Category Archives: Convent

Mail-Order Bride

The  narrative that had developed in my head thanks to my high school experience and beyond, was that the average Aussie guy was not remotely interested in me (and I quickly decided that the feeling was mutual – maybe out of a sense of self-preservation).  There was one exception though – the desperate, lonely, divorced middle-aged man saw me as some sort of mail-order bride material.

During the gap year between high school and university, having secured a full-time job as a waitress at one of the eateries in the Queen Victoria Building, I would commute to work every morning by train.   CT, who had left school at 14 and was now working with me, would join me in the commute.

There was this old Russian guy who sat by himself on the train most mornings, and he would burst into a melancholic warble – I thought he was odd, but after awhile CT and I got to talk to him.  One day, we found out he had a son in his mid-30s, a construction worker or labourer, and divorced from his Australian wife.  He had a 5yr-old child for whom the grandfather felt needed a mother figure.

So the old man offered me $5000 to marry his son so I could be a fulltime mother to his kid.

CT thought I should consider it.  I guess I could probably attribute it to my Convent school years back in Malaysia, that we were nurtured to believe in ourselves.   We had stellar role models growing up; one of our former students was a Cabinet Minister back home – we were expected to be leaders, not settle for a life of oblivion.  Even having been ignored  by the boys since arriving in this country, and with my self-esteem at rock bottom,  I was incredibly offended.  $5000 for my life? That was all I was worth?  Screw that.

I met lots of interesting characters at the Old Vienna Coffee House, where I worked – it was as multicultural as it gets.  The owner was Jewish; the managers were Greek; the staff were a  mix of Aussie, Lebanese, Kiwi, British, and one of the cooks was a Malaysian guy.  Coming from a country where the extent of my exposure to diff. ethnicities was almost exclusively limited to Malay/Chinese/Indian/Eurasian, I found all these cultural identities endlessly fascinating.

I remember the first Greek girl I had come across in high school here – I was floored and starry-eyed with being in the presence of someone associated with the Greek mythologies of old – given the right outfit, I could even see her as a Greek goddess.  Likewise with the Italians and the Lebanese (wow, you speak French?!) immigrants, unencumbered as I then was with the negative stereotypes that Australian society held towards these groups – derogatorily and collectively referred to as ‘wogs’.

At work, I became good friends with a Czech lady – a career waitress – Beata.   If these other cultures were exotic in my mind, even more so were East and North Europeans.  At some point during our acquaintance, Beata decided she needed to play matchmaker and get me hooked up to a fellow Czech friend of hers.

I was excited; during the school break after our HSC exams, I had been following tennis on TV and my favourite player was the world no. 1 ranked Czech, Ivan Lendl.  Never mind the Aussie blokes, I was going to get myself a European guy, I thought.

Beata arranged for him to come in at lunch one day and sit at one of my tables.  When he showed up, I was horrified.  Here was this scruffy, hairy guy with wild hair, in singlet and shorts, looking like he hadn’t bathed in weeks.  He didn’t look so much like my hero Ivan Lendl as he did Ivan Milat (as I was to realise years later), Australia’s most notorious serial killer (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/ivan-milat-cuts-off-a-finger/2009/01/27/1232818339450.html) – and about as old.  To be polite I did introduce myself, but he was so gruff he didn’t even make any effort to be conversational.

I remained friends with Beata but was acutely aware from that point onwards, that she probably held me to the same kind of stereotype that older white Aussies had of me – that I was some kind of worthless, submissive Asian mail-order bride good for keeping house for some desperate old loser and not much else.

Hanging out with CT
Hanging out with CT
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Runaway

Having run away from home, I headed to M’s house – I’d been there a few times prior, but it was quite a long way from the centre of town, which worked for me, since no one would ever think to find me there.  Turning up at her doorstep with my worldly belongings, I pretty much invited myself to live with her, and she welcomed me with no questions asked.   In comparison to my world, she lived a rarefied existence.  The house was palatial, and seemed almost too quiet due to its size and the fact that it was just her, her parents, her brother who was rarely home, and her grandmother.

She had her own bedroom with its own big wardrobe and even an ensuite with a modern toilet – unheard of back in those days – considering back in the Templer Flats days I’d grown up in a family of 10 sharing the one toilet, this was luxury beyond belief.

