My niece, a humdinger of a winner (#Longreads)

Posted: June 16, 2014 in Family, Feel-Good, Longreads, Nostalgia
Tags: , , , , , , ,

On 5th June 2014, when Mark Armstrong from WordPress launched a new series with Longreads, Introducing Longreads’ Best of WordPress, the story-telling community that WordPress was looking for the best long-form stories of over 1,500 words, I was intrigued.   Here I am getting on the bandwagon.

1,500 words sound massive. I have a few “longreads” on my blog which I thought deserved re-readings and re-blogging. I have several personal favourites and the one that goes premier on my list today – my story pick – is the one I wrote about my niece. It has been almost two years since that post. She’s 2 years older now and working on the dream she has always dreamt to become.

By the way, I have included updated annotation in blue font in the footnote of this post of some events that have occurred since I last blogged the post.

Here’s the re-blog dated Sept 19, 2012.



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 in 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?

  1. X says:

    What I would want from my own but u don’t get to choose as every child is special on their own. Hope she will achieve both her dreams & not being deter by the uni’s financially woe!

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks for the support, X. Unfortunately, the Uni is in financial crisis for the past one year, affecting staff (lecturers) and students. No gaji for the lecturers for mths! Hospital wards boh ai take students in, so no chance for well-deserving students to show their worth. Too “mahal” for my niece to get out of the Uni … Very sad lah..

  3. X says:

    Why can’t she change school?

  4. Nasifriet says:

    I’ve pm’d you the reasons…

Let me know your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s