Memory.. Little threads that hold life's patches of meaning together. ~ Mark Twain

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Striking A Relative Off The List

As the wedding date draws nearer (4 months away, actually!), it's time to really look into the guest list. Who to invite, who to exclude. Due to the limitation of seats and what's more, we will be doing a joint dinner, we will only be inviting people close to us - relatives, friends and colleagues. None of those Hi-Bye friends. None of those "your great grandmother's sister's son's children". Not even parents' business clients.

As much as it's gonna be a much close-knitted affair the way I'd want it to be, I will never be fully happy. I will not be able to share my big day with all except one of my grandparents - Mum's stepmum, Po Po whom Gong Gong married with years after Butterfly Po Po passed away when Mum was in her teems. I will also not be able to share my big day with a dear aunt and her family.

Mum's eldest sister, Big Fish (loosely translated from Mandarin's "Da Yi") was Mum's closest sister and my closest aunt. She'd gather all their siblings and families to hold birthday celebrations for Mum. She'd take care of me like her own daughter. Sis and I would be so close to my younger cousin brother, Cheeky. So close that Mum would let him bunk over during the weekends or come over after school and she would make him learn up his Maths. Sometimes Sis and I would go over to Big Fish's place to play. I remember the days when Cheeky would pull out a huge fallen banana leaf - He'd let Sis and I sit on the leaf, he'd pull the leaf by its stem, and run across the garden. It was so hilarious! We would feed his bunnies with so many carrots, or listen to his Kopy Kat Klan cassettes.

Big Fish's husband, Snake were business partners with Gong Gong. During Gong Gong's final days, Snake, the one person Gong Gong trusted his business with, played him out. All the sweat and blood Gong Gong had poured onto his business ended up in ashes. Snake even sold off the office building and kept the profits. All that's left now is a dingy office lot in the building with only 1 staff (super loyal since she started working for Gong Gong) and the business is barely surviving because of the very few loyal clients. It can practically "close shop" anytime now.

There were many disputes going on within Mum's family - Snake and the fact that Big Fish 'betrayed' Gong Gong and her siblings by choosing to stay with Snake. Add to the fact that Snake had a mistress yet Mum and her siblings never understood why couldn't Big Fish leave him and start a new life. The siblings living abroad stayed on the fence. The ones over here, including Mum, cut ties with Big Fish and her family. It's been almost 10 years now, we've only heard of them through the fence-sitting siblings but we've not met them. She wasn't invited to any family gatherings - reunion dinners, birthday celebrations nor weddings. The older generation caused the war, yet it's the younger generation who are affected the most.

Time after time, I'd try to talk it out with Mum, to ask her to forgive Big Fish. She herself kept telling Sis and I that we are sisters, that blood is thicker than water. Then why the heck is she not doing that herself? Maybe I'm still too young to understand their issue, but I really don't understand why can't they make amendments, forgive Big Fish and her family, live happily ever after like how we all used to be. I mean, no matter what had happened, she is still Mum's sister, she is still my aunt, isn't she? Must that ending exists only in fairy tales?

As much as I'd love to, I'm not allowed to invite them to my wedding. I'm not allowed to offer her tea and say, "Ah Yi, yum char". I so want to drive over to her place to hand her the invitation card without being literally killed by Mum. I want to tell her that I miss my favourite aunt. The only consolation I had was to track for Cheeky in Friendster and correspond with him through it.

I have no choice but to strike her off from my "wish guest list". What can I do to be able to re-bridge the relationship yet not 'betraying' Mum and her siblings? Mum had, at various times, objected whenever I brought up the issue of "thinking of visiting Big Fish myself".

What can I do?


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