Sibling Strife

Sibling strife is often the rule, at least at some point in life.

The first time I greeted my sister Jacqueline was with a smack across the head. She was flourishing in undiluted attention for 9 months before encountering an existential threat: me. All 140cm of me, the gangly 7 year old child suddenly sidelined to make space for this defenseless little being. Forced to feign enthusiasm during our first introduction, my father officiated our relationship in a weird chipmunk voice, “WHO is this! OOOOOooo! This is your DA – JIEH! Da Jieh means BIGGGGG sister. Say har-low! Harrrrrr-low da jieh! Harrrrr-lowwwwwwwww!”. She of course, laid there unresponsive. I felt like pinching her.

When my dad turned his back, it didn’t take her long to realize that the menacing forty eight-pound pest was about to give her an omen of time to come. *smack*

We fought a lot. For years I told people that we found her in a bin outside the house and decided to keep her. Not meant with maligned intentions of course. After all, siblings are born to compete for parental attention, and the strategies become more creative as the years pass. From fake tummy aches, punches and kicks to accusing war cries, we were both at each others throats as soon as she learned how to throw solid objects my way. The greater the perception of differential treatment, the more conflict and hostility marked our relationship.

Having bud from different grapevines, it’s inevitable that we have our differences. We don’t share the same voice or opinions, hobbies or sense of humor. We’re different in the sense of long hair vs short hair, floral versus studs, pretty teals versus rebel black and the list goes on. Heck, when we go on family island vacations, you’ll find her sitting under a coconut tree, decked with a sombrero looking hat, fanning herself  like Lagerfeld on heat. While I on the other hand, lay in bare minimum soaking up a tan. What else? Oh, we have different taste in men, in that she can’t live without them and I’m gay. She collects perfume, I collect stationary, she’s Dior, I’m Diesel.  The only thing we have in common is probably our love for alcohol. Amen sister!

Though we’ve gone through some rough times, like when I stole her candy (which she later avenged by taking my clothes – vice versa) and that one time when I pushed her down the stairs, made her do my house chores, dobbed on her, blackmailed her….water under the bridge of course. Despite epic conflicts and differences in temperament throughout the years – we’ve managed to find a middle ground and retain the peace in our relationship, thanks to teen years abroad (and wardrobes apart), we’ve remained somewhat close and are there for each other. After all those years of fighting and arguing, it has helped us master our own conflicts and if there weren’t any, then it would never have been possible for us to be more connected as adults.

I’m not naive though. I know there’s going to be ripples of discomfort when I move back in. I am sure of it, especially having formed new habits, acclimatized into our individual spaces and lifestyle over the last 3 years. I know we’ll probably bicker over laundry, closet space, who gets to watch what movie, whose turn it is to do the dishes, unwanted guests at ungodly hours, the mess (oh, the mess….). It will take time to readjust but I expect nothing less than sisterly bickery love. Others may help us become who we are, but no one else knows us from the beginning to the end, and that longevity can be humbling.

Da jie is coming home! *smack* – that was a kiss, not a slap 🙂



  1. Aww…that’s sweet…=)

    My answer was always a resounding ‘no’ when my parents asked if I wanted a younger sibling. Uh uh…I wanted all the attention for myself, thanks. But I can’t deny there are times now when I feel so alone that I wish I had a sibling – younger, older, step – that I could count on and talk to!

    1. Being the only child has its perks I’m sure! But yes, its a love hate thing. I have 4 siblings in the family + 2 from dad’s current marriage. The eldest too. Pressure! What you lack in family, you make up with your friends 🙂

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