Saturday, March 13, 2010


Nuclear - 455 words.
Mary Ann Loo

hey hey, sorry this is laaaate!! but it's here!! yay~ :D

The last time I saw my cousin Tim, he was a pudgy 14-year-old know-it-all who could not grasp the concept that most people don’t spend half hour trying to figure out the answer to some silly riddle. My brother Andy and I were thoroughly amused by Tim’s posture – his right arm across his chest, supporting his left elbow as he rubbed his furrowed brow in deep contemplation. Think Winnie the Pooh. Think. (Get it?).

I was six when Tim was born, which makes him 21 this October. In teeny tiny Singapore where the odds of running into a familiar face almost anywhere are pretty high, I’m fairly certain Tim and I have crossed paths at least once without realizing. I’m sure I don’t look too different from when I was 20, but seven years is long enough to forget a face you ordinarily see only four times a year – New Year’s Day lunch, Chinese New Year visitations, Grandma’s birthday, and Christmas Day lunch. Perhaps this isn’t odd to you, but considering Tim’s family lives a 10-minute drive away and the fact that he’s my first and only cousin on Dad’s side, it makes me wonder why, as far back as I can remember, our interactions have been few and far between.

Dad has two younger brothers, and if it weren’t for some facial resemblance, you’d wonder how they could possibly be related, let alone have grown up together. Our family gatherings have become so predictable – predictable and pointless. They’d begin by catching up on each other’s lives, but only the surface stuff. Then they’d start talking current affairs, minus their personal opinions. Then they’d run out of things to say, during which Uncle Greg, a decade younger than Dad, starts telling a joke and everyone joins in. Then the jokes run dry, are recycled from previous meet-ups, and eventually a semi-silence ensues. I seriously begin to wonder if this cycle will be handed down to my siblings and me, and admittedly at this point in time, that probability seems disturbingly significant.

Dad shares a three-year gap with Tim’s dad, Uncle Phil, and ever since Grandpa passed away the year I was born, they used to run his electronics business together. “Used to” because the business died six years ago. “Used to” because seven years ago an argument began in the office, which severed whatever brotherly ties they once had.

So I used to ask Tim silly riddles four times a year. And my brother and I used to laugh at his Winnie-the-Pooh pose. And we used to book one of those twelve-seat tables in partitioned rooms in Chinese restaurants. And even though we never neared the ideal, we used to be some sort of family.

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - Neil Diamond

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love this. I want to read more of this story.