My father often told me when he was drunk that he wanted a boy and was disappointed when we were born. I was relieved I was born a girl because I didn’t have to carry the responsibilities of the first-born son. He’d be expected to inherit the family name and the house. He’d also have to take care of ancestors’ gravestones, the Shinto altar and Buddhism altar at home, fees, and donation to the temple, the community works, and the most significant duty of all and the primary purpose of procreation in society, the care for the aging parents.
If the family had no male offsprings, the responsibility came down to the eldest daughter. Since she was little, my sister had declared to our parents that she had no intension to remain in town to take over the family duties. My mother assured her she was free to choose her path. My father said he wanted her to succeed him, but I sensed he didn’t expect that from a girl as strongly as he did from a boy. As her admirer, I found her declaration a courageous and rebellious act for freedom. Twenty years later, however, my sister returned home after a decade of life exploration, now living with our parents, her husband, and two daughters.