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Dutiful Daughter: A Blessing or a Curse?

Rakhee Neebar

In my Trinidadian household, I am the eldest child of three. The only daughter of three. On most days, this feels like a blessing. It is a blessing to be educated, living comfortably and showered with love as a daughter. But on other days, it can sometimes feel like a curse. Cursed with responsibility at a fairly young age, for having to be “the mature one” or “mudda hen.” There’s a constant pressure at the back of your head that nags you to be this person that you don’t necessarily know you can be.

The immigrant sacrifice my parents took in the 1990s is one that my two younger brothers and I vow to never let it go in vain. My breadwinner father and stay-at-home mother made sure their children had what they did not. Even though my family and I live in one of the best countries in the world, it’s like the three of us have been raised like kids in Trinidad. Our frequent trips to-and-from the motherland only reinforces this child rearing. That “it takes a village to raise a child.”

In this village, there is my mother. She has a large hand in raising the three of us and many of her nieces and nephews back home. She is a successful business owner, the tanty who does cook and one of the sassiest people I know.

As the only other female in the house, there are traits and skills that my mother automatically expects me to willingly embrace – with initiative too. There’s the expectation to know how to cook, clean, wash, dry – to do it all. The expectation to pick up the men’s slack in the household, to just accept that

dais de fadda chile in print.”

The curse of the underlying expectation to be a perfect housewife.

It’s a daughter’s curse because of these added notions that our elders perpetuate. The subliminal ideals of what it is to be wifey material. How to be the ideal woman.

Who go marry you gyul, who go marry you? Thoughts that cultivate as a young girl and grows into full force in womanhood.

But what are you supposed to do if that’s the only way of life your mother knows? What do you do with these family ideals? What do you do when society reiterates these very things?

The answer is to embrace the blessing of being a dutiful daughter. And note, there is a difference between obedient and dutiful. Be the daughter that strives to be that role model, to be a didi for those around you. Be the daughter your loved ones will be proud of at the end of it all. But lastly, be the daughter that you want to be, not what you have to be. Rise above the expectations that constrain you. Show the world that you are the change – that daughters are future.

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