Yes, Yiing Yiing is my sister’s name, and she turns 20 today! Happy 20th birth anniversary, Mei (younger sister in Chinese)! Because mummy doesn’t believe in birthdays. Everyone only has one birthday according to her, and that is the day that you were born.
Note: This piece of writing will probably flit in and out from a narrative to a letter for my sister kind of thing, so just go with the flow.
My sister and I are five years apart, and we grew up just like any other siblings: arguing, putting each other in a bad mood when we went too far with our antics (although I get annoyed much more easily), fighting over trivial stuff… Glad those days are over. Kind of. It’s difficult to fight with you when you’re not around Mei.
People sometimes think that with a five-year gap, we wouldn’t be as close as siblings who are closer in terms of age, but since we only have each other, we make it work. Mei constantly asks me for help in everything from how to write essays to making phone calls (calling strangers is something we both hate by the way; but if you can’t tell, I really like writing essays and she doesn’t), and I ask her for help in mathematics (I truly suck at maths), updating my spendings, and if she didn’t understand a single word when I pour out my grievances to her, she never showed it. Just kidding Mei, I know you get me.
To be honest, we’re both as different as we can be, personality-wise. Mei is as stubborn as a mule, and I am not so stubborn. I think. She has a stronger, bolder personality; whereas I’m the softer type. (Words taken from my mum.) I am also more sensitive towards picking up on others’ feelings. My mum said that if she wanted an opinion different from hers, she would need to ask me, because she and Mei are the same. And Mei will say we’re different physically and mentally too. “Why are you so thin, Jie (older sister in Chinese)?” “Why are you so smart, Jie?” She says I have the “first-born confidence”, which she lacks, and I look like I do most things fearlessly. Isn’t that right Mei? But then, I don’t know if you know, Mei, but you’ve made great strides during your time away from home.
For those of you who don’t know, Mei is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music (is that your course name?) in Melbourne. She lives with our uncle and his family there, so it’s not like she’s totally independent, but she’s much more independent than when she was here. It’s not about whether she cooks or cleans, but being in university and the need (want?) to have some friends to have fun with pushed her into clubs and committees. Now she has friends (yay Mei) and is learning how to navigate the world professionally. Mei is a committee member of the sponsorship team for something called Merdeka Festival (Malaysia’s National Day celebration over in Melbourne organised by Malaysian students). She’s been sending out emails and meeting people all over Melbourne, trying to get sponsorships. Honestly, not something I would have made myself do, and I’m so proud of you Mei. Mummy is too. I think. But she just always gives constructive criticism because typical Asian parent.
Besides that, in relation to her field, she’s been joining various student ensembles, and recently signed up for “Play with MSO (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) for a Day!” or something like that. There really are a lot of opportunities in Melbourne for music development, so I urge you to take them all, Mei. And like mummy always says, “Enjoy your student life, because after that it’s work until you die.” So enjoy yourself but don’t spend the whole family fortune away, thanks. And Mei’s got a part-time job for winter break too, which she has been diligently applying for since I don’t know when. Congratulations on that again!
Anyway, the point is, you’ve achieved so much in your life (hello ATCL distinction, hello able to memorise your pieces, hello pro at maths, hello watch dramas for hours; I can’t do all that), and I believe that you will accomplish much much more. After all, you’re only 20. Thanks for the ups and downs for 20 years, and the trips in Melbourne, listening to me complain about everything under the sun (although I’ve cut down a lot), and for the pencil you shoved into my back so many years ago. (If I don’t reveal one of your embarrassing [and violent] stories, am I really your sister?) I also apologise for accidentally (emphasis on accidentally) burning you with the string I set on fire above your leg.
I would say enjoy your day, but mummy will say why enjoy one day only when you can enjoy everyday, so enjoy every single day of your life, and please pray for me to earn loads of money so I can attend your graduation and birthday (sorry I mean birth anniversary celebration) and whatever else you have planned for me in Melbourne next year for two months! Happy birth anniversary once again!
p.s. All the best for your Chinese exam today; going back to your roots on your birth anniversary, how fitting!