Sister Mai

When I was about eight, there was a period of time when I daily visited the school library on my own. In one corner of the tiny square room, there was a section dedicated to books of true stories – stories about people’s lives. Some were autobiographies of famous historical figures, some were stories written about the World War II, and some were a collection of little stories written by primary school children.

One day, while I was checking the shelf, looking for something new to read, I found a thick, sky-blue paperback. Old and worn out, the book was a collection of little stories submitted by primary school children across the country. As I flipped through the pages, one title caught my attention: Sister Mai. The name Mai was similar to my name. Intrigued, I started reading the story.,

The writer of this story was a boy in Grade 2, just like me. He had a sister 3 years older than him, whose name was Mai. The opening line was powerful.

“Sister Mai is truly extraordinary.”

He then explained to the reader about the different ways in which his sister was extraordinary. Once, for example, Sister Mai wore mismatched socks before going out, and her mother scolded her. She told Sister Mai to wear a proper pair of socks because otherwise people would laugh at her.

“Hey, look at me,” Sister Mai called out to her little brother. The boy turned to look at her face.

“See, Mom? Nobody looks at my socks!” Sister Mai said to her mother calmly. “Just now, I told my brother to look at me, and where did he look? My face! Not my feet!”

Thus, Sister Mai went out happily, wearing the mismatched socks.

The other time, the writer was playing with his friends outside and fell on the ground headfirst, injuring his forehead badly. When he ran back home, however, his parents were both out, and only Sister Mai was there.

“Sister, I’m bleeding! I’m bleeding!”

Sister Mai did not panic. With calm, she carefully examined the injury, then applied some ointment after cleaning the scar with a cotton cloth. When their parents came back, they were alarmed by the severity of the injury, and he was immediately taken to the hospital emergency room to receive a proper treatment.

Hours later, at the hospital, the doctor told the boy’s parents how lucky it was that he had such a wise sister.

“Because his sister applied the ointment right after the injury, the wound did not get infected. It could have been life-threatening otherwise.”

“Sister Mai is extraordinary,” the boy wrote once again at the end. “I’m so proud to have a sister like her.”

As I closed the book, I wondered to myself if I was also an extraordinary sister to my little brother. Had he been alive, would he also have been proud of me like this?

The story of Sister Mai stayed with me ever since.