There are some stories you hear, stories that sounds like a movie or one of those newspaper column gists until it happens to you or someone close by. So, during Christmas break, I caught up with a childhood friend I haven’t spoken to in a long while. Let’s call her Victoria. Victoria is thirty-five, she works in a multinational, runs a huge cake business and is also the mother of two toddlers. You can see why we haven’t spoken in a while! Anyway, she shipped her boys off to their grandparents for Christmas and we finally had time to catch up. Let me go straight to the point. Her father is aging so she and her three brothers decided to finish the house he’s been building.
A little background. Victoria is the oldest of four children- she’s the only girl. As the oldest she graduated school first, got a job and began to assist her parents immediately. She singlehandedly put two of her younger brothers through university. Her parents were civil servants, so things weren’t really easy. The father started the building when they were kids, but he couldn’t even build it halfway. That’s why for his 75th birthday (next year) his kids decided to complete at least one flat in the building or the entire thing. “Depends on how much we can raise,” Victoria told me.
So, they hired bricklayers and began building. Since she earned more than her brothers she contributed almost double of what they each contributed. One of their father’s helped to supervise and to ensure the workers didn’t cheat his niece and nephews. After work one day, Victoria drove to the building site to check out progress of the house. She met her direct younger brother and the uncle. They began walking her through the house, updating her on the next steps and how much they would need. As they went around, the uncle then casually told her that she should remember that she is a woman, another man’s property, that when their father dies, the building automatically belongs to her brother. Those are not his exact words, but you get the gist. My friend was shocked, and her brother stood there and didn’t say anything. They insinuated that she only had more money to contribute because her husband took care of her home expense. She kept quiet, contained her anger. When she got home, she decided since even at this point, they are telling her she’s another man’s property, they should complete the building themselves. What hurt her most was her brothers even having the discussion at all! But then, guilty conscience entered. Should she deprive her parents the joy of moving into their own house after all he sacrificed for them? She is considering to either continue contributing to the building or to buy her father a nice car to replace his jalopy and throw him a big birthday. What do you guys think? If it was you what would you do?