My wife's Auntie
When Auntie was born, he parents were disappointed she was not a boy. Boys can do physical work, help the family and bring in money. Girls have to be fed and are only an expense. "Better to raise geese than girls," the Chinese say. So they sold her to a family with some money who intended to raise her as a servant. Auntie never went to school, she only learned to scrub floors and such. To this day she is completely illiterate. When she became a young woman a man wanted to marry her. He paid the family some gold as compensation for the loss of their servant.
Sometimes my wife and her sister, as children, would visit Auntie. When the subject of the West came up, she advised them to keep an open mind because there may be some good ideas there. She was unusual.
Once I was visiting, and she and I took a walk through her hometown. We stopped at a hawker's stall for some iced tea. Suddenly her husband came walking by. He was surprised to see us. I had never met him before. He was a tall and slender Chinese man with leathery brown skin and a headful of spikey white hair. He was charming and funny, easily one of the most likable persons I've ever met. Afterwords I learned he cheated on Auntie many times, gambled away their savings, drank a lot, and when drunk was physically abusive to Auntie. Later he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The Malaysian universal health care system said it was cost effective to let him die rather than treat him. Near his end he was very sick, and his daughter shoved him in the back seat of her car and her boyfriend drove them to the hospital. He died on the way. They arrived at the hospital with the daughter clutching her father's corpse. The daughter told Auntie he died at the hospital rather than in the car. That way she would not think the car was haunted, and would still ride in it.
My wife and her sister
When my wife came to school age, it was time to register her. Her father had either been up late gambling with his friends at the coffee shop or had been up late fighting and arguing with his wife, and was slow to get up. He put her on the back of his motorbike and they took off for the Chinese School. The Chinese School is the one with all the prestige, as it teaches the Chinese Classics and related subjects all educated persons should know. When they got there they saw the line was long because they were late. Her father didn't want to wait. Across the street there was no line at the Catholic school, so he took her there. Later, my wife's younger sister went there too. Since they were daughters, their education was not important---both their brothers went to the Chinese School.
Now, as adults, one brother works in a machine shop in Singapore operating a drill press putting holes in motherboards. He wants to get a job in a hardware store. The other brother makes screen doors at a factory in Sarawak. Both my wife and her sister attended college in the U.S. The school said they had never seen an ESL score as high as my wifes sisters. Both girls made the deans list, both graduated with honors, my wife asa member of a sorority associated with Phi Beta Kappa. Her sister is now an RN in California, working as a dialysis nurse. My wife is an internal auditor for a health insurance company. She writes, also. She has had stories published in literary magazines, has a childrens' book coming out soon, and a local theater group will be putting on a play she wrote.
Their fate as girls ironically lead them to a better, more useful education.
Thinking is overrated