My niece, a humdinger of a winner …

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Family, Feel-Good, Informative, Nostalgia, Personal, Short Story
Tags: , , , , ,

I have three very lovely nieces, naughty in their own ways, but absolutely wonderful. I love this picture of my nieces, taken by my younger sister.  “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. The three wise… erm…. young ladies. If you are wondering why the caption of this post only mentioned, “My niece”; as in the singular form, that was purposely written for this post for a reason.

The Winner

If you have read my post “The Mystery of the Thorny Fruit”, you will understand why I am writing about one of my nieces.  Why or what’s so special about her?  Because, yes, BECAUSE, I owe her a story! She was the winner of my mystery riddle.  Curious?  Go read my post and check out her answer in the comment box 😀

Okay you know her name. It’s a very special and well thought name. Her mother (one of my sisters – I have 3 sisters, btw) gave her the name, “Astrid”, not because it sounds regal (although I thought it was 😉 ), but more so, because “Astrid” means “God’s strength” or “Divinely beautiful” and that “Astrid” is one of the least common names to name a baby girl in the past 100 years! You can tell that my sister wanted to be a bit different than the “boring” ordinaries, right sis? 😉

By the way, Astrid’s brother also has a very uncommon name.  I can picture another winner in the making in the coming years *wink*

Whew! What a challenge!

Writing about someone you thought you knew, is the hardest! Damn, it took me more than two years to put on my thinking cap to come up with something worth telling.

These were how she looked like when I met her many moons ago. A cutie-pie 😀

She has now grown into a lovely lady with a vision 😉

Que sera sera, Whatever will be, will be….?

When Astrid was a little girl, she never asked her mother what she will be, because she knew she will be what she becomes today. I called that “inborn” – God’s gift.

My sister told me that Astrid had Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence at 6 months old. Mmmm…..that made me wondered what I had at 6 months old.  Oh yes, I know….zero comprehension to the world of music, but mind you, a top-notch thumb sucking toddler. LOL!

Astrid’s mother used to sing her nursery rhymes and the little girl would be beating the rhythm of the rhyme on her toy drum set. Every single beat was in sync with the rhythm. For the next three years, mother and daughter sang, hummed, beat the toy drum set and later the toy xylophone.  It was not until she was 3 ½ years old when her mother decided, enough is enough.  No more toy drum set, no more toy xylophone and no more toy keyboard!

The toy musical instruments were thrust aside not because it was the end of her love for music; it was the BEGINNING of a new journey. My sister enrolled Astrid to a music class and – bingo! – The music teacher confirmed that the little girl has perfect pitch. In other words, Astrid has a gift of hearing, which gives her a natural command of the musical language.  When she hears a B (B-flat), she knows it’s a B and not a C# (C-sharp).

Astrid, my dear, whether you are aware of this or not, you are out of our normal average league.  Your soul mates of perfect pitchers include the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig von Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Georg Friedrich Händel, Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder, Julie Andrews, Mariah Carey, Céline Dion, Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Mae, and the list goes on…

I gasped and quivered at the list of roll call of honour….

And by the way, Astrid, I understand you’re currently in love with Sergei Vasiliviech Rachmaninoff. How romantic * wink*

Were you aware that your poor Aunt had to google for his wiki?  Geez… 😀

THE Piano

Here was little Astrid at the real piano of my younger sister.

Then again, this “old thing” was used gazillion times over by little wannabes.

For the record, the piano (a.k.a my kid sister’s piano) had been a white elephant in our household for as long as I could remember.  If you asked me why….erm…my younger sister preferred heading for the swimming pool rather than going for her weekly music lessons. 😀

When she was reported absent by her music teacher for three consecutive weeks, it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.  My sister was simply not interested in music.  Sports became her passion almost as soon as she started to crawl.  The vitrine at my parent’s home in Kuching is full of display of her sports trophies and acolades – badminton, tennis, basketball, swimming, field event, futsal, softball, (even) blowpipe, and yes the list goes on and on as well… We dubbed her “superwoman”  😀

My family is blessed with gifts, but fortunately or unfortunately, extremely specific to one and not the other.  You can’t win ‘em all, most unfortunately 😦

The Voice

I can croak and she can sing. A duet with Astrid will never happen. Before disaster strikes, I leave this department to the music maestro.

Astrid has sung solo, duetted, and in group in several of our family (informal) social gatherings. She was also an active member of the local Parish Church choir.

From Tickling the Ivories to Straight A’s

When the SPM (equivalent to the GCSE or the former “O” level in the UK, or the General Secondary Education (Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs [ASO] in Belgium) results were announced in March this year; Quote: A total of 9,239 out of 467,970 candidates scored excellent results (A+, A, A-) in all the subjects they sat for in the 2011 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, making it the best results recorded in four years”

Unquote: Mind you, that’s less than 2 % of the total intake. And I guess – at this juncture – you have guessed correctly.  Astrid was one of the elite few!!!

Ten subjects, ten A+ /A’s with no paid tuitions or extra classes to boot. Are you nuts, Astrid? You’re out of this world, you know, but I can tell you this, for sure.  We are very, very proud of you! Well done, dear Astrid.



Music is her passion. Everyone knows that.  She has been invited to perform piano recitals at concerts and school plays.  She was even offered a Scholarship by a renowned local Music Academy to pursue her career in Music.

Running neck-to-neck in the race with Music is Science and Medicine. You know the Yin and the Yang, right brain, left brain?

Seriously, if you – yes, YOU – had the choice, what would you have chosen?  Music or Science?  I would NOT have qualified, anyway 😦

It was probably the hardest choice Astrid had to make. Music will always remain a part of her – without a doubt – but Medicine?  She has to start from inception.

And the choice?

