As the boy approached the house, he could see that it was decorated with standing figurines on both sides of the door. Paper figurines, which he recognized as offerings to the recent deceased. He was at a wake. As he followed his mother, they approached and got nearer to the house, he saw the slim tall man. A stranger that he last saw visiting his mother at home. His mother had introduced him as his father. He remembered walking away then, not wanting to have anything to do with the stranger.
As he approached the wake, he felt the cold wind glided across his cheek as his mother guided him to burn a pair of joss stick. A chinese custom. He proceeded to pray and bow three times as a mark of respect for the diseased. As the white candles flickered on the table, he saw a photograph of a woman placed in front of the coffin. He shuddered. A plump woman, he thought, she must have been pretty fierce when she’s alive. Mother said, “She’s your stepmother.”
He turned around, not understanding what it really meant and followed his mother to a round table where ten other people sat around it. The tall slim man, his father the stranger, was among them. Then the stranger stood up and introduced the names of all nine of them, a mixed of males and females. The boy looked down with downcast eyes and didn’t say a thing. Then his mother said, “They are your brothers and sisters.” He remembered thinking, “Oh shit, how am I going to get out of here?”. Clearly, he did not like the idea of having that many siblings having been alone for so many years.
What he didn’t know at that point of time was that these nine step siblings would be his fellow travelers in the near future and the roller coaster journey would eventually make him a multi-millionaire.