Sim and Mark

A benefit of social media like facebook is birthday reminders. So yesterday morning I was quick to wish my sister a happy birthday. I thought about what I wanted to say and was able to then quickly transmit those thoughts – almost instantaneously.

My sister is the “steady Eddie” of the family, or whatever the feminine equivalent is. She is the one consistently, steadfastly and unassumingly by the side of my parents, particularly my mother (even when my father was still alive).

Sim is 3 years younger than I. Her husband Daniel is the livewire of family events. An antique dealer, I once bought a really nice period piece of an Omega De Ville from him. “Bought” is a stretched term as what I paid him for it probably meant it was practically a gift from Daniel. Sim and Daniel live on Penang Island with their 2 kids. One often hears stereo typed remarks about Penangites being tight so maybe Daniel isn’t a true Penangite in that sense because he is often generous to a fault. Generous as he is, what comforts me is his very obvious love and devotion to Sim and the family.

Nicole is an intelligent and determined teenager. They visited Melbourne in 2010 (or was it 2009) when she had finished her primary school with a straight A’s assessment and we gladly rewarded her with an Apple iPod. We rarely have the opportunity to spoil them so it was the least we could do. Before we moved to Melbourne, we would visit Penang regularly. Nicole was a young girl then and I remember staying at the Park Royal in Ferringhi Beach, looking out a window with Nicole to see hot air balloons coasting the beautiful beaches. I said to her those were “hot air balloons” and I can still hear her mimicking me as she pointed at those balloons. I hope that image of her pressing her face against the window and pointing at those balloons, would never be erased from the every forgetful mind of mine. I now see her on her facebook pages, blossoming into a confident young woman. I’m very proud of her.

Isaac is Nicole’s younger brother and he too finished primary school with a flourish and we rewarded him in the same way, just as I promised when we gave her sister her reward. He’s a lovely, loving and lovable young man, with a low almost husky voice. When he was younger, he was sometimes teased with a “lau lang” (old man) moniker. Ticklish in so many ways and emitting a hearty laugh when tickled, his “Despicable Me” cover photo for his facebook page is thoroughly appropriate. He’s now at the venerable Chung Ling High School, one of the most prestigious schools in Malaysia which regularly produces top performers in public examinations. I’m very proud of him.

A schoolteacher, Sim’s facebook pages are often postings by her students who obviously love and adore her. Maybe her consistent and steadfast manner are by-products of her devotion to those around her, including her students. She is the embodiment of everything one would extol about Confucianism. What a loss it would be to Penang and Malaysia if she and Daniel were to move to Melbourne, but what gain to people here.

I miss Sim and her family. She has done so much for mum and everyone else. My brother and his wife visit them often and when they do, we are treated with pictures of their adventures – all on facebook of course. They were there recently and it was truly a treat to view those photographs. The modern day scattering of families to different corners of the globe has been made easier by the ubiquitous postings of local events on the global media. For all its ills, facebook has done wonders in this regard and I am so grateful.

Happy birthday again Sim, and thank you Mark Zuckerberg.