I’m not sure what her parents thought when I didn’t leave to go home that night, or the night after that, or the night after that – they were just too polite to say anything, and never at any stage did they make me feel like I’d outstayed my welcome.  I guess at that age and at that stage in my life nothing was ever thought through that carefully, but I spent the next couple of weeks living in blissful oblivion with M, gossiping like the teenage girls we were.  It was the holidays, so I wasn’t being missed at school or anything like that.

M’s grandmother did the cooking in the household, and she made the most incredible food.  I’d always been partial to Malay food, and I felt like I’d died and gone to food heaven living with M.  Somehow, even the simplest dishes tasted just divine.

I went to the bank where my stepmom had banked the money I had squirreled away all those years ago, and withdrew it all – something in the vicinity of RM1000.  Then we went to KL on a shopping spree.  I’d always thought M had the most beautiful clothes that were super-sophisticated and graceful – my wardrobe on the other hand, consisted of the typical teenage fashion of its day ie. knickerbockers, pedal pushers and shorts etc.

So we went to Sungei Wang Plaza – the biggest mall in KL at the time, and checked out local designer clothing, and I came away with several fairly expensive outfits.  We also checked out the cosmetic counters at this department store – I was ignored by most of the salesgirls who treated me with some degree of disdain, until I came to the Mary Quant counter, managed by a middle-aged woman.  She was extremely attentive and kind, and I ended up spending some RM250 on makeup through her, partly as an up-yours to the other salesgirls.  I think I made this woman’s day – she couldn’t stop smiling at the end of it, whilst the other girls looked on in envy.

After some two weeks, M’s mom finally sat me down.  She reminded me that I was welcome to stay with them as long as I liked, but was concerned about my family missing me.  And one thing she told me, that has remained with me to this day, was that she could see something special in me – that I had great potential.  It blew my mind – my whole life, as a middle child in a large family, where I sometimes wondered if I was adopted due to the lack of affection from my father – I had never had anyone tell me anything to that effect.

Then one day, my family finally tracked me down.  One of my eldest brother’s friends, Bernard, had been recruited to help find me.  He had contacted the school for a list of my classmates and progressively tried to get information from them.  The only people who knew were Fatin, Norsham and M.  Norsham was the one who finally broke (she was very apologetic to me about it later) – Bernard told her that they had exhausted all options and if she didn’t tell, they were going to report me missing to the police.  It would mean that I would get arrested if the cops recognized me in the streets, so Norsham told them.

My parents rang me at M’s house and tried to convince me to come home.  I really didn’t want to.  I had my long-distance Penang boyfriend I was hoping to visit at some point in my future.  They promised me I could go visit him if I came home.  I realised it really wasn’t feasible for me to keep squatting at M’s indefinitely, so I finally relented.  I remember the night my parents came to fetch me at M’s house.  They came in their car bearing a gift for M’s parents – a big shopping bag of oranges (very Chinese) which promptly broke as they got out of the car, so the oranges scattered all over the ground and we all comically ran around picking them up.

The handover complete, I finally went home.  I was told my brother who broke the door down got in big trouble with my dad for causing me to run away.  My dad was nicer to me than I could ever remember, which touched me deeply, though I had the dreadful feeling it wasn’t going to last, and it didn’t.

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Don Quixote

Of all the kids, I was closest to my stepmom growing up, and when I was about 13, she started to loosen the reins by granting me more freedom to take part in extra-curricular activities.  Maybe she thought I deserved to have a bit of life outside of The Odeon – she even told me I didn’t have to work the afternoon shift at the canteen if I had after-school activities on.

So I took advantage of that by signing up for a bunch of school clubs – including the Literary, Debating and Drama Society, basketball and most significantly, the school choir.

She also let me hang out with friends on Saturday mornings as long as I made it to work at the canteen before the first movie session started.

With my new-found freedom, even though we’d since moved to a house in Temiang, I spent a couple of hours every Saturday morning at the Templer Flats with friends from school who happened to live there and in that general vicinity.

We were at the age when we were just discovering boys, and I started documenting our teenage crushes in a personal diary.  They were basically swoons over crossing paths with some cute boy or spying some dreamboat at the shops or trying to figure out who the mystery guy was who sent me a note etc. – pretty lame and innocent teenage stuff.

During the week, I had choir practice; persuaded by one of my best friends, Norfatin, to audition to join, we had both managed to secure spots in the group – a high honour, since the Convent choir was one of the best in the State, and possibly the country.

