Well, it is Mothers’ Day here in Japan so I thought I would write a piece in praise of my mother-in-law. She is a diminutive soul, my mother-in-law, barely five feet tall and very much an inaka baachan. She grew up deep in the countryside and although she has since moved to a small town, she is still mostly quite unaware of the outside world. Until my wife and I took her to the UK in her 60th year she had never been abroad. Never mind abroad, she had barely set foot outside her little neighbourhood. And yet, this unworldly wise woman accepted me from the very first minute of meeting me and has treated me as nothing but one of her own; so much so, in fact, that she seems often to forget that I don’t speak old-woman countryside dialect and will just prattle on at me full speed with no concessions to my foreigner’s brain processing power. She playfully punches me when I stand next to her and emphasize her lack of height, but does so in a manner that says to guests, ‘Look how tall my son-in-law is! Isn’t he great?’ And that’s the thing – she is proud of me. Lord only knows why, but she is and that makes me happy. She is proud to show me off, she tells random strangers about me and she has more photographs of my family in her house than she does of her own. In a family that pays little heed to birthdays, she never forgets to mark mine with a gift of a bottle of wine because she knows I would get presents in Britain.
But sometimes it’s hard to live up to expectations. She makes me out to be a successful young man (neither of which adjectives truly fit) and will tell all her cronies about what’s going on in my life. She doesn’t mean to exaggerate but, bless her, sometimes her lack of worldly knowledge shines through. She thinks I’m a techno-whiz because I am able to convert videos to, as she calls it, a ‘CVD’ and likes to tell her friends about my prowess. This would be fine if she wouldn’t get it quite so off the mark. My computer broke this week. I bought a new one and mentioned this to her the other day. My wife and I later visited her and I couldn’t help but feeling all of her friends were mighty impressed with me. For it would seem my lovely mother-in-law had just informed them that I’d bought the Internet.