Looking forward to happy times

A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss … That’s the trade-off. But I’ll take it all.

— Brad Pitt, American actor and film producer.

My younger sister is coming home for the Chinese New Year holidays. I received the good news from her on Friday night during our Zoom session.

She has not been home for a while. Last March, when our mother died, she couldn’t come home because of the movement control order (MCO) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If my younger sister, who lives in Johor, is here, that means my elder sister, who lives in Bintulu, will be here also. They also have not seen each other for a long time except on Zoom.

Until Friday night, I had resigned myself to a quiet meal at my son’s house on Chinese New Year Eve.

Even though there will be no open houses and boisterous celebration, it will still be New Year for us because we are Chinese. Hence, the name — Chinese New Year.

As with every New Year, it has to be welcomed happily — with good food and drinks but maybe, not so much noise this year.

I have not started spring cleaning the house yet and now, I am so happy I have two sisters to help me. I look forward to a spic and span house after all the cleaning is done.

My elder sister is very good in cleaning. When I was in Primary Five, she threw away my Geography notes and I had to borrow one of my friend’s notes and copy them again. I had to walk to my friend’s house to pick up the notes. That long walk in Sibu was the main reason why I remember this incident and how thorough my elder sister is as a cleaner after all these years.

My younger sister is also a good cleaner but she is careful but will check the value of an item first before chucking it away.

Currently, she works as a part-time worker in a hotel in Johor. Besides working as a waitress in the banquet hall and coffeehouse, she also helps her boss to clean forks and spoons and some of the drawers and rooms there. She is what you call a Jill of all trades. Until last year, she was captain in a big hotel in Johor. Then the hotel closed down because of poor business during COVID-19 and retrenched all the staff. By then, my sister had been with the hotel for 20 years.

She knows everything about the job of a waitress plus how to clean properly because she climbed up the ranks.

In every career, I think it is good to start from the bottom and slowly climb up the ranks. Then, you get to know all the tricks of the job and you appreciate your colleagues more. If there is an emergency, there is nothing you cannot do.

The Chinese New Year was, for decades, the best time of the year for me until my parents and younger brothers died one by one, either because of old age, sickness or misfortune.

So, my friends, now that my younger sister and elder sister will be here with me, the forthcoming New Year will be a memorable one for me.

While here, my elder sister, who is a fantastic cook, will be assigned the task of cooking all our meals.

When three sisters have not seen each other for a long time, there will be a lot of catching up to do. We will also be laughing a lot as we share memories of our childhood.

I also look forward to combing the city with them.Since both cannot drive, I will be the willing driver.

There are surely things they want to buy and bring back with them. For instance, my younger sister likes the Chinese herbs on sale at a Chinese medicine shop at Kota Sentosa. She says they are cheap and make delicious soups when stewed with chicken meat.

She is also crazy about the cakes sold at Mita Cake House in Stutong. I am sure she will bring a few home, too.

My niece, who has just started working in Singapore, is sad she cannot come home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

“While all of you will be having a good time, I will be blue here,” she told her mum and I.
“Go out and enjoy yourself, too, with your friends in Singapore,” we told her.

“Yeah, I will spend the night in my friend’s place and we will eat and drink and chit-chat,” she replied.

“Yes, do that,” we told her.

A few of her friends, who have been working in Singapore for years, have gone back to Kuching for the celebration. Never mind the need to serve the mandatory quarantine at gazetted quarantine centres or home quarantine. They cannot resist the draw of home, sweet home.

As the Chinese New Year draws nearer, airports, bus terminals and even express terminals will be crowded with celebrants and other Malaysians who look forward to reuniting their families and friends again.

My friends, if you are going home this Chinese New Year, I wish a safe journey. Stay safe by observing all the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

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