We trained hard for competitions, led by excellent teachers and song leaders, and through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we bonded into a tight-knit group – that was also how I met one of my other best friends, Mona – an exquisitely beautiful girl in the year above us.

She was practically royalty among her peers thanks in part to her stunning good looks and, I guessed, to her genealogy (her family were descendants of the Islamic prophet Mohammed).

When we were in Form Three, our team, along with all the best school choirs in the country, converged on the campus of Universiti Malaya for about 5 days of practice, culminating in a TV broadcast of our singing.

Despite having chaperones and curfews, we still managed to have a ton of fun; the three of us called ourselves some goofy names including The Fantastics and Charlie’s Angels.

And we made friends with members of other choir teams, notably a group from KL, and the mostly-male choir team of Penang Free School (PFS).   I loved PFS’s dramatic rendition of ‘I, Don Quixote’ from the musical The Man of La Mancha – I still remember most of the lyrics – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYXpnFm1YRQ&feature=related ).

It didn’t take long before Mona acquired an ardent admirer, a Chinese boy from PFS – a bit dorky looking, with soulful, melancholic eyes – he wrote her some incredibly flowery poems that sounded so profound and well-written I was convinced they were plagiarized.

I think he even composed a song and serenaded her with his guitar.  One of his best friends was this other guy, Alex, who was an accomplished athlete at the national level – and he was interested in me.  It was a dizzying five days, and at the end of it, he had stolen a kiss from me, so, at 15, I had my first ‘boyfriend’.  All this I recorded faithfully in my diary.

I was brought back down to reality when we returned to Seremban.  Sometime after the trip, one of my brothers, recently returned from his overseas studies, discovered my diary and read it.  He hit the roof, and told my stepmom the contents – ie. that it mentioned boys.

I was in my bedroom at night and he banged on the door, demanding I let him in.  When I refused, he broke down the door and tried to force himself in, whilst I pushed back on the other side.  I was terrified.  Things settled down at some point, and I was allowed to go to bed.

I stayed up all night and pondered what was going to happen to me from now on.  I had evidently betrayed my stepmom’s faith in me – I had used my newfound freedom to develop an interest in the opposite sex.

I didn’t know what kind of punishment was in store for me the next day, and what constraints were going to be placed on me from then on.  I couldn’t fathom what it would be like facing the combined wrath of my dad and my brother. I felt I had only one option left – so, at 4am, I packed a bag and sneaked out of our house  – I was officially a runaway.

Choir trip at Universiti Malaya campus
1982 Choir trip – at the Universiti Malaya campus

Names

‘Hi, this is Jackie, can i speak with Joanna please?’ ‘Hi, this is Dior.  My name is no longer Joanna.  Can you call me Dior from now on?’

Joanna, aka Dior, had been a friend of a friend from Hong Kong who had offered me a break in waitressing.  I figured she must have become a fan of Christian Dior since I last spoke with her a week or so before.  It’s not uncommon for the Overseas Chinese to adopt western names.  But these honkies as I call them (yes, I know honky is meant to refer to whites) take this whole name thing to a crazy level, I thought.

And it’s not just me – just Google it and see for yourself – some first names taken from HK publications and business cards include – Lancelot, Wanky, Hitler, Churchill, Superman, Morpheus, Nausea, Raccoon, Oreo, Alien,  Princeton and my personal favourite, Chlorine.

My own adoption of a Christian name came about when I was about 12 years old.  I’d had to live with an oft-mispronounced/mis-spelled Chinese name my whole life.  It didn’t help that in a dominantly Cantonese sub-culture, most girls with my name (Min Nyok) had it spelled the Cantonese way, ie. Ming Yoke.  My teachers often struggled with it as well; calling me variously Min York or better still, Min Yuck.  From there, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to come up with one of my nicknames – ‘Minyak’ (Malay for ‘oil’).  Thanks to my chunkiness as a kid, my stepmom sometimes teased me with ‘Choo Nyok’, ie. ‘Pork’ in Hakka – ironic since I’ve always hated pork.

My older sister had just settled on her own Christian name after a couple of false starts, so I asked her for suggestions.  We’d been attending church for awhile and she came up with something appropriately pious – ‘How about Grace?’ – she said – as in, by the grace of God.  I considered it at length – it sounded relevant, and it wasn’t as if I’d been exposed to too many Western names at that stage.  In the end, I decided against it – it just wasn’t ‘me’.

