This short anthology of essays and stories is full of surprises, passion, and humor, and is for the sophisticated reader with a sense of humor but who does not shy away from the dark side of life. The book touches on fatherhood, but also strays into the dangerous world of terrorist mothers-in-law, the community called Mangaloreans (or Mangalorean Catholics), and the life of a Dutch dreamer-father.
- A Dutch artist and loving father is lost in Thailand, and dies of a Valium overdose. His body lies in a Bangkok morgue awaiting his wife and children.
- An author thinks of his books as if they were his children, and finds their “death” to be a traumatic experience.
- A son who has been arrogant and condescending towards his old father, suddenly begins to appreciate his father’s true greatness, which his own anger had hidden from him; he hastens to bring a long-forgotten and unpublished book of his father’s into publication, and has the pleasure of seeing him become, in the world’s eyes, a published author, less than two years before his death.
- The most fitting monument to commemorate the momentous visits of the great South Indian monarch, Tippu Sultan, to Mangalore?
Passion, humor, humanity, and feeling blend together in this eclectic book
THE TERRORIST MOTHER-IN-LAW
More Conversations With Wim
Wim, the Dutchman who I met in Thailand, said to me one day, “The Thais have a proverb: Before buying an elephant, take a good look at its tail. Before marrying a woman, take a good look at her mother. The idea is not that mothers-in-law are bad people. Ninety-nine percent of them are fine, and as good and perhaps a little better than the rest of us. But if you are the unlucky one to get the bad one percent, you are in for utter misery. That’s why, not only should we be taught all about marriage while at school, there should also be a special course on How To Screen A Prospective Mother-in-Law.
“Men may be from Mars, and women from Venus, but bad mothers-in-law are from only one place: Hell. And they bring it along with them, wherever they go. Hell, packaged in a suitcase, or in a house-dress.
“Bad mothers-in-law never leave the married couple alone. You may emigrate to Mars, thinking you are finally safe from her. But just wait a year, and who do you see alighting from the latest spaceship from earth, bellowing at the astronauts to carry her heavy bags? Your mother-in-law! And she has only dropped by because she was visiting some neighboring planets, and she remembered she had to visit her daughter. And she will only stay with you for a few years.
If you want to enter an American college, you have to pass an SAT test or a GMAT test. If you want to be a mother-in-law, you should have to pass an MAT: a Mother-in-Law admission test. There will be no passing or failing scores, but low scores will warn prospective sons-in-law of stormy weather ahead.
“I would have gladly accepted stormy weather. But what I got was endless hurricanes.
“Haven’t you heard of the famous Dutch feminist? Osama bin Hagen Daz? That was my mother-in-law. She was a terrorist. Compared to her, the real Osama was a pussycat. She was a woman who struck terror in the hearts of men, young and old. She had grown to become thus just after she became a woman spurned. She was by nature a woman endlessly hungry for attention, flattery, worship, and goods. Once she became older, though, she received less attention and flattery. This made her unappeasable, more ferocious than ever. No man could survive in her presence for even a few hours—let alone for a few years or a lifetime. There were no men in her life now—and so she became an enemy of all men. She went straight for their throat.
“She was unstoppable. She could get people to do her will, even if her will was crazy. You know, she is ethnic Dutch—but her family had been in Indonesia for two generations from the time of the Dutch colonists. One day, all on her own, she converted my son to Islam—had some sort of ceremony performed, that is. A few weeks later, she herself becomes a born-again Christian. She will do anything if it gets her attention. Then, when she realized the Islamic party had again become powerful, she converted back to Islam. If you promise her national TV coverage, she will even become a Zoroastrian.”
“Osama bin Hagen Daz!” I laughed.
“Yes, she’s related to the Van Laadens and also to the Van Harridans.” “So what actually happened?” I asked, not willing to let the subject dissolve in flippancy.
“A tribute to fathers . . . stories and poems which touch a chord.” – Savvy Magazine