Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily
SELAMA, Perak -- During the olden days, having sons was a prerequisite for many a family. However, The Eng family was contented with the ten daughters bestowed to it.
The Engs did not feel ashamed nor disgraced for having so many daughters. 74-year-old Jiang Han Rui and her late husband Eng Zhao Liang were proud to have been bestowed with so many lovely girls, knowing that they were the precious gifts from God.
Fortunately, Jiang did not give away any of her daughters to eager adopters at the very beginning, or she would be denied of the great bliss of a bountiful family.
Her daughters are Mei Er (54), Mei Juen (52), Mei Jiao (51), Mei Ping (47), Mei Ting (47), Mei Di (46), Mei Lan (45), Mei Qi (42), Lai Ji (38) and Zen Yi (34), among whom Mei Ping and Mei Ting are twins.
Mei Juen and Mei Jiao recalled the moment when they were notified by their fourth sister that their two youngest sisters were to be given away to people for adoption. Without hesitation, they skipped the class and rushed home to rescue their sisters.
"As young girls, we did not know from where we mustered our courage. All that we wanted was to protect our sisters."
Thanks to the solidarity of the sisters, no one was taken away from the family in the end.
Mei Jiao said the most unforgettable event was when they were humiliated by their neighbours who were betting whether the unborn baby in their mother's womb was going to be a boy or girl.
Living in a small town, the fact that the Engs gave birth to so many daughters became a laughing stock among the local residents.
Jiang admitted she was totally upset with people poking fun of her family, and was determined to provide the best ever education for all her children.
"Mom was the Empress Dowager of the house and no one dared to disobey her orders while dad was a gentle and caring man," said the children.
Good relationship with father
The relationship between the father and his daughters had been great since the children were very young. They would keep writing to their father even though they had to go outstation for studies.
The ten of them took turns to look after their father who had to go through dialysis for eight whole years before he passed away.
Jiang also felt grateful to her parents-in-law all the years.
"When I was suffering emotional downturn, my mother-in-law would continue to encourage me. I was moved by her sincerity and her great love towards all my daughters," she added.
Bringing the girls out could be an embarrassment for Jiang because the kids would tend to create a lot of noise. As if that is not enough, it was tough to bring all ten girls out at the same time. As a result, the children could only be contented with playing around in the village most of the time.
"I'm grateful that all my children have been very well-behaved and the older daughters have offered to help take care of the younger siblings, thus relieving much of my burden."
Treasure moments together
Since the ten sisters are now living in different towns, they would treasure every moment they spend together, especially during Cheng Meng and Christmas.
"We would come back to our old family house for reunion even though we know we have to put up the night in the living room due to not enough rooms for so many of us," said Mei Juen.
From time to time, the sisters would go on local tours meant for only the ten of them, excluding their husbands, children or even their mother Jiang.
Mei Er and Lai Ji currently live in Penang, while Mei Juen, Mei Jiao and Mei Di in the Klang Valley, Mei Ping in the United States, Mei Ting in Johor, and Mei Lan, Mei Qi and Zen Yi in Singapore.
Their mother, who now has 17 grandchildren with the eldest 29 years old and the youngest 7, would take turns to live with her daughters.