The din from downstairs woke me up and instantly I knew they were at it again. It was already midnight and I was worried that the yelling and screeching would wake the neighbours up. It wasn’t the first time and sadly it will not be the last.
I flew downstairs only to see the back of the older brother disappearing into the cold night air. I called out his name but to no avail. He’s gone and will not be back until he gathers enough courage to come back again.
He left home some months ago, after what I believe, was one of the most heated of sibling altercations. Jealousy has a lot to do with this. Taking sides. Camps. Whenever there was a quarrel, the sister just sat and watched. The youngest brother pretended not to see.
This problem of sibling rivalry saddens me a great deal for they used to be so close, almost inseparable since birth. Then they began to show their claws and true colours. They all seemed to gang up against him. The fights became more frequent. And one day, he left. The few times that he came back, he was more like a stranger. He’d walk in, look around and walk out again, as if the place, which saw them playfully rolling on the sofa, on the carpet, didn’t mean a thing to him. The others would watch him scornfully; ignoring him completely. Or if they felt generous, they’d give him a contemptuous scowl.
There were times when he’d lurk outside the gate, mustering enough courage to walk in. But the front door was as far as he’d get.
So, the homecoming became less frequent. That is, until recently.
We’ve never shown any favouritism. But they fought for attention and affection.
I sense that he really wants to come home. His wandering days are over and he’d want to make amends with his siblings. But the return of the prodigal son recently was such a sorrowful event.
As soon as he made a cautious entrance through the flap, Tabby who was sprawled on the floor, sprang to his feet with such a meow that caused his brother to make a hasty retreat. The jealous streak in Tabby was so unbecoming but of late he has been so territorial and possessive, especially of his master. Only he has the place on his chest, purring away contentedly. Only he can sit on his lap while he types away at the computer. Only he can laze on the prayer mat while waiting for his master to finish his prayers. His brother’s return would certainly be seen as a threat.
When they were small, we called them the Kray Brothers, after the infamous East end duo. Then when the older one left home, we called the younger one Tabby. Then one day, Mary, our next door neighbour mistook Tabby for Stanley. That was how we knew Tabby’s brother had taken refuge in a neighbour’s house. That’s how we knew he was called Stanley.
Stanley knows that the flap of our backdoor is always open to him. There will always be a bowl of milk and a tray of Whiskers whenever he feels like coming back. We still love you, Stanley Wan.
Pillow Talk and Impossible Dreams in A House Divided