It’s a fact that I’ve literally been there since you was born, and I’m sure, being my sister and all, you know that somewhere packed inside my head is a story we’ve both consciously tried to forget.
Which is why I’m surprised you chose me for this job.
Regret is not an option.
Throughout this process, I will try my best to share our most memorable moments and shower you with “happy thoughts”.
But I will have to admit that its going to be extremely hard considering I was there when we were still running around the house in less than our underwear, benevolently fighting for that ducky potty.
Don’t pretend you don’t remember.
Tish and I weren’t always the close brother and sister that we are now.
Growing up we were just like any ordinary brother and sister.
I remember the household consisting alot of endless Tom and Jerry fights, countless broken toys from being tossed at each other, and the endless cries of “MOOOOOOOOOOM!! TESHAH STOLE MY DIGIMON AGAIN!”
Cliché as it was, this did happen.
As a baby, she earned the nickname Lamb Chop from her fat chubby thighs.
Alot of my youth that I remember consists of a hatred of Tish’s guts. When we’d start an argument, she was always one who’d never admit defeat. No matter who was right, she’d always end up strutting into my room, messing up my cupboards, and walk outta there like a boss.
Yelling “MOM!” was like an endless cry of “Wolf!”. It stopped working after a while.
Tish was heartless! On top of that, she was moreso stubborn!
There were times when her stubbornness went a little too far.
As kids, one of the greatest battle for pride was calling shotgun on the frontseat. The competition started the moment we put our shoes on.
Like there was nothing more important than taking that front seat, we’d sprint to the car, place a hand on the handle, and booty-block the other from even remotely coming near – whoever was first to reach the car door had the joy of projecting a real-life :P smiley with no consequences!
Mum made a simple rule to counteract our whinging– we would alternate between shotguns. I ride there, Tish rides back. And vice versa.
Well there was this one time we were heading out to the local bowling alley. My Aunt, who was visiting from overseas, told us that she wanted to get us our own bowling balls as a Christmas gift.
We were ecstatic.
Routinely, we raced and the both of us caught the door handle at the exact same time. Tish shoved me away from the door, getting into the front seat, and locking it shut.
Tish rode shotgun last. It was my turn to sit infront.
There we were, shouting like cats and dogs. My Aunt, knowing my mum’s simple rule, side with me and gave Tish an ultimatum.
“If you don’t let Adam sit infront, you won’t get your own Christmas bowling ball.”
Being stubborn has always been one of Tish’s many flawless traits. Maybe sitting infront was more important than the bowling ball; maybe she thought my aunt was bluffing; maybe she just couldn’t give into her pride.
Either way, she didn’t flinch.
I got that bowling ball for Christmas.
She never made me forget that.
Well I didn’t really HATE Tish. Hate is too strong a word. I’d say it was more of an undying but bareable dislike against my younger sister.
With that said, I applaud my parents for creating this bond we now share.
Tish and I would attend after school tuition together. We did the same sporting activities together. We even shared the dream of one day joining the cast of Barney the Dinosaur.
In 1998 mum and dad made plans for us to stay with our Aunt for our school holidays (the same Aunt that denied Tish her bowling ball).
She lived in Saipan – a small island off the coast of Guam.
It was an 18 hour flight from Malaysia including transits.
I was 9; Tish was 8.
I think it was since then that we’ve been each others security blanket.
One memory stood out more than the rest.
It was our first visit to Walmart.
I kid you not, Walmart in Christmas was probably BETTER than Toys R Us! Everything was beautifully decorated, lights glimmering while the speakers sang festive tunes.
Best of all – there were toys scattered across the giant warehouse!
The first thing that caught our eyes whilst walking into Walmart was the massive Barney the Dinosaur doll centred in the hallway.
Without hesitation, we ran up to grab the biggest Barney doll we could find.
This Barney doll was a head taller than I was. Probably two heads taller than Tish!
Barney was double the size!
For two hours, we were living the dream.
We had our very own lifesize Barney doll – lugging it around Walmart as if puppeteered by Barney himself.
We were so determined to fly the doll back with us to Malaysia. Unfortunately, that would consist of an extra seat on the plane, which my Aunt strongly advised against.
Instead, we downgraded and bought the miniature versions.
Nonetheless, we were still gleefully excited!
Tish is a genuine foodie.
Tish always loved her food.
Her favourite was and always has been fried chicken.
Visiting KFC was pretty much a regular!
Om nom nom…
Speaking of food, there was this one time when Tish and I were playing in the garden. Vigorously chasing each other back and forth, Tish was no stranger to having something edible fisted between her palm and fingers.
In this one particular scenario, Tish tripped while chasing me, fell down and scraped her cheek on a pavement next to our resident drain well.
She started tearing, somber eyed, sobbing and muttering words I couldn’t decipher.
“Are you OK? What’s wrong?” I asked.
Glary eyed, she looked up at me, then back down into the well – her fingers pointed at a small object at the bottom.
“MY LAST FISHBALL!!!” she cried.
Some may say Tish is a tough cookie. Hit her in the head, and she’ll hit you back.
But I know the true Tish. Take her food away from her, and expect an epic display of waterworks.
Things didn’t change much throughout our teenage years. She’d always be there in my background annoying the shit outta me and my friends. (Naive as I was, years later Tish admitted that she was in fact flirting with most of them).
Not only that, but whatever cool new thing I got for myself, she had to get as well – nullifying its “cool” factor.
Like one time I bought this sweet backpack. One where you sling a strap over one shoulder and Velcro it across your chest. It was pretty sweet I must say – a black back bag with a neon orange lining.
I thought I was the shit. I knew I was the shit.
As I walked out of the store, head held high with my proud new purchase, Tish walks out 5 minutes later with the exact SAME bag, with the exact SAME velcro strap, slinging over the exact SAME shoulder as me.
Instead of the orange lining, it was a light blue.
“It’s not the same Ko, mine’s blue!” was her reason.
I don’t think I ever used my orange bag again.
Ever since we landed in Australia, the obligatory bonds that made us siblings have grown only stronger throughout the years.
Being away from our parents taught us to depend on one another for more than just security – at that point we only had each other for family.
I left a year before she did. I was 14 that time. The final moments back home was hard to let go. Tish would always have a smile on her face, saying stuff like “You’re going to have so much fun in Australia!” or “Make sure you don’t come back saying MATE!”
*cough* Look who’s talking now… *cough*
I didn’t know I could feel the type of sadness I felt til I was at the airport on my final few minutes before departure.
As I said bye to Mum and Dad, tears in mums eyes swelling as Mum said bye to her only son. I stayed strong. Only droplets emerging in my eyes.
It wasn’t until Tish came in for her embrace that I couldn’t help but bawl my eyes out.
Tish gave me one of the biggest hugs of my life.
Her eyes started watering. Her body was shivering. It was like she was physically saying “Don’t go, I’m going to miss you so much” – but the words were never said.
At that point I realised I was leaving more than my family behind.
I was leaving my baby sister behind.
Tish and I grew up side by side.
I’ve seen my sister grow from the bud in a bed of flowers, to the beautiful rose she that stands out above the rest,
I hope you know how much sense you’ve made in my life and how much it all means.
To show my gratitude for being there the past 21 years, I prepared a little surprise.
Happy 21st Birthday Tish!