I was a voracious reader of magazines at that age, and my favourite was a UK publication aimed at teenage girls, called ‘Jackie’.  I used to buy every issue religiously and would chase up my Indian newsagent when it was late arriving at the newsstand.  I even ordered back issues from years prior, which he would bundle up in cling wrap and save for me.  All the way from England.

So, I thought, well, Jackie – why not?  I was worried my school teachers wouldn’t acknowledge it since it wasn’t listed on my birth certificate, but funnily enough, they were all too happy to adopt it – I think they were frankly relieved not to have to struggle with my Chinese name any longer.

And so it came to be, that I became Jackie Tang (and not, by the grace of God, Grace Tang).  One of my friends told me once that her older sister had seen me at the newsstand – and she quoted her saying in amusement – ‘I saw Jackie reading Jackie the other day’ – if only she knew, I thought.

I was well and truly Jackie and not Nyok by that age.
I was well and truly Jackie and not Nyok by that age.

Teachers

It didn’t take long for me to feel like an outcast at my new school.  The first time I contributed to a class discussion, on my first or second day, I made the mistake of standing up when answering a question posed by the teacher.

As you did, if you were in a Malaysian classroom.  But such traditions were foreign at Fairvale, and presumably at every other school in this new country.

Darren was next to be asked a question.  Mimicking me, he slowly stood up and made a big show of pushing his chair back with his legs as he did so.  The sound of the chair legs dragging across the floor had the whole class in laughter.

Then the rest of the boys did the same for the rest of the lesson.  Even the teacher tried to stifle a laugh.  I wished the ground would open up and swallow me up.  I sat at the back of the class after that, laying low and keeping my trap shut in case I embarrassed myself again.

I noticed the students showed no respect for the teachers.  I remember the corporal punishment meted out by our primary school headmistress back at the Convent each time we got our report cards back.

It wasn’t a question of whether we would get whipped, it was a question of how many lashes we would get – and we were in the A class, so we were no slouches at our studies either.

I remember an incident when Miss Lee in 5th Grade was marking my English homework. She summoned me to her desk,  yelled at me and then instead of giving my exercise book back, she threw it halfway across the room.

All because at eleven years of age, I got “it’s and its” mixed up.  I had to take a walk of shame across the front of the classroom to pick my book up from the floor.

I sometimes wish some Australian journalists had had Miss Lee as their English teacher back in school.

I never witnessed this combination of fear and respect among the students at Fairvale.  Nothing seemed to work to get them to behave, whether the grumpiness of the History teacher – about whom the boys joked relentlessly about being a closet homosexual, or the kindliness of the Chemistry teacher, whom they treated like a doormat by loudly engaging in personal conversations while he tried to teach.

Then there was the Extension Maths teacher, who walked into class each day and wrote down on the board what exercises we were to do from the textbook for the day, then sat down at her desk to do her own thing – no teaching or class instruction provided  – and we would have to approach her individually if we got stuck on a problem.

Not a bad gig she had going there when all she had to do each lesson was scribble a few letters on the board, I thought.

Most students didn’t even bother asking her any questions – usually they’d just hit up the contingent of Indochinese guys for help – they were damned good at Maths.

The one that took the cake was my Extension English teacher,  a newbie on her first assignment who saw herself as ‘one of the guys’ by partying with the male students.

She auditioned to appear on  a TV game show once, and got the gig – Perfect Match – where she had to ask 3 questions each of 3 guys behind a screen, then pick her ‘perfect’ guy, sight unseen, from their answers.

The winner got to spend a weekend holidaying with her in Queensland, where the cameras followed their romantic exploits.  They then had to report on how hot and heavy things got (or not) on a later show.

That a teacher would engage in that kind of behaviour seemed unbelievable to me.  I’d nearly lost my prefect’s badge at the Convent when I was spotted once holding hands with my boyfriend in town after school, while still in school uniform.

They shut down lessons for the entire school for a couple of hours the next day while the teachers convened an emergency meeting to decide whether to strip me of my prefect’s badge – that’s how serious it was. Clearly I was no model student back in my day, but I can’t even imagine what they would have done at the Convent had one of the teachers gone on a TV dating show.

