby who always hits on me, albeit subtly. Some of the compliments he gives me, especially in the absence of other relatives, border on seduction. He has these honeyed words he playfully uses. I take them as compliments, but deep down I can tell he is flirting. I mean, which cousin compliments his brother’s wife’s shapely backside?” wonders Ndinda, suppressing a giggle.
She says the amorous cousin is notorious for naughty flirtation, and she has never reported him to her husband for fear of scandalising him or the tables turning against her. “The guy really tries to make passes at me, but I have never been courageous enough to tell my hubby. I treat it as fun, but I know he has serious intentions of getting me between the sheets, it’s just that I have proved to be a hard nut to crack,” she chuckles.
Luckily for Ndinda, the worst - engaging in the ‘act of rod’ - has not happened. Elsewhere, tales have been told of in-laws who bed, and even impregnate each other. In most cases, such scandals remain a top-secret between the two offending in-laws, without their spouses being any wiser. Without belabouring the point, many women Crazy Monday spoke to attested to being hit on by their husbands’ randy relatives, including fathers-in-law! Would you believe that? This is not to say that female in-laws are ‘angels’! Some are even worse, that is, if what befell one David Oloo*, a valuer with a city real estate firm, is anything to go by. His wife’s relatives have done nasty things to him.
Naughty in-law antics
Hear him: “I have lost count of the number of times my wife’s female relatives have ‘seduced’ me.” He says his wife’s relatives are always at his house; if it is not a cousin job-hunting, it is a college-going niece or nephew and so on and so forth. He tells us about one of his wife’s devastatingly ‘hot’ nieces.
“In my family, I happen to be doing relatively well, compared to others. Thus, I host most of my wife’s relatives who come to college or job-hunt in Nairobi from our rural homes. There is this one sexy and notorious niece of hers who dresses provocatively, especially in the absence of my wife. Like one on a mission to ensnare me, she will dress skimpily while cleaning the floor.
“She at times puts on a low-cut top, exposing acres of her award-winning cleavage, leaving nothing to the imagination when serving me,” explains Oloo, adding that nowadays the ever-exposed and perky ‘mammary glands’ and other naughty antics have become such a small matter that he sees no reason to report to his wife, seeing as he would come off as petty.
Familiarity breeds contempt
He proceeds to regale these writers with many other incidents involving his visiting in-laws, deliberately avoiding going into the details of whether their seductive mischief has ever led him into temptation, if you know what we mean. Clever chap, this Oloo*. But knowing exactly who men are, who knows the kind of hanky-panky Oloo* has been up to? Worse cases involving randy and immoral in-laws, like those who rape relatives, have also been reported in the media; we need not to go there.
Lazy, needy and mannerless
Libido charged in-laws aside. Folks, familiarity breeds contempt. There are those who get so used to you that they have no respect for your house. They walk in and out like it were a public loo. It is even worse if you live in the same locality and in close proximity. Njeri, for instance, has in-laws who treat her house as if it were a holiday camp.
“Most of my husband’s people come to bum at my place. If you caught them in their element, you would be forgiven for confusing them for holidaymakers! They never assist with household chores. To them, my bedroom is as good as a common room. They have no boundaries. Many a time, visiting relatives - both male and female - have entered my bedroom and stumbled on me dressing or in scantily clad, only to pretend to be apologetic for intruding on my privacy,” agonises Njeri, adding: “They treat my house as theirs. When someone wants to rest, they, without a care in the world, go and spread themselves on my matrimonial bed. No respect at all. At times I wonder. They are so used to it that I find it difficult to tell them off because they seem not to find it odd at all.”
Some in-laws come to your place and demand a special diet and exotic meals you cannot cook or even afford at that tight time of the month. Other primitives ones use the kitchen sink to brush their teeth. And while at it, spit out saliva and blobs of thick sputum, forgetting to clear the mess.
Tales have been told of those who hoard your television’s remote control and want you to watch their favourite soap operas, all day and all night. Or even step on your fluffy, expensive carpet with muddy shoes, of course with no apologies. There is a special group who can’t resist the urge to plan things for you; like when you should travel to the village, marry a second or even third wife, buy a house or car or which school to take your children to, leaving you wishing there was a ‘cool’ way to tell them to go to hell or go hang!
For instance, take the case of one Liz Njeri*, a financial analyst, married to a top auditor. “I got married assuming that only less educated in-laws create uncalled for ‘beef’. Shock on me, my husband’s relatively well- educated sisters are petty and are in the habit of causing unnecessary drama. Visits to my husband’s place just drain me. His two younger sisters are always gossiping about me.
“They feel I don’t deserve their brother. When they are not criticising my cooking, they are yapping about my poor parenting skills. That I pamper my kids never sits well with them. They want my kids to be taken to the village regularly to be taught how to dig and speak mother-tongue,” she says.
Annoying entitlement tendencies
She adds they never tire of reminding her that she is from a humble background, and only after their elder brother’s money. She narrates how a petty quarrel with her husband’s sister during a weekend visit once degenerated into a nasty shouting match that saw her car tyre punctured in rage, leaving her stranded for hours.
The catalogue of Njeri’s* woes is quite lengthy. Listen to her: “My sisters-in-law criticise everything I have. From my clothes to my hairdo, handbags, shoes and choice of nail polish. When I visit his rural home with expensive, trendy clothes, they gossip about me using their brothers’ money badly. Surprisingly, when they come visiting, they steal some of my clothes, shoes, handbags and personal effects like body deodorants and lotions; the same ones they have criticised before.”
Naija voodoo flick
For Margaret Muli*, a primary school teacher, her experience with in-laws sounds like a script from a Naija voodoo flick. Just around the time she was newly married, she was posted to work at a primary school near her husband’s rural home. Little did she know her job transfer was to haunt her.
“Considering my husband was working in a different town, whenever his people were broke, they always came to me armed with their begging bowls. Even when I was not in a position to help, they insisted. When I failed to do so, they always called me names. I remember once being threatened with witchcraft. My sister-in-law who felt I was tight-fisted vowed to consult a witchdoctor to cast an evil spell of misfortune upon me,” she says.
Hated, shunned spouses
For Dianne, a saleslady in Nairobi, her in-laws strongly believe she is the reason her husband, a banker, is yet to build a house back in his village. “My in-laws refer to me as their kin’s biggest mistake, and keeps asking him to get a ‘proper’ wife. His siblings say I am the reason he does not help them financially like he used to when he was a bachelor. His relatives don’t hesitate to lecture me on how I’m wasting their son’s money.
“They cannot understand that he now has his own family to cater for and cannot respond to all their needs as before,” narrates Dianne, adding that some of her in-laws call her a witch, and maintain ‘minimal contact’ with her. In a nutshell, living with in-laws is tantamount to walking through live minefields.