The best of friends, the worst of enemies – a story about a family feud
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 have 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 about how Uncle Seng could be his father’s favorite 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 cat’s curiosity.
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 feted!
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 favored 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 favorite 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 is 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 realized 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 friends.”
Chuan smiled sheepishly, “That was our quarrel, not theirs. Hock, I wasn’t fooled either !”