Today’s story comes from a suggestion from Kit. Sorry about the misleading title post. The title of this post was her idea which I decided to use as the name of this post. The story however is just plainly called “Imōto“ which is little sister in Japanese. It’s a story about the relationship between an elder brother and his little sister.
It’s been three sleepless nights. I lie on my bed staring at the ceiling while my iTunes plays Patti Page’s “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” or the umpteenth time. My mind wandered as the melody kept looping through my ears. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep, a soft knock was heard on my door. My mind automatically blocked out the knocks and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up abruptly in the middle of the night. Patti Page’s song was still playing. I tried to lift my body off the bed. That song has been playing for far too long. I need to turn it off. My body felt heavy. The room was dark. Although I remembered that I didn’t bothered to turn off my room lights before dozing off. I shrugged the thought and slowly dragged my legs off the bed. As my legs reached the edge of the bed, I felt it hit something. I lifted my head only to be greeted by something warm, soft and tender on my lips. Everything after that went black.
I woke up with a headache. It was a late Sunday morning and the sun outside was blazing hot. My iTunes have apparently stopped playing. I don’t remember turning the damn thing off. My left hand moved to massage the bridge of my nose between my eyes. As I walked out of my room, I was greeted by two eyes – sparkling with excitement.
“Nii-san, ohaiyo!” she squealed.
“She seemed extremely cheerful today…” I thought to myself.
I wasn’t in the mood. I entered the bathroom and slammed the door behind me. That was my imoutou, my annoying little sister. I sat on the loo trying to recall just what the hell happened the night before.
“Nii-san, lunch will be ready in an hour okay?” came her voice from the other side of the door after a knock. I nodded to myself in response to her question. I heard her walk off towards the stairs.
It was already noon and my headache isn’t getting any better. I turned on my computer hoping that after watching a couple episodes of Castle would make me forget about the damn headache. My computer of five years was taking its own sweet time to boot up. It was about time I upgraded it anyway. As my desktop started to load, I saw the most terrifying sight I’ve seen in months.
I stormed out of my room. “God damn it, Kitsurin! You’ve been messing with my computer again! What’s with the damn wallpaper?” I screamed. The insides of my he’d was pounding against my skull. The feeling was horrible.
I walked towards the kitchen, confronting my sister. “What’s with my wallpaper?” I repeated trying hard to withstand the pounding that’s happening inside my skull.
“B-b-b-but it’s Rainbow Dash!” came the reply. I let out a disappointing sigh.
“You were in my room last night, right?” I asked her with a stern face.
The kitchen fell silent for a moment. Only the sound of soup boiling in a pot on the stove could be heard. Her eyes wandered the kitchen, as if trying to avoid eye contact with me. Somehow, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her when she does that face.
“Last warning, okay?” I said. She nodded. I could see tears starting to swell up in her eyes so I left the kitchen. I felt guilty for bursting out at her like that. I’m not usually this cranky but the past three days wasn’t exactly all rest and relax. Plus, this headache isn’t helping.
Lunchtime was awkward. Kitsurin avoided all eye contact with me. I decided to break the silence.
“So, um… Ever wondered how dad was doing?” I asked. Kitsurin shook her head.
Our dad left us when Kitsurin was about three. I’ve never heard from him since. Kitsurin barely knew him. Mom took the task of raising us on her own. She died five years ago. I was twenty three then. Kitsurin’s only about a couple of years younger than me. She’d cook, she’d do the dishes, she’d even do the laundry and I’d take care of the bills and grocery. That’s how our lives have been since our mom died.
Days passed. Nights passed. It was about half a week since my late night incident. I knew Kitsurin kissed me on my lips that night but I decided not to confront her about it. But as the nights went by, these “late night visits” became frequent. I decided it has to stop. It just wasn’t right. That night, after a late-night gaming session I went to Kitsurin’s room. I found her in the corner of her room crying silently.
I barely understood her words. She lunged and grabbed me tightly and began to cry uncontrollably. It felt awkward but my body acted on its own. I held her head against my chest and I hugged her. After about an hour, she finally stopped her sobbing and went to sleep. I tucked her into bed and returned to my room.
I never did had a chance to confront Kitsurin about her late night visits to my room, nor did I had a chance to apologize to her for bursting out at her earlier in the week.
Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months and still I never knew what happened that night when she cried in my arms. I never asked as I believed that my sister’s privacy should be respected. If she didn’t want to talk about it, she shouldn’t be forced to.
It was a dark and rainy morning. The sound of my phone buzzing woke me up. It was from the hospital. I was told that Kitsurin was admitted early this morning after her monthly medical checkup. I rushed to the hospital. I learned from the nurses that my sister has been placed in intensive care. My chest tightened, my heart started to beat faster. I hastened towards the intensive care unit.
I saw my sister. Lying on that bed. I opened the door and walked in.
Her eyes filled with tears, just as how it was on that night when she cried in my arms. Her face was pale. I held her hand tightly.
“What did you do, you stupid girl?” I tried jokingly to ask a question. My voice broke. Kitsurin smiled at me before telling me what happened on that night when she cried in my arms. She had been diagnosed with cancer. That was the night that she’d receive her medical reports.
“Why didn’t you say anything?!” I was obviously angry yet sad that she’s keep something like this from me. But I couldn’t blame her. I never did open up to her. Ever since our mom died, I completely shut myself in. It never occurred to me but my sister noticed. She was patient with me, my mood swings, my short temper. I learned that the cancer has already spread to her brain and she has less than a day left. My world just came crashing down. I was devastated.
“I would have paid for your surgery. You know that!” I assured her as I tried to fight back the tears. She gave me a weak smile and said “No, that money is for your wedding. You’ve been saving up since mom died. I shouldn’t use it. I just can’t!”
I wept. I cursed. I held my sister’s hand for one last time. I kissed her soft, tender lips as how she kissed mine months ago.
“I love you,” were the three words that I’ve never said to her. And now, it will be the first and last time I’d be doing that.
Kitsurin slips a piece of paper into my hand and passes on. For that very moment, I felt like a part of my soul was being ripped out from my very body. I screamed her name and those three words that I know she’ll never her from me again.
Back home, I opened the piece of paper that Kitsurin slipped into my hands. On it was a quote by Mother Teresa my sister had written down.
“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
— Mother Teresa
Just then, I noticed that Kitsurin was always smiling. Through her pain and suffering, she would still force a smile on herself. At the bottom of the paper was a link to a hidden folder on my computer. It was that very folder that Kitsurin was messing around during her frequent night trips into my room. Inside were photos of myself taken throughout the years. I noticed I never did smile once. Aside from the scanned photographs, there was a video.
I played the video. It was a video of Kitsurin, talking to the camera – to me.
“Nii-san, if you’re watching this then I just wanna say I’m sorry!” she laughed as she’s bowing toward the camera. “I never got to thank you for all the time you spent taking care of me ever since mom died.” The video continued, with Kitsurin talking about her first crush, about how she wished Mom was still with us. As the video played, tears rolled down my cheek. I never did once appreciate my little sister. The video ended with Kitsurin saying “Nii-san, wishing you and Hayley a wonderful life ahead. I’m so sorry I won’t be able to make it to the wedding.” I noticed tears starting to form in her eyes as she abruptly turns off the camera.
Ten years ago today was the day my sister died. Her room was still the way she left it before heading for the hospital ten years ago. Hayley and I are married and have been blessed with a daughter. Even though I will miss my dear sister, I can feel her love for my daughter shares her smile.