Just like When She Knew – A Coronavirus Story, Boundaries is also an assignment from the writing class I joined. I’ve been writing a lot of short stories lately and it’ll be an injustice not to share.
The prompt was to write a short story about an occurrence I recall. I can’t disclose what inspired this story, but I can sure disclose the story itself and hope we all learn from it.
Cheers to respecting boundaries in people’s territories, relationships and lives.
Boundaries – A Short Story by Orobosa Ikponmwen
Everyone has them – Every person, every group, every family. Basically anywhere anybody is, there is always that one person who does not understand the concept of boundaries.
They’re either trying to talk to you like you’re familiar friends, dip their hands into your pot or enter your room without permission when they’re nothing but a visitor. The worst of them are always just that – visitors who want to get “in”.
That is my present situation.
Somehow, this girl that works as my mother-in-law’s personal assistant does not understand boundaries; geographic, environmental, or even boundaries by location.
Actually, she thinks Egypt is in the Middle East, she empties trash into her neighbour’s roadside bin – which, by the way, is locked with a padlock and nobody knows how she opens the cage – also, she doesn’t knock before entering. The only time she knocks is when she wants to enter your house and once she’s in, believe me, she thinks she is in.
I get it. My husband and I are quite famous and people love us and want to be around us, but this? I didn’t sign up for this. When I married this man, nobody told me I’ll have his mother’s assistant in my house trying to cook my food without permission.
Yes. She really did cook my food without permission.
I mean, I’ve been watching her for a while, hoping my mother-in-law will curtail her assistant’s foolishness, but no. It seems my mother-in-law doesn’t get it too. No surprise there since she encourages her behaviour.
Some weeks back, my husband and I had some friends over. His mother sent her assistant over to help out. I was having fun and in a bit of a tipsy situation and I asked her to help the other girls in the kitchen.
She went to the fridge and saw some carrots and green peas. She came back to me and asked, “Can I help you cut them?”.
I thought, “Great! Some help!” and said, “yes!”.
My other mistake.
I think she took that as some sort of sign because half an hour later, the aroma of fried rice wafted into the living room. Plates of fried rice, chicken and salad found their way in trays to the guests.
I was livid.
How do you go from “Can I help you cut them?” to “Hey everybody, I made the biggest pot of fried rice the world has ever seen.”?
I asked her where she got the chicken and salad from and she said, “Mama gave them to me.”
As I said, I was livid. I gave her transport fare and told her to head back to where she came from. On her way there, I sent her boss a long and flowery voice note on the importance of boundaries and why she should keep her hands and employee out of my home.
By the following weekend, we had a family meeting on my behalf about how I should learn to respect my mother-in-law.
When asked about why she kept on sending the girl to put her hands where she’s obviously not welcome, mama looked at me and said, “It’s like you think I’ll wait till I’m about to die before I get my grandchildren.”
I know, I know. What an ending, right?
There are actually two levels of boundaries in that story. At first, it seems like the assistant is actually being nosy – which is bad – but later, we see the mother-in-law as the sole inspiration of the ‘assistant’s’ actions.
What did you think of the story?
Feedback is always welcome.