Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tears for a brother

We were discussing in other blogs about how some men don't cry at sad movies and all that tear-jerking stuff.  Then I remember this little story that has been going around in the internet and was also published in the Star some time ago.  I have it reproduced here.  Now read it.  And if you cannot at least wet your eyes (try sprinkle some water....), then you either have read it before, have a stone for a heart, cannot connect between heart and head (have the system checked by EDP dept) or you don't read English good-good.....


I WAS born in a secluded mountain village. Day-by-day my parents ploughed the dry, yellow soil with their backs to the sky. I have one younger brother.

Once, to buy a handkerchief which all the girls around me seemed to have, I stole 50 cents from my father’s drawer. He found out right away and made my brother and me kneel against the wall as he held a bamboo stick in his hand.

“Who stole the money?” I was too stunned to speak up. Father said: “Fine, if nobody wants to admit to the theft, both of you will be beaten!”

He lifted the bamboo stick ... Suddenly, my brother gripped his hand and said, “I did it!” The long stick hit my brother’s back with a thud. Father was so angry he kept hitting brother until he lost his breath. After that, he sat down on the stone bed and shouted: “You have learnt to steal from your own house now. What other shameless things will you do in future? You should be beaten to death!”

That night, mother and I hugged my brother. His back was red and swollen, but he didn’t shed a single tear. In the middle of the night, all of sudden, I cried out. My brother covered my mouth with his little hand and said, “Sis, don’t cry. It’s over.”

Years have passed but the incident remains fresh in my mind. I still hate myself for not having the courage to admit to the theft. I cannot forget my brother’s expression as he spoke up to protect me. That year, he was eight years old and I, 11.

When my brother was in his last year of his Lower Secondary, he was offered a place in an Upper Secondary school in town. At the same time, I was accepted into a province university. That evening, father squatted in the yard, smoking continuously. I could hear him say, “Both our children have very good results.”

Mother sighed. “What’s the use? How could we possibly finance both of them?” Just then, my brother walked up and said, “Father, I don’t want to continue my studies any more. I’ve had enough of books.”

Father swung his hand across brother’s face. “Why do you have such a weak spirit? Even if I have to beg for money on the streets, I will send the two of you to school until you complete your education.”

Late in the night, I placed my soft hand on my brother’s swollen face and said, “A boy has to continue with his studies. If not, he won’t be able to leave this life of poverty.” On my part, I had decided not to accept the university offer.

But before dawn the next day, my brother left home with a few pieces of worn-out clothing and a handful of dry beans. He left a note on my pillow: “Sis, getting into a university is not easy. I will find a job and send money home.”

I held the note as I sat on my bed and sobbed until I lost my voice. That year, my brother was 17 and I was 20. With whatever father managed to borrow from the whole village, and the money my brother earned from carrying cement at a construction site, I entered university.

One day, during my third year, a roommate said, “There’s a villager waiting for you outside.” It was my brother. His whole body was covered in dust, cement and sand. I asked why he didn’t tell my roommates who he was.

“Look at me. Wouldn’t they laugh at you if I told them that?” Tears filled my eyes as I brushed the dust from his body. He then took out a butterfly hair clip from his pocket and fixed it on my hair. “I saw all the girls in town wearing this, and I thought you should have one.”

I pulled my brother into my arms and cried. That year, he was 20 and I was 23.

The first time I took my boyfriend home, I noticed that the broken window pane had been replaced and the whole house looked clean. After he left, I danced around Mother. “You needn’t have spent so much time cleaning the house!” I told her. “Your brother came home early to do it,” she said. “He cut his hand while replacing the pane.”

I went into my brother’s small bedroom. As I looked at his thin face, I felt a hundred needles pricking my heart. I applied some ointment on his wound and bandaged it.

“Does it hurt?”

“No, it doesn’t. You know, when I was working at the construction site, stones fell on my feet all the time. Even that could not stop me from working and ...”

He stopped in mid sentence. I turned my back to him as tears rolled down my face. That year, he was 23 and I was 26.

After I married, I lived in the city. Many times, my husband invited my parents to come and live with us, but they declined, saying they would not know what to do if they left the village. My brother sided with their decision. He advised me: “Sis, you just take care of your parents-in-law and I will take care of Mother and Father here.”

My husband became the director of his factory. We then hoped my brother would accept the post of manager in the maintenance department. But he insisted on starting out as a reparation worker. One day, my brother was on a ladder repairing a cable when he got electrocuted. At the hospital, I grumbled, “Why did you reject the offer? A manager wouldn’t have to do dangerous things and risk serious injury. Look at you now.”

With a serious look, brother said: “Think of brother-in-law. He has just been promoted. I am almost uneducated. If I became the manager, what would people say?”

My husband’s eyes filled with tears as I cried out: “But you lack in education because of me!”

“Why talk about the past?” my brother replied as he held my hand. That year, he was 26 and I was 29.

My brother was 30 years old when he married a farm girl from the village. At his wedding reception, the master of ceremonies asked him, “Who is the one person you respect and love the most?” Without hesitating, he answered, “My sister.” Then he went on to tell a story I could not even remember.

“Our primary school was in a different village. Every day, my sister and I walked for two hours to and from school. One day, I lost one side of my gloves. My sister gave me one of hers. When we got home, her hand was trembling so much she could not even hold her chopsticks. That day, I swore that as long as I lived, I would take care of my sister and be good to her.”

Applause filled the room and every guest turned to look at me as I stood up. “In my whole life, the one person I would like to thank most is my brother.” And on this happy occasion, in front of everyone, tears rolled down my face once again.



  1. Wow , this one makes you cry and smile at the same time.

  2. yeah, it's my all time favorite. glad you like it.