Ten years ago, I visited the US for the first time. The occasion was super special -- my sister had just given birth to my niece baby Aish. When she saw how head over heels in love I was with that little bundle, my sister tried to convince me for the 3983948th time to move to the US because she badly badly wanted us to live near each other. "So that our kids can grow up as siblings, not cousins." She'd said. I was 26 and not even married, but her statement made me all misty-eyed.
Xena met her first cousins for the first time when we visited them in 2012. The three of them had a great time playing together. Of course, Xena was just 1.5 years old so she didn't remember much when we came back. Given everyone's busy schedules and the sheer distance between Singapore and the US, we were not sure when all of us would reunite. My sister's dreams of the kids growing up as siblings seemed far, far away.
Last year, they made a surprise trip to Singapore. The cousins were reunited -- at an age where they would actually remember stuff! Given that her son is almost the same age as Xena, I kind of expected the two of them to get along like a house on fire, and the very dignified 9-year-old that Aish is, to maintain her distance from the 'babies'.
However, I was in for a big surprise/shock. Not only did the two girls completely ignore him, they shut us out as well. They would be in the room, playing together and chatting for hours like a pair of giggling teenagers, while he would be standing outside, bawling, "No one wants to play with me!"
We tried our best to console him and get them to include him, but it didn't work all the time. I didn't have the heart to tell a 4-year-old the truth -- that it was not him; it was just a sister thing. Secretly, it warmed my heart to see the two girls interacting exactly like my sister and me, when we were kids.
Recently, Xena asked me if she could send a message to Aish because the time difference and the kids' routine kinda makes it difficult to Skype. So I recorded her message and sent it via WhatsApp to my sister. The responses had arrived by the next day, and here's the full conversation.
Xena - Come here, please. Just come and stay here forever. I miss you. Please. Can you come here forever and don't go back to the US?
Aish - I really miss you too. But we will meet soon. Not like we're never gonna see each other again...
The boy - I wanna talk too!! Hello. I ate a bean. It tasted good. And I like cake and I like noodles and roti. I got a new table and a new bed and a sofa... (*my sister laughing in the background*)
Yep, the brother-sister thing is not the same as the sister-sister thing. Definitely not the same.
I'll end this post with a picture clicked during their Singapore visit. Xena, wearing a dress that once belonged to Aish, was upset about something but I can't remember what, and Aish was trying to cheer her up. I don't know what it is about the picture, but it melts my heart every time I look at it.
Sigh... Sisters... :')