If I had started out miserable, I was getting more so every day.  I even started to envy the Indochinese guys – they might not speak much English, but they commanded a grudging respect for their Maths skills even from the most obnoxiously racially intolerant students.  And they were in a group, and always hung out together.  I was alone and isolated.

I started staying home from school and wrote my own sick notes for ‘chronic sinusitis’ – a fancy name for my hayfever (hoping my teachers didn’t know that was all it was) .  My parents couldn’t read or write English anyhow – and they were busy with their own long days at $5/hour factory jobs.

I even signed them myself, though in Chinese, to give the impression that they were signed by a parent. Technically I didn’t lie because the notes never mentioned either parent as the author or signee.  And I never got called on it – I don’t think the teachers or the school cared enough to get involved.

By the end of my time at Fairvale, I had missed at least 35% of my school days, compared to an average of one day a year at the Convent.  And the idea that I would sail through Years 11 and 12 because of the advantage of re-learning all the stuff from the Convent went out the window with that.

School in Malaysia

The Phonecall

I was about 2 weeks away from sitting for my HSC trials.  I guess my stepmom had heard the rumour through regular contact with one of the Tai Chi housewives back home.  Anyway, she broke the news to me.  Apparently, this lady claimed to have seen him at some event.  And he was with a girl.  And they were holding hands.  And as soon as he realised he’d been spotted, he had quickly pulled his hand away.

I didn’t want to believe it.  I figured it was just gossip by the same bunch of bored housewives I’d never cared for.  I mean, he had been so into me, it was unfathomable.  I had taken advantage of his feelings for me.   Treated him like a doormat.  Broken up with him over seemingly silly stuff.  Like the time I found out he’d watched Michael Jackson’s latest music video (Thriller) behind my back when he’d said he’d wait to watch it with me (I hadn’t asked him to wait – he’d willingly offered to do so).  And the time he told me he was heading home and to bed after visiting me, and I found out he’d gone to a party instead.  I made sure there was hell to pay each time before I took him back.   He knew how to beg and cry and I thought I had the upper hand each time.  Everyone did.

Now, with this new rumour, I didn’t know what to think.  Despite what I thought about those gossipy housewives, this somehow sounded strangely plausible.  He’d been caught out before with the other lies.  I could see him doing it.  So I rang him.  Long-distance calls were expensive back in those days, but I had to do it.

At first denial, then he eventually admitted to it.  Yes, it was some girl whose dad had recently died.  He’d been her shoulder to cry on.  And that’s how it had started.  There’s more, of course, but I won’t divulge the rest.  Bottom line – he wasn’t going to ditch her.  So I told him it was over.  He said ok.  I hung up.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  This wasn’t right – I’d expected crying and begging on his part but he’d seemed, well, relieved.  I decided he’d been let off the hook too easily.

So I rang him back.  Really gave it to him.  He cried.  Lots more talking later, he asked to keep our relationship going.  But he still didn’t want to leave her.  Even at that point, where my self-esteem was at the lowest it’d ever been, I knew that was bullshit.  I wanted nothing to do with this arrangement.  So, after nearly two years of putting my life on hold for him, it was all over.  I’d basically sabotaged my start in a new country out of a misguided belief that this knight in shining armour would come and rescue me from this hell.  What a fool I was.

To this day, I don’t know who the other girl was.  She might have been innocent in all this – maybe he’d lied to her as well – but it didn’t make me any less mad at her.  Heck, I lost a parent too, and I never used that as leverage.  I wanted to believe that he chose her because she needed him more; that she got his sympathy vote because of her bereavement; that it pandered to his protective male instinct.  Or something.

Evidently time was a great healer of wounds.  About two years later when I went back to Seremban with my younger sister, I had no problems calling him up to say hello.  He dropped in at the Allson Klana Resort where we were staying, and chatted for about 5 minutes.  I asked him about the girlfriend, and was surprised he didn’t at first know who I was talking about.  When reminded, he brushed it off saying, oh, that’s been over a long time ago now.  And no, he wasn’t seeing anyone at the moment.

Anyway, he mentioned he had just started a pest control business.  Good for him, I thought.  He’ll do alright, he’s a smooth talker – a natural salesman.  And the Hokkiens have a good nose for business, after all.  Then he left.  That was over twenty years ago and I have not seen or spoken to him since.

