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Being a Girl in a Son Preference Clan
Being 5 was all about my mother being pregnant. I cried for the promised puppy, but they insisted that I would make a good sister.
Being 8 meant my family would fly on vacation without me. I whined about being left behind.
Being 10 I learned to do dishes and keep my mouth shut whenever screams and cries broke out, but I was always there afterward to calm my parents while my brother stormed off to his room.
That I did a thousand times.
Since 2011, I had been warned by distant relatives to treat my brother well, nagged by grand-parents to accommodate my brother’s behaviors, and replaced as the main object of interest. Young and innocent, I was determined to have none of it. However, the world refused to be simple and beautiful like I imagined.
My complaints garnered responses, but not ones I desired. “Let go,” they were out, “you never cared. He is your brother, six years younger.” I blinked. I will never forget the coldness in their eyes, their departure. Crimson splattered over my innocence and froze me in sophistication.
I watched her stop crossing her arms, pull out the left, and lend it to my brother.
Then she did her lip twist and did something with her mouth – once, twice. And they were like, “You enjoyed 6 years of exclusive love and total attention; he can only have half. You are 6 years older, yet you are still that selfish, spoiled kid who can’t even learn to love her brother.” Hand in hand, they span forward, and that was left to me were the shrouding dust covering their path.
If my family was ever to choose between my brother and I, it would, and must be, my brother.
The former cutie pie hated her brother. I hated the love he had, the attention he gathered, and the fact that my relatives believed he was much more intelligent. “He is going to be a star one day,” they said, “the only heir of the Wang family.” The only heir. I was right next to them.
But what I didn’t know was that when the largest storm in eleven years broke out, I would storm in and find my brother crawling under my bed, then crouching at the darkest corner, tears and snots muddling down his cheek and shirt. He lost one of his slippers.
He was messy. I was stunned.
This was the most heart-wrecking event I had ever seen, much worse than The Titanic. And at that moment, I understood something – this, all of this, was never my brother’s fault.
He did not do anything wrong. It was not his choice to be my brother. It was not his choice to be born in my family where he had to share half of his parents’ love with his sister. If he had a choice, he would have landed at a lovely couple’s house and enjoyed his private, singular love. It was very wrong of me to blame him for everything.
Nor was it mom and dad’s.
This phenomenon is not uncommon in my country. Carved into the bone is the bias toward the young simply due to age and size difference and the pride of having a boy. Gender supremacy dominated every stage of human life, chaining the inferior to household duties and training them for mechanic obedience. Even under the halo of a new, international city like mine, the old, conventional ideas still linger, still haunt, where the sole response to such treatments is to submit to and adapt.
And this is not right.
I was eleven, yet this realization left me stunned and scared. The whispers in my ears, the beats in my heart, the roars in my brain all resorted to one word – change.
Sweating, I rolled under the bed, pulled my brother out, and hugged him tight. I covered his ears with pillows and blanketed his shivering body. I told him all about mom and dad and described how they would love each other once again after the fight. He looked at me, eyes wide open but too scared to come out. So, I whispered, “Hey, we can go through this together. I’m sorry about before…would you forgive your sister?”
He started crying again. But I was pretty sure he nodded half-covered in the blanket.
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