Med School!

She has accepted a Scholarship for her Foundation in Medical Sciences in one of the established local University College of Medical Sciences in Malaysia. And guess what?  The girl has just attained the maximum possible score on her CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) for the 1st semester examination. Yup, 4 Flat!  One down and 2 more semesters to go….

Congratulations, dear Astrid.  Slowly, but surely…a doctor in the making 😀  Fingers crossed for that full Scholarship and the University of your dream. You truly deserved it!

You have told me that I have been your inspiration. Now, it’s my turn to tell you this, “I want a part of you, Astrid – the Chopins, Rachmaninoffs, Liszts, Mozarts,…”.  Sadly enough, I was never cut out for these “guys” and never will be…  😦

Archilles’ Heel

If you are wondering why all these positive chants about my niece, and what of the contrary? Where are her weaknesses? I’m sure we all want to hear the foul-ups, bleeps and blunders?

No one is perfect, that’s for sure.  Remember this phrase?  To err is human?  Astrid is not a robot. She is as human as anyone of us.  She has her own clumsy ways, which brought to mind about the younger Astrid who was prone to dropping things.  Things seemed to slither out of her hands out of the blue 😀

Erm…. one other thing, she confessed that she is not technically savvy. Aren’t we all, with the exception of a few?  😉

The superlative qualities of Astrid have not changed the person she is. Her secret?  Very simple. Nothing fancy. Simply, carry the presence of God.

By the way, Astrid was not named “God’s strength” for nothing.

Mum knows best 😉

Have a great weekend!

See you soon.


!!Update!! Astrid continued to score the maximum CGPA of 4.0 Distinction result on every single subject she took for her 2nd and 3rd semesters respectively during her Foundation year, which earned her the Dean’s List – however – unfortunately, I had to strike-through the adjective “established” describing the University College. I was being informed recently by my sister that the image of the University College is at stake. Innocent and well-deserving students are badly hit by the school’s financial woes, which has allegedly dragged on for a year! My heart is crushed upon hearing such news. Astrid and many well-deserving students have to pay the price for the University’s “financial hiccups”. So unfair!

First the school’s fiasco, and then to add insult to injury, Astrid’s Dad passed away in April this year (Rest In Peace Brother Ong). Despite the demise of her Dad, Astrid continues to score in her exams, however, the financial burden on Astrid and her Mum and brother is twofold. I pray for that light at the end of the tunnel and that the plight of a young girl’s dream will be heard, because miracles do happen…or do they?

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  1. melharry says:

    Peju mata ku baca. Aok aku lah superwoman ya. very true lah…totally sik interested in music…but bila dah come of age rasa nyesal pun ada because sik benar-benar blajar pasal music when i had been given the chance to do so. Sigh!

  2. Nasifriet says:

    When I started writing this post, I realised how much music can mould a person’s behaviour and intelligence. Our sis made the best investment ever for Astrid even with their financial constraint. If you have read about Einstein, one of the smartest men who has ever lived, was thought to be “too stupid” while at grade school. The school suggested that Einstein get an easy, manual labor job as soon as he could as he was considered a waste of resources for the school! It was hs mother who protested with the idea that his son was “stupid”. Instead of following the school’s advice, Einstein’s parents bought him a violin. He excelled in that instrument. I wanted to make the point that Music was the key that helped Albert Einstein become one of the smartest men who has ever lived.

    Da, you have your own intelligence, which you may not have realised. You can solve the rubik’s cube (all sides) in less than 2 mins, is it?? That’s amazing! Yeah, you could have continued with Music, but it was not your interest. It’s not good to force a child, anyway. BUT, you and your sports honours!! One can only dream….

  3. stephanie harry says:

    Yes Dora, Thank you for the wonderful write-up. I was in tears. All her pictures since small bring sweet memories of her growing up. I think everyone is born with talent but only no opportunity to discover that talent or some were forced to learn when they have no interest at all. I remembered a friend from KL told me that she enrolled her child to few courses and activities only to find out that her child was very good in Art and dancing. Her child was 6 years old then. Every toddler should learn music which cultivates the left brain and helps to improve memory, attention span, reduce anxiety, improve learning ability and creativity.
    Dora, I remembered when you were younger you have a flair for art in sketching faces. If you have classes for that, I think you will be a famous artist. Julian pun sama. He learn Guitar on his own without reading music notes. If he had attended music lessons, Music will be a big impact in his life today. Our family also all talented but never make it big because no chance of doing so.

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks sis. I was teary-eyed when you told me about Astrid. It’s a Gift and thank God for that.
    You’re right, I wish I have more time with Art. I still love sketching. Will post some of these in my blog when I get there… Yeah, our brothers and their Guitars. And not forgetting, you and your dancing. What a charm. You sapu all the trophies that night… Sweet memories!

    Hugs xxx

  5. Chris says:

    Congrats to your niece (awesome job on the SPM and her first semester)! Wishing her a wonderful future! 😀

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Chris. She’s one awesome niece 😀
    We all hope and pray that she gets the “sign off” from Hippocrates 😉

  7. stephanie harry says:

    Thank you, Dora. I hope to see your work of Art. Ya pun, mesti ada time for it.
    All the best…

  8. Nasifriet says:

    Cheers, sis! It’s been a long time since I last sketched 😀 Still have some unfinished works… Yalor, needs time for this 😦

  9. melharry says:

    Leypip scored another perfect result 4flats. She’s hoping to go to Ireland to persue her dreams. We wish her well.

  10. Nasifriet says:

    Wow! Brilliant! Fingers crossed to IE. We’re very proud of her achievement. Well done Astrid!! Hope to meet you in BE one day…

  11. […] My niece, a humdinger of a winner… […]

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