We were lazying around on my sister’s king size bed watching some re-runs of Spiderman cartoons. (Or was it UFC: Ultimate Fighting Championship? Didn’t St-Pierre lose? Or did I dream/hallucinate that as well?... Mmm. St-Pierre....)
“Can you please stop doing that?”
“Whagh?”, i came out from my snot-filled haze.
“That thing you’re doing with your mouth”, she whinged.
“… Gnmean bweading?!....”
“Yes. You are going to make me sick.”
Really, how can one not love her?
And love her I do.
Except when I hate her.
It’s pretty common to have these love/hate relationships amongst siblings, is it not? And quite healthy, i like to think... What is more, i find them particularly interesting, with its own special complex set of rules and demands and expectations. Though I understand that sometimes they unfortunately don’t end very well and are left on the cutting room floor, i’m the kind of gal who likes to explore these relationships to death. And though my sister & i don’t always like each other, we have thus always remained very close. Also, because our mum has incessantly pounded into our heads that we are forever binded to one another, whether we want to or not.
To tell the truth, I don’t really have any recollection of her at all for the first part of my life. We used to live in a small three bedroom apartment back then, in the “New Projects” where the first generations of immigrants were
dumped housed. We* didn’t complain though, it was more than anything I think we’d expected. I believed growing up listening to those stories of when they had first arrived as exciting & jubilating adventures. Of course there were hardships but to this day my parents still recall them as ‘utterly joyous’. They thought it was the top shit and in lots of ways it was! My earliest and only memories of my first home were being surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins who’d all somehow took turn living with us in that small rental, and with whom I’d spend my days & nights playing. I remember there was constant noise. Vivid whispers over pots and pother in the tiny kitchen. Songs of hope and home over constant shouting. Laughing and giggling and cheering.
When we finally moved further East, into our very own house, I was 4 years old. Suddenly away from everyone else, i remembered that, oh, right, i had a sister to play with. And play we did - if you count crushing every fibre of my self-esteem and sanity to a muddy pulp as playing, sure! Great fun, that was!... You see, my sister, though the spitting image of a beautiful little angel, was also a ruthless psychological tormentor. And a very good one at that (I blame those first obligatory years under the communist regime - zero to three years of age are the most formative in a child’s life, you know, and they did a dandy job on training her into one of their best secret police.) And because she was older, and our culture demanding utter respect for our elders, she took it as a licence to order me around and thus i became her slave from the tender age of 4 to 6. ‘Get me a soda’, ‘Plump my pillows’, ‘Massage my feet’, ‘Bring me food’, ‘Scratch my back’, ‘Turn left’, ‘Turn right’, ‘Stay put – Ha! I didn’t say Simon says *whips*!'
Okay. So there wasn't any actual whipping. But the treating me like a dog thing? TO-TALLY happened. And because my moon sign is the Dog, she thought that was huhfuckinglarious. Whenever i dared refuse, she’d calmly throw me a condescending look and slowly reiterate that if I “disobeyed” her, she wouldn’t play with me anymore, which also included talking or acknowledging my general existence, and then begin counting to three. Slowly. Letting. The fear. Sink. In. *squints eyes in a vengeful fury*
Another one of her favorite games was to make invisible rats and/or crocodiles appear on the ground, keeping me thus paralysed with fear and stuck to wherever it was I was sitting (right, so I
wasn’t a very bright kid had a wild imagination. You’d think that'd be a first warning sign of my mental health, now wouldn't you? Alas, no.) When I got a little older (marked by my responding to her counting to three threat with “One, two, three – CACA!” and storming off), she somehow convinced me that she had mistakenly cut off my penis when I was a wee baby and sewed back the remaining flesh best she could. I huffed it off as being the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard yet secretely wondered if this could somehow be possible.... Until I was thirteen, as I was the latest amongst my friends to be hit by Miss Flo, I actually thought that she had turned me into some freak o'nature and scientists were going to take me away (wild imagination, I tells ya! Fuelled by a recent viewing of E.T., okay?! It was scarring!... Pah!).
But sure, that was all 'fun & games'. Water under the bridge (until the day i can unleash my revenge onto her unborn child! mouahahahah! ahem... ). The thing that truly bothered me however was that, until quite recently, no one else were witnessed to this side of her. To everyone, she is this perfectly demure good girl who had to endure my shenanigans! ME! (Oh, alright, so in all fariness, she kind of was - ...i mean, i wasn't exactly a saint to live with either.)
You see, she defies all these categorizations, my sister. She isn’t quite your typical good Asian kid despite her exterior as she doesn't really care to follow the Asian crowd and its warped societal conventions; she is very conservative yet has a most foul sense of humour; she is every bit of a lady but loves racing against boys, and robots (that's 'loves robots', not 'racing against robots'. Although that would've been pretty wicked cool...); you can't call her a tomboy either for she is a sentimental sop; she is hopelessly anti-social but can be utterly & genuinely good; she is a very practical & pragmatic woman yet yelps on the top of her lungs when I hit her, and rationalise my defensive retaliation by pinching me back (PINCHING! If there's any form of physical violence i LOATHE it's pinching! Cowardly and hypocritical, it is! Argh!) But because of how she looks, high school boys would swoon over her thinking she was a perfect ice queen while others believe she was simply angelic.
(Oh, and the answer is no. I can hear some of you sneering behind that wall of nanobites and liquid cristals and flesh and bones (yes! you in the corner! i see you too!), and the answer is no - I was never jealous of her. Honestly. The only time I ever remotely felt 'robbed' was when she moved away to University. She is more of a homebody than I was and didn’t want to leave. I thought she was insane. I had dreams of going away since I was five years old and there she was, living my dream. Before me. So there. Now, let us never talk about this again. I was 12.)
