The Darker Brother

Being the youngest in the family, my brother Wan, had always been the centre of attention. I, on the other hand, is his eldest sister and whatever they said about the eldest and the youngest not seeing eye to eye, is true. At least it was at the time when we were both kids. 

It did not help that Wan was born with darker skin as compared to the rest of us siblings. I often took the opportunity to tease him that he was actually adopted by our parents. His birth mother was a rubber tapper living in an estate somewhere. She had no money and had to give up Wan for adoption. Wan initially believed what I had told him and would be running to our mother crying for comfort.

Until he was old enough to understand, on every birthdays of his, I told him that his birth mother would eventually come to collect him on his next birthday. Wan would just keep quiet at first. A few days after his birthdays, he would slowly come to me and said, “You lied. My birth mother never came. That means I was not adopted”. He had that relieved look in his eyes proving that he truly believed what I had told him. 

Sometimes he would report about what I had said to our parents. They would scold me of course, for teasing Wan, but it did not stop me from joshing him still. I really loved to see the way his eyes curled and ready to spill some tears because of the bogus stories I told him.

As the youngest, he was not just teased by me but also by the other siblings. One of my younger brothers, Sham loved to take the fresh long beans from the fridge and hang it on Wan’s neck from behind. While doing this, Sham would scream, “Snake!” The feeling of cold long beans lingering on the neck definitely made it feel like there was a snake creeping on your back. Again, Wan would be running to our mother crying for comfort. 

Once, Wan was actively hopping here and there in front of the television just for fun when suddenly Sham get annoyed and asked him to stop. Wan reluctantly stopped and sat down quietly at the corner. Sham’s response to Wan? “Good dog!” he told Wan.

Since he was often teased for being darker, he built a self-mechanism to justify himself. One time when I was already attending college, he called just to tell me that he had read in the newspaper that people with darker skin would have lower risk of getting cancer. He was about eight years old at that time. He had that proud tone while talking over the phone with me. The phrase tall, dark and handsome would always make him gloat with pride because that phrase had given high values to men with dark skins, and that of course, would include him.

Wan has a natural love for animals. A personal trait that we siblings, did not share. At times, I do feel that Wan is the miniature of Tarzan because of the way he holds and talks to the animals. He is the saviour if there are stray cats approaching us and all we do is screaming for help. Wan would carefully pick up the cats and put it far away from us. When he was about nine years old, my father allowed him to keep hamsters as pets. Since the rest of us were afraid of his new pets, a promise was made between him and us that he would ensure the hamsters were kept in the cage all the time. 

However, on one occasion when Wan was not home because he had to attend an afternoon class, my other brother saw the hamsters running away freely on the floor. They must have escaped from the cage. One could have imagine the hysterical screams that came out from us and the horrible scene that was created. All of us automatically stepped on the dining chairs and had to wait for Wan to come home from school. Nobody dared to step down on the floor as we no longer could see the whereabouts of the hamsters. That would mean they could be anywhere in the house. So there we were, waiting patiently, standing on the chairs for one whole hour. Some of us were reading, some of us were watching the news from the television and some of us had even took a nap. Perhaps tired by all the commotion earlier. All these activities were done by us while standing on the chairs.

Given the 7 years gap between my younger sister and Wan as the last edition to our family, he was really attached to my parents. My father treated him like his sidekick and brought him along to everywhere he went. My mother, would fuss on him all day and do all his house chores so that Wan could focus more on his study. Soon, it was time for all of us siblings to fly out of the nest and the only one left for our parents to babysit was Wan. We were thankful that my mother had him at a later stage in her life so that when all the children had left the house, there was at least someone to be there and look after them.

Nobody doubt that he is actually a very smart boy. At the time of writing this, Wan has completed his Bachelor’s Degree and Masters Degree from a prominent university in New Jersey, United States and is currently working at a MNC. So, to all the girls who are eyeing him, you have this big sister to pass through first ok, hahaha.

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