My Brother’s Gift on Christmas Eve

25 Dec 2019

My brothers, Terence & Andrew under the willow branches in the Chinese Gardens during the 70s.

Late afternoon on Christmas Eve, my brother came to help me clean the ceiling fans and windows.

Standing on the ladder, he removed the layers of dust that had accumulated over this year. I stood by to pass him wet wipes and cleaning cloth that had been rinsed.

This is the only picture with our Kinmen Grandma taken in the 70s in our first flat at Prince Charles Square.

Bit by bit as the dirt came off we shared thoughts about our childhood, our parents and what we were grateful for and what we could have done better with our own lives and our family.

On a day trip to Batam Island to visit our younger brother, Andrew, where he operated a car workshop.

In between cleaning he stopped for cigarettes and to play with the cats.

Shoya greets Terence in my old flat before 2012.

By dinner time, the blades of the ceiling fans were gleaming and the glass panels of doors and windows in my home were sparkling, with bits of touch ups which I can do easily on my own. (He came mainly to clean the parts that I couldn’t reach.)

After that, we had dinner with our mother at the coffee shop down my block.

Christmas Eve marks the incarnation of God becoming Man. In our attempts to attain godliness through cleanliness, we might have a tendency to treat the less attractive and dirtier aspects of our humanness with disgust, instead of compassion like the way my brother cleared the dust in my home with light-hearted patience on Christmas Eve.

The 3 of us on Batam Island. In our childhood, Terence used to be taunted by his classmates because of my limp. I think siblings of handicapped kids are often overlooked and left on their own to manage their emotions.

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