My sister is just an amalgam of things that very few could actually see, that most blamed on me being 'erratic' (pfff). That's what's infuriating. But this is not about naming her flaws. Besides, that would be a list too long to post anyway… Par exemple:
- She can never admit she is wrong.
- She has a piercingly annoying condescension forever embedded in her tone. And in her eyes.
- She can be quite judgemental.
- She asks the same question over and over and over and over…. And then finishes off by patronizingly asking, ‘Are you sure?’
- She has listening problems, especially aggravating for:
a) she cuts conversations - any conversations - whether i am talking to her, or to someone else.
b) she is not interested in what you are saying [even though she expects you to be interested into the insane things she likes]
- She continuously insists on pronouncing 'Dido' as 'Diddo', referring to U2’s The Edge as The Hammer [cf. #1].
- She would come into my freshly cleaned room for no apparent reason and leave a trail of her monstrous fart behind [although, admittedly, her farting prowess demands nothing less than pure admiration]
- She nags.
- She is completely oblivious of others’ feelings sometimes. Often. [cf #5]
- She is anal & averse to change. (I mean, sure, if nothing is wrong why fix it, I hear you ask [in what i’m sure is a very much less annoying tone than hers], but, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, she still has the SAME haircut for THIRTY YEARS! And why, sweet Jesus, why must i resort to harassment, bribes, abuse and threats for her to try on a perfectly beautiful orange sweater when she INSISTS that i come shopping with her FOR MY INPUT?! Gah!)
Where was i?
Very early on, it seemed pretty clear that I could never fill her shoes. I was too messy, too loud, too clumsy, too erratic & extreme to adorn her glass slippers. Glass slippers with metal caps. To this day, I’m not sure if I embodied that bratty mess of a girl to escape being compared to her or I truly was like that. It’s all very interesting to me indeed.... Because during the worse moments of our relationship, when I harboured the thought of never speaking to her again, I also know without a shadow of a doubt how much of her was in me. And as much as I try to cut her off, I simply cannot.
When I was 16, I stopped talking to her for four months after she took a look at my made-up face, sneered and contemptuously asked “Where are you going?”... (Okay, fine, so you had to be there, i suppose. And hormoning like a 16-year-old girl. Humour me here.) I'd just always felt that she was undermining me, as if she was above, better, that she had a free pick about my decisions, as if she was my mother. And with all due cultural respect aside, there was this constant belittling tone underneath her questions. Because she didn’t wear make up, because she didn’t 'hang out' with her friends, because she thought rock n' roll was 'immature' & 'impressionable', because she couldn’t understand why I wasn’t like her, she treated me like a frivolous fool (the fact that I probably was one is beside the point here). And try as I may, she never listened. She never understood. So I stopped talking altogether. For four months. My mum went into Despair Mode and berated me for my most ungrateful behaviour towards my big sister. I thought this might get her attention. Ah, belle adolescence!...
When I was 21, right before my second mental breakdown, I had another big fight with her and resorted to the silent treatment once more. I don’t quite remember what it was about now. I simply recall the fight became a convenience as I was withdrawing from everyone and figured it’d help them get used to my absence anyway. When I finally came out of it, one of the first things I did was to tell her everything. And everything was a lot for me. Everything was what I had tried to contain all these years from everyone. Even now. All the good, the bad, the ugly and the silly. I told her about me. And she did exactly what I had always honestly believed she would.
She loved me.
She simply loved me.
It took me all of that, all those years of fearing and pondering and doubting to implode and have nothing left to lose in order to finally open up. To her. Because I have always wanted my big sister to know. Sure, we still fight once in a while/quite often over little stupid things, most of them we start just for kicks, like all siblings do. But out of anyone I have ever known, she’s the only one I can always fall on. Who would always be there, for better or worse. To pull me out, kicking or screaming. To understand and to comfort, laughing or crying. She knows me better than I’d like to admit and more than she can ever realise. And though she is not my mother, and rather awkward with words and ‘expressing her feelings’, she is my protector, my Dorkout Mate, my Perfect Murder Partner, my best friend and the only person who can understand what it is like to be my mother’s daughter.
I had a dream some time ago where my sister had killed someone. A monk, actually. A Buddhist monk. And I took the blame for her. Not because I owed it to her, not because it was a 'noble' thing to do, not because my parents had asked me to (they didn’t – now wouldn’t that have given me a few extra hours of therapy? Ha! Thank goodness for that!...). I just remember thinking when she told me about the murder, ‘Fuck, why the hell did she have to go and kill someone?!’. Because I simply knew what that would mean. It was natural for me to do what I did. Because... what would the alternative be? Because I cannot let her take a fall. Because she is really that much better than I am. Because despite all her piercingly annoying habits, she is the kindest person I know. Because she is my big sister. And someone’s gotta stand up for her. Even in a dream.
And yes, because I love her.
To bits, to pieces, to atoms and quartz, with undying gratitude.
Even when I hate her.
Which is why it pains me to no end that she is married to Biggest Twat This Side Of The Saint-Laurence. But that is another post for another very feckle day.
* I say 'we' rather loosely seeing as i am technically not conceived yet, though like to consider that i'd enjoyed quite a lot from the comfort of my mum's ovaries.
** Just don't tell her that. Knowing her the way i do, she'd completely hold this information against me. And she'd cry. She's a sensitive, this one. She cried to Sailor Moon.