In the name of my mother-in-law

This afternoon, I brought my mom to my regular durian seller to buy durians. This durian seller has a stall just outside a clinic in the Mei Ling Street area. Even though we moved to another housing estate after we got married, we still get our durians from him. I believe most of you get your durians from a regular supplier too, right?

My mom selected two mao san wang durians and two D24 durians. I selected one of each for my family. The six durians cost $135, and he brought it down to $130. I delivered my usual “can you please charge me a little less?” line, and he of course replied that he’d already given me a good price. Sigh. Why do I even bother bargaining when I so seldom succeed? But this afternoon, I was in a cheeky mood, so I looked at him and said (in Chinese), “If you don’t give me a discount, my mother-in-law will be upset with you.”

My MIL can bargain very well. My hubby and his sister often relate stories of how embarrassed they would be when they were kids accompanying their mom out shopping because she could really drive a hard bargain. But they’d follow her nonetheless because they needed her to buy stuff for them. They’d joke about how the shop keepers would, by the end of a bargaining session, be practically pushing the items into my MIL’s hands and pleading to pay her money to take the products. Yes, they do exaggerate a little somewhat in their story telling; the humour runs in the family.

Anyway, this durian chap knows my MIL well, after all, she has been buying durians from him since he was a young boy helping his dad man the store. He looked at me wide-eyed. I said, “You’d better give me a better price, otherwise the next time I bring my MIL here, she’ll scold you.” Sheepish smile. I tried one more line, “Do you know who my MIL is?”

Sigh, it didn’t work. I didn’t get any further discount. We paid up. I carried my mom’s bag of durians and put it in the boot of the car before returning to the stall to collect my bag of durians. That was when the durian chap came up to me, opened my bag and pointed into it and said, “Here. I put in a whole durian for you, please tell your MIL that it’s for her.” He gave me an entire durian for free! I went home and related the story to my MIL; she was so tickled and pleased.

This incident really showed me what it means to use the name of someone. When we pray in the name of Jesus, that’s what happens as well. First, we establish our identity in God. In this case, she is my mother-in-law. Then, we pray according to how God’s will—I bargained according to my MIL’s will, which is that she must have a discount in anything she pays for. And also, praying acknowledges our total dependence on God. In this case, without using the name of my MIL, I would have had no authority to persuade the durian seller to give me a discount. But the power of God’s name! I just mentioned the word 家婆 and the durian seller didn’t see me anymore, he saw my MIL standing in my place! WOW!