Apart from a soft spot for schmaltzy 80s love songs,  I really haven’t thought about that chapter in my life since those early years in Australia.

For years, I did regret not maintaining contact with my friends from Convent – I’d pretty much put all my eggs in the one basket relationship-wise and chosen not to keep in touch with them, to my detriment.  Then, 25 years after I’d left Convent Seremban, I thought I’d try to see if I could pull anything up on Google.  I hit paydirt and found a blog by an old classmate, talking about their recent 25th-year reunion dinner.   I got in touch with Mala via Facebook, and the rest is history.

Mala came to Sydney for a holiday a few weeks back, with her three teenage daughters.  We met up and I had a fantastic time taking them around town – the Opera House, Watson’s Bay, Bondi Beach, Manly Beach; they even visited my restaurant one evening.  And, of course, we had lots to talk about – catching up on those lost years of memories.   She told me about the Convent reunion the year before, and how great it was to catch up with everyone after all this time.

She said she’d been surprised how many of the girls had ended up marrying their childhood sweethearts.  She thought it was awfully sweet.  She didn’t have a boyfriend in high school; she’d been too preoccupied with school work and activities and friends.  ‘How about you?’ she asked.

‘Well, actually, yes, I did have a boyfriend’.

I told her his name.

She thought about it for a second, then a flash of recognition.

‘Is he in pest control?’

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Mala (on left) pictured with Shamshinor during our high school years.

Starting School – Seremban

I attended ACS (Anglo-Chinese School) in Kindergarten.  I’d been raised speaking Hakka within the family, and Cantonese among the neighbourhood kids.  The teacher spoke Cantonese to me.

I remember a boy, Bernard Wong, taking  a liking to me and bringing me candy every day.  We hung out.  Then one day, he started getting obnoxious.  I think he’d even been giving me money, and suddenly he wanted it all back.

I tried to brush him off but he kept tailing me and getting in my face all day.  Every time I tried to walk away, he would follow me.

I started walking around the classroom in circles, but he kept tailing me, and when I walked faster, he did too.  I finally complained to the teacher and he was told to back off.  I still don’t know what his deal was.

Then in first grade (Standard 1) I started ‘proper’ school at Convent Primary on Birch Road.  We were randomly put into classes, and I was assigned to 1B.

Between the time my older sister started school five years prior and when I began, the government had changed the medium of instruction from English to Malay.  Not that it mattered to me as I knew neither language going in.

Some of my older siblings had attended Chinese-medium schools, but at some point, mom had had the foresight to put the rest of us through English/Malay-medium schools.

My textbooks were hand-me-downs from my older sister.  There were pages that were ripped out of it, and others that were torn and missing part of the page.  Min Foong painstakingly filled out the missing pages of text and pictures with her hand-drawn efforts and taped them into my books.

I remember we were given a list of things we needed to bring every day.  One of them was colouring pencils.  I didn’t have a set; I don’t know if we couldn’t afford it, or if I just never dared ask my dad for it.  Every time we had to pull them out to use in class, I had to ask to borrow them from the girl across from me.

Unfortunately, not being able to speak English, I struggled for the right words.  I remember being confused even as I said, ‘Can you let me your colour pencils?’ – simultaneously thinking there was something wrong with the sentence, and being inclined to say ‘lend’ instead of ‘let’, but not knowing why.

Not having consciously come across the word ‘lend’, I didn’t think it existed.   There’s a lot to be said for subliminally learning stuff from our new TV, I guess.

Then came the tests.  I nailed every single one of them.  I was scoring 99-100% pretty much across the board.  I realised, at 7, after a childhood of living in the shadow of my sisters, that I had a gift.

Some kids in my class got 0%.  That was very perplexing to me.  I was taking a shower when I got home, when I yelled out to Yin-chee (‘sister’ Yin, our servant-girl who was to marry my dad) and Min Foong, ‘Can you believe some kids got 0%?  They’re so dumb!’

It seemed to me that the wrath of the heavens immediately descended upon me.  ‘How dare you call anyone dumb?!

You’re going to be the dumb one and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life!’  The verbal tirade went on, it seemed, forever.

I couldn’t understand why they were so mad, but it shut me up for good.  As I got a little older I realised my older sister pretty much sucked at school, so I took solace in the fact that she’d been mad probably because the truth had hit a bit too close to home.

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