Hock and his cousin, Huat were the best of friends. Born in the same year, Hock
was a day older than his cousin.
They were inseparable, a fact known to their
mothers who were kindergarten bosom friends. But Chuan, Hock's father and Seng,
Huat's father were sworn enemies and what was strange was that the fathers were
blood brothers, having the same father.
But their friendship was the best kept secret of the town. Even their mothers
were their allies. The two cousins behaved like total strangers in the presence
of their fathers.
Hock was curious how Uncle Seng could be his father's favourite enemy and
vice-versa. Hock and Huat tried to squeeze the secret out of their mothers but
their mothers pleaded ignorance and they really had no one to appease their
But one night Hock's parents had a visit from a China lady, dressed in
traditional blue samfoo and black trousers. She spoke a strange Cantonese
dialect but she was warmly welcomed by Chuan who started behaving like an
indulgent child. She spent a night with them and boy, was she
The next day, she visited the family house and spent some quiet moments with
Hock's grandmother who was as pleased as Punch to see her. Huat informed Hock
that she had dinner with them that same night and Seng was
thrilled to bits at her visit.
Hock and Huat could not but be intrigued by the lady's visit. It just could
not be a coincidence that she came to visit both their fathers and was treated
majestically by both of them. So the two boys cornered their mothers who
happened by a strange act of fate to be having tea the next day together.
The two mothers knew they could not wrangle their way out of the situation
and so graciously revealed the family skeleton.
Chuan was the eldest son of the first wife while Seng was the youngest son of
the second wife. Chuan's mother passed away after his birth and that China lady
was his milk mother. Huat's mother, their grandmother married into the family so
that she could ensure the growth of the clan. Altogether she had six sons and
three daughters. She treated Chuan justly. Unfortunately her husband died
suddenly of a heart attack. She was forced to take over the business and ran it
so efficiently that she turned it into a multi-million business empire. Her
household was run by the China lady who favoured only Chuan and Seng. She just
concentrated on her business. Her right-hand man influenced her to cut Chuan out
of the business and install her favourite son, Seng as the sole heir.
Of course, Chuan protested vehemently
seeing that he too had played his role in stabilizing the company after his
father's death. Even Seng tried to talk his mother out of it, an action known
only to both mother and son as Seng had to be wary of the cunning sly right-hand
man. Chuan thought Seng had a hand in stealing his birthright from him and he
was furious. He refused to talk to his stepbrother and since that day, he acted
as though Seng never existed. This was the scenario for five years until the
right-hand man died.
The matriarch realised her mistake and on the influence of the China lady,
reinstated Chuan as an equal shareholder together with the other six sons. She
held an equal share. Despite his reinstatement, Chuan did not forgive his
stepbrother and continued to have nothing to do to him.
The return of the China lady brought the two brothers together. She revealed
the truth. The old family feud ended.
The two cousins could now openly be friends, much to the pleasure of the two
mothers. Seng rumpled Huat's hair, "You didn't fool me. I knew you two were
Chuan smiled sheepishly, "That was our quarrel, not theirs. Hock, I wasn't
fooled either !"