29 April 2010

Ah Gah and The Hill 阿家與禧敏

I come from a big family. The age gap between the oldest and youngest siblings is well over a half generation. The five children, three boys and two girls, grew up in a crammed apartment in Tin Hau fighting over the bathroom and poking fun at each other every day. Born in the year of the tiger, my big sister Margaret combines the temperament of a ferocious feline and the maternal instincts of a loving tigress around her cubs. Ah Gah (阿家 Big Sis) – for that is how everyone in the family addresses her – was nothing short of a second mother to me. She would check my homework every night and buy me nifty school supplies as rewards for good grades.



When I turned four, Ah Gah got me a set of 24 coloring pencils in a sleek tin box...


_______________________

Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.



23 comments:

  1. If they had a "like" button on blogs, I would totally use it for this article...I really enjoyed reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i still hav the faber castell i used in college but hav more colors & i learned the word " sepia ", the difference is that im not lucky enough to hav such an interesting sister like u!! i love this article a lot cos its like a comedy & im curious wat hairstyle ur sister is having now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, both. I was hoping to write something lighter and give my readers a break from my usual politic commentary. Plus the story has meaning and I felt it should be told.

    Cheers,

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jason, I love this article very much. I can see the strong bond among your family members. You have a very close-knit family and support each other whenever help is needed. So happy to read something like this.^^

    LM

    ReplyDelete
  5. 很感性的一篇文章~

    S.

    ReplyDelete
  6. indeed it means a lot... and i has a special feeling about what your article have said coz i had visited a few times your old home years ago when i was a classmate of one of your siblings! Wish your niece success.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks, both. I wonder what the others think. I wanted to give my readers a break from the heavy political stuff I usually write about.

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  8. 人曉平衡,心態便會健康,
    健康了便有精神,你有精神,
    我們便可看到更多你的文章,
    多好!

    S.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ahh, I really enjoyed reading this. I thought it was very touching and almost weeped when I read the second to the last paragraph about the way to repay her is by teaching Hillary. That’s very sweet!! I hope I am like that with my brother, as Margaret was to you.

    JC

    ReplyDelete
  10. In your own unassuming way, you caused a tear to fall. I could strongly relate to the values rooted in your story, very Asian.

    MT

    ReplyDelete
  11. This has brought back not only sweet memories but tears to my eyes, very gratifying emotions coming from the bottom of my heart. Thank you Jason for such as beautifully written article.
    Having siblings is like a special gift from God, having a special bond which makes our childhood fulfilling, sharing private family jokes and secrets, going through good times and bad times together, all make our lives flourish.
    Being the only child in the family, Hilary will never be able to experience what sibling love is like, but knowing there is an uncle out there always ready to lend a helping hand really means a lot to her.
    Margaret

    ReplyDelete
  12. Margaret,

    I am glad you liked the article. I was worried that you would be offended by the third paragraph. Hair-don't... HAHAHA!

    Where Hilary lacks in siblings she makes up for with her many cousins.
    I have no doubt her childhood has been very happy and rich.

    Cheers,

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  13. Jason,

    Such a lovely and personal piece, a fresh angle from your more "commentary / documentary" pieces usually. I can almost picture a fresh shoot sprouting out of the earth towards the light.

    I know what memories those wooden colour pencils in a slim tin box can evoke. I love painting and drawing as a kid and I treasured mine in my younger years even more ferociously / jealously than a polar bear guards her cubs. And I would only use my favourite colours (such as a beautiful ultramarine tone) on my drawings which I have dedicated my heart to it. And I know I still have my box (though worn and more used after 2 decades) somewhere on my bookshelf as I cleared my room 2 years back due to a renovation.

    And my childhood "relationship" with my elder brother, elder than me by 3 years, it's nothing less than traumatic. Well, when you consider that a bright kid had to act out of a sense of justice every single day to eradicate the monstrous things in life, that's the role assumed by my superman-brother, who has to beat up the monster in his home, aka his younger sister, literally every single day, one can hardly blame me for being not too bad at self-defence though never properly trained in martial arts. And I was forced to share my pocket money with him to buy the gadgets that he relished, since when has he pooled in to buy, say, some Snoopy items for me?

    Still, I have to say, 20 years down the track, I know how much my brother loves me and cares for me. I still remember the first time when he returned for his school break from Sydney, he bought me a book, "The Wind in the Willows" and a packet of the prized strawberry and cream candies from Sydney. And my first reaction was, is this my superman-brother? Since when has he changed his mind and decided that the monster deserved a packet of strawberry lollies (Not to mention my infatuation for reading since before that age)? And the title from his second school break was "The Secret Garden". Or was he finally getting more appreciative of the monster who'd do everything he ordered now that he was in boarding school in Sydney and going through hell?

    I was so touched when I read about the part amongst you and Ah Gar and Hilary, about what you are trying to do for her. I know exactly how you feel. I have a friend or two who are so dear to me that, I could give literally anything for their families, to bring joy to them and to "cultivate" them in any way that I may be of use. I can't believe it, over a decade down the track and they are still examining people on creative writing and Macbeth? Poor Hilary, I felt sorry that she has to go through creative writing still (not the practice itself but the way it is being examined in Australia). I enjoy Macbeth, but perhaps not for an exam. And many other titles like "The Crucible"

    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  14. I live in Tin Hau,too~
    Love to see that mentioned in ur article!!

    KC

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is one of the most touching article I have read , thank you! I am sure you must have felt like your sister in the process, it reminds me of when people say a small thing can have a lot of meaning... i really like the humaness in the piece!

    J.C.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have kept my colouring pencils as well, all 36 of them. I used to feel so proud whenever I took them out during lessons in primary school, when others only had sets of 24 or 12 in paper packaging because our schoolbags were heavy enough!

    YH

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lovely, Thanks for sharing!

    M.

    ReplyDelete
  18. It was nice to read such a personal post. Brought tears to my eyes and inspires me to be the best big sister I can be to my siblings!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nice to read your touching story.

    I and my family's ladies received a bunch of rose from my younger brother on his wedding last Sunday. He thanked us to help and support, very touching.

    Hilary may thank for your help when she understands what you do for her in the future.
    Keep on.

    Viola

    ReplyDelete
  20. Very endearing to read this post--my younger brother & I are half way round the globe from each other (I in HKG & he in Toronto) and I truly could see him doing the same for my only child in the future... not that he can teach him English, but certainly life skills and "how to be a man" capabilities will be up his alley.

    My parents arrived in HK last week with an old toybox that my brother got for his 5th b-day. It brought tears to my eyes because there were still toys inside from our childhood days! My brother & I were always taught good values to "take care of our toys"...it truly was exhilarating to see the Tonka trucks, classic hot wheels! Some with a little chipped paint,however,most were in tip top shape.

    I hope my 3-year old will cherish this "Humpty Dumpty" toybox and pass it down to his kids, grandkids as part of our heirloom...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks, Annie, for sharing your equally endearing story!

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  22. I enjoyed this article very much. Very heartfelt! Has your Ah Gah read it? I'm sure she will be very touched by it. I, especially like this portion: "And when the Hill told me she needed help with Macbeth and creative writing, my heart skipped a beat. “Get your Skype account ready and fasten your seatbelt,” I screamed into the telephone and proceeded to schedule one-on-one lessons via video-conference." I could not help smiling while imagining it--reminds me of similar memories.

    One of the most wonderful blessings in life is having a close, loving relationship with one's siblings.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Today is the first time I read this...I love it. I am sure Margaret will be touched.

    ReplyDelete