Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
TITLE: A Tale of Four Brothers
By Edmond Ng
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The eldest, Hal, is a person of quiet composure, one who is able to keep calm in the midst of a great storm. Whenever something requires to be done, he always takes the lead, and if he encounters a problem he cannot solve, he does not share his difficulties or worries with others, but takes on himself to face the problem squarely.
The second, Elbert, is the exact opposite of the eldest. He seldom keeps his cool, and tells the world his difficulties, often complaining, cursing, and swearing, with tendencies to point a finger at others for his failures and inabilities.
The third, Franz, is one who likes to take control of all the people around him, often commanding and calling the shots. As a former medical orderly in the military force, he has acquired some knowledge of first aid and medicine, therefore, whenever there is an emergency in the family, he expects his brothers and parents to look up to him for instructions.
The youngest, Desmond, is the only Christian in the family, and he has faced much persecution for his faith, resulting in the distancing of his relationship with his parents who are staunch Taoists.
When the father of the four brothers lost his legs to diabetes and was bedridden, all of them, together with their mother, took turns to take care of him. The mother, being a home-keeper, takes cares of their father in the day, while the brothers take care of him in the evenings. The brothers were already married and living in different places when their father fell ill, so it was a difficult time each day for them to travel to their mother's place after work to take care of him. As the days became years, the brothers and the mother began to feel the strain and stress, so on one occasion during a weekend, the brothers decided to meet together to discuss how they should continue to take care of their father.
"I can no longer tolerate this nonsense,” Elbert said angrily. “I am losing many business deals because of Dad, and yet he is totally unappreciative of the trouble I'm going through in taking care of him. I have a wife and a kid to feed, and I don't think I can be scheduled on such frequent basis to meet his needs!"
"So what are you saying? Franz raised his voice and stared sternly at Elbert. “Are you expecting us to take over your duties instead?"
"No, I'm saying I can't afford the time to come here as regularly as before because I have a business to take care!" Elbert retorted in an angry voice.
Desmond looked at his brothers and remained silent, not wanting to get involved in the argument. Their mother, hearing the loud exchange of words, stepped in.
"Your brother is right. He cannot continue to keep coming so frequently because he has a business to run, and he cannot always be relying on his contractors to call the shots in his projects."
"Alright, everybody, stop arguing. I'll see how I can rearrange the schedules so Elbert need not come as frequently as we do," Hal said.
"But this is being unfair," said Franz. "All of us are as busy as him!"
Desmond agreed, but did not express his opinion. He has been working late almost every day on those days he is not taking care of his father, and his wife has been unhappy with his frequent absence.
"Maybe we should just have father placed in a nursing home. That will solve all our problems!" said Elbert.
"No, we cannot!" their mother objected. "It's as good as delivering him to his grave!"
The conversation suddenly ended when the brothers and their mother heard a noise from the bedroom. Their father has apparently overheard the argument and has become very worked up.
"I'll rather die than be sent to a nursing home!" their father blurted.
Hal quickly came near to the side of his father and reassured him.
"Don't worry, Dad. I'll take care of you if no one else does."
With that said, the schedules were rearranged, and on the days where Elbert was originally scheduled to take care of his father, Hal tasked himself to take over the duties, leaving Franz and Desmond to continue with their normal schedule.
NOTE: The story in this article is fictional.
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