‘Bring your Barbie and her sister Kelly…’ Barbie’s commercial is on television. I counted on my fingers, one, two, three… it has been already nine years since played Barbie doll with Gloria, my sister two years younger than me. My thoughts go back to nine years ago. I remember that I used to play games with Gloria. I would be the Barbie and she would be Kelly the younger sister. We moved the dolls and acted as if we were really on the street, shopping, eating, laughing. That childish game would allow us to idle away an entire afternoon. But now there are no more games, only apathy.
Like today, when I went back home and rang the bell and Gloria opened the door for me. We did not say anything to each other.
Many years ago, both of us were very quarrelsome and unyielding, yet we would always find some way to reconcile our differences. At the age of ten, something happened which caused our relationship to deteriorate. One day we walked past a house and looked inside. Unfortunately, an aggressive German Shepherd saw us and bit Gloria. At that moment, the dog’s sharp and shining teeth frightened me. I couldn’t do anything but run away and call for help. Later Gloria recovered, however, she did not talk to me. It seemed as though she were another German Shepherd, hostile and unapproachable. No matter how I explained, she did not listen. At last I got angry, too. All sense of guilt flew away. And the cold war started.
Mummy always scolds me for the conflict between Gloria and me. I have tried to apologise to Gloria and explain to her what I did at that time. She never listens, but says: ‘I only know that I have a cowardly and useless elder sister!’ So what can I do? I cannot always act as a sinner and ask for her forgiveness! I have done no wrong!
I looked at the Barbie house when I felt unhappy and aggrieved. That house, in which lived Barbie and her younger sister Kelly, was my birthday present. It stated our sisterhood. Nevertheless we never played with it together after the German Shepherd incident.
Barbie and Kelly constitute a picture of harmony. They make me jealous. Perhaps every one has his or her own story and difficulties in getting along with their family members. Some people can handle the family problems effortlessly but some of them may find them difficult to handle even though they want to solve them. However, why do a lot of people always put on a jubilant face, telling people that they are an exemplary family? I think that they are nothing but conventional people who try to construct a Barbie house that appears to be a so-called perfect, warm Chinese family. They maintain the traditional belief that a harmonious family is a kind of pride. In order to gain people’s envy, they will try to pretend to be an ideal family regardless of the amount of genuine love between the family members. All that is left is a desire to hold the family together but not a wish to solve the family’s problems. I think this kind of relationship is ingenuine, just like a Barbie house, which is very well decorated but actually made of plastic and moulded by machinery. It is stereotypical and hypocritical.
No! I don’t want such a Barbie house. I hate being a Barbie, deceiving my own conscience.
~Ivy Sun (Hong Kong)
Return to The Journey: Poems and Stories about Innocence and Experience (Asian Voices)