Golly possessed a big heart. Despite Ah Moi’s best efforts, she was genuinely proudly fond of her baby sister. She thought that Keng was cute, pretty in a smiley chubby sort of way, and would make a good playmate. Golly had been an only child until Keng came along. During this period, her paternal grandmother was her main carer whilst her parents were at work.
Ah Ma loved all her grandchildren, but she had favourites – and Golly was one of her favoured ones. She showered Golly with the love and attention that the little girl craved. Golly would sit in her lap, leaning against her one single breast whilst Ah Ma read her stories. Golly adored that feeling of belonging. She hugged it tightly in her soul and vowed that she would never, ever, stop loving Ah Ma.
It was Ah Ma who taught Golly to love. She never scolded or smacked the little girl. She was never too busy to spend time with Golly. And, she never shouted at Golly to “shut up” whenever her precocious grandchild asked the usual litany of questions: “Why are the princes in stories always handsome?”; “Why did Black Ghost (one of Ah Ma’s cats) hide behind the bed?”; “Why is the moon so bright tonight?” So many questions; such a patient grandmother. Who could not love Ah Ma?
So Ah Ma also taught Golly patience. During the week, when Ah Moi was in charge, Golly was well aware that it was Ah Moi who was preventing her from playing with her sister. After all, Golly had already tried many times to approach Keng simply to stroke her plump little arms or laugh along with her gurgles. A hard push was Ah Moi’s answer whenever Golly got too close. Thus Golly’s clever mind worked out that she should only try to play with Keng when Mother was in charge. She would wait patiently for the weekends to come, when Ah Moi was not in sole charge of Keng.
One Sunday, when Mother was nursing Keng, Golly came to sit alongside. Carefully watching her mother and taking note of how Keng was being held, Golly sucked in a breath, and asked, “Can I play with Keng?” Mother looked down on her older child, smiled, and asked Golly to hold out her arms. Fashioning her arms like Mother’s, Golly reached out towards her sister. Then, Mother carefully and gently laid Golly’s baby sister in her arms. Intense joy, an all-consuming fluttery kind of happiness, engulfed the little three-and-a-half-year-old. “Mmmmmmm,” breathed Golly. Baby Keng gazed at her older sister with unblinking eyes. Meanwhile, Mother looked at her children in wonder: she would encourage the sisters to bond. As for Golly, Mother had dared not believe that her little ragamuffin could be so gentle with a helpless baby. After all, Ah Moi was always complaining about Golly’s unruly character.
As weeks turned into months, so also did Golly begin to spend more time with Keng whenever Mother was in charge. Ah Moi was not happy. She had witnessed a growing bond between the sisters and was becoming more and more jealous. Baby Keng was hers. She would not share her. It was bad enough sharing Keng with her parents, but an absolute disgrace sharing her with her sister. What could she do?