I’m a daughter. I don’t claim to be a very good one, but I do my best – and my best ain’t too shabby.
Malintzin was a daughter, too — although specifics are sparse. Somehow, she came to live among the Maya. There’s speculation that she was Mexica nobility, sold into slavery by her family. Legend has it that she was the victim of her gender; as a daughter, she had less value than a son and was discarded by a stepfather who finally had his male heir.
Maybe her family was killed and she was taken. Maybe she ran away and was captured. So many possibilities and who knows what the truth is? History didn’t deem the information important enough to remember.
But I’m a daughter. And so was Malintzin.
It’s difficult being a daughter sometimes. There’s a struggle to be independent, to be an individual. I think there’s also a wish to be accepted and loved, as well as a hope that your choices will make your parents proud. It’s a rite of passage, though, to be able to say, “I hope you’re proud of me. But these are my choices and I hope you respect them, whether you agree or not.”
My mother and I struggle with boundaries sometimes. I’m a control freak. She is stubborn. We clash. We’ve had many a conversation about daughters. As her father’s daughter, she had his unconditional support if not his unconditional approval. She married young, had a child and divorced young. She made a good life. As her daughter, I have had her unconditional support all my life. She was the kind of parent who let me read anything I wanted, age-appropriate or not. She didn’t always approve of my choices — in fact, I recall a few choice words following particularly bad decisions — but she felt that I had to own them, good or bad. It was my grandfather’s philosophy that thought should go into the decisions we made, along with awareness and acceptance of the possible consequences. He did not accept “I don’t know” or random impulsiveness or accidents. He would not accept excuses. My mother agreed with him.
So, this is the bias I bring to reading and learning about Malintzin. I don’t need to retell her history from an apologist perspective in order to respect that she made choices, whether I agree with them or not. What we know about her comes mostly from the Spanish conquistadors.
It’s a convoluted narrative.