Through the Eyes of a Nyab Essay

Submitted By clor1234
Words: 1230
Pages: 5

Compare and Contrast
Coua Lor
Herzing University – Madison, WI

Growing up my mother had always assigned chores for my older sister and me. After every assignment of course there came sighs and complaints. My mother always said “Stop complaining, one day when you go get married and become a “nyab”, which means a daughter-in-law in Hmong, you will have to do it all the time. Becoming a “nyab” was always the talk everywhere we went. If I did not do something right or did not want to do it at all, my mother’s favorite line was “If you do not do it right your mother-in-law will not like you as her “nyab.” However I did not know that while the chores are still the same, the life of a daughter-in-law in the Hmong culture differs greatly from the life of a daughter. As the third oldest child and the second oldest daughter, it was up to my older sister and I to help look after they younger ones. My mother and father started teaching us how to cook when we were seven and eight years old. We started off by making rice, then progressed on to stir fried dishes and boiled ones. We then were assigned chores. After a meal my older sister Pang would do the dishes and I wiped off the table and swept the floors. My parents both worked full-time jobs thus never really having the time to be at home. So after school my sister and I would make sure there was food for everyone to eat, and of course looked after them to make sure their homework was done. My father told us that we needed to have dinner ready for them when they came home from work because one day we will have to always cook for our in-laws to eat. The house was always supposed to be kept clean because our in-laws would like for their “nyab” to keep their house clean. We were told to greet everyone who came in the house and not to do the dishes too loud. When there were special ceremonies being held we always had to wake up at five or six in the morning and be the first ones there making rice and setting up. We had to learn how to sacrifice chickens, and prepare the intestines of pigs and cows. I remembered being woken up at eight in the morning every weekend to cook breakfast because when we get married one day we would have to do it for our in-laws. Pang and I did not enjoy it one bit. However, when we did not want to do something we would ask our younger siblings to help. Sometimes a dish would be too delicate to cook for someone who is just starting to learn so my mom and dad was there to take care of that. Whenever we needed a break or needed help it was there. Now, I have been a “nyab” for a little over a year. When I first got married I thought it would be no different from all the things that I have been doing. After the first month of marriage I finally realized what all the lectures were meant for. I had to wake up at seven o’clock every morning to cook for my in-laws. Even then, my cooking was not up to par with my mother-in-laws. I made sure the house was always clean because my husband’s grandma did not like anything to be dirty. I would remember my mother-in-law asking me to cook, or clean, or made sure a dish was cooked a certain way. I had to make sure that the table was set correctly to their standards. I remember every meal was cooked by me, and after the meal the table was cleared, dishes were washed, and the floor was swept all by me. My husband is the youngest in his family. I did not have the younger siblings to help me anymore. I remember being in the middle of a homework assignment or studying and having to go cook for my in-laws. I was obligated to do the duties a “nyab” I could not get the courage to tell my mother-in-law that I was not able to help. When ceremonies came up I remember being waken up at five o’clock in the morning to start making the rice. The vegetables needed for that day were all washed and prepared by me and the other “nyab” in the family. We were the first ones to be up and cooking, and the last ones to be cleaning and sweeping.…