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A Fish Test


I came back home shocked to find out from my mother that my brother was actually going to bring a date back home tonight.

I had never known my brother to be eligible to anyone. He had always struck me as a nerd who had his head in the books, have geeks for friends and couldn’t care less about the female species, as he put it.

Mother said my brother is still a man after all, and that I’m being mean.

When I asked, Mother said she has yet to meet him even though my brother has technically dated the girl for more than 6 months now. Being the over-zealous woman she was, she claims to know the perfect way to test and see if the girl was good enough for her little boy.

That was when I saw the fish she was cleaning.

It was quit huge, with a hint of earth colour on the skin. Looks almost like a fresh water (or was it salt water that has this colour?) fish. The only difference was that it had a slightly protruding belly, like it was female and had eggs or something.

Mother told me that this fish was one of the Chinese’s most favourite delicacies not because of the flesh, but because of the stomach within. The tender overflowing juices within the fish gut were enough to make any family member fight to the death for it, and the Chinese hawker who sold her the fish told her that this fish was the best way to test a person’s heart.

If, during dinner, my brother’s date aimed for the flesh on the first pick, she is considered a good-hearted person, whereas she would be considered selfish if she aimed for the gut first, and from there Mother can determine whether or not she was right for my brother.

I have a feeling she knew beforehand that my brother’s date was a Chinese.

Later that night, my brother came home from college to introduce his girl Suzy to us. She was quite pretty—her hair dyed a little to resemble a slight redhead and almond skin. She had all the makings of an American-born Chinese, and she almost kinda reminded me of the Chinese-version of Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, since she had that odd intelligent look on her.

A brawn with brains. No wonder my brother was into her.

Though she still had to pass Mother’s test.

The dinner was pretty alright. Suzy was quite jovial and got along well with my folks and answered everything they asked good-naturedly, even the slightly awkward ones. My brother, on the other hand, looked like he was trying to hold it together and stop himself from shitting his pants. You could tell he was nervous, especially when he knew Mother’s over-zealousness all too well and was waiting to see whether the anvil was going to fall on his head or not.

Then later I noticed Suzy seemed to have noticed the fish. I could tell from her eyes that she knew what that fish was and what to do with it.

It was the moment of truth.

Without a second thought, she reached over and forked out the rather huge and tender-looking gut from the fish. I feared the worst as my mother’s eyes seemed to have shine with eagerness at the thought finding every flaw she could on Suzy before sitting my brother down and convince him to let Suzy go.

And I know by living under the roof of this house for 15 years how convincing Mother can be if she wanted to. She should be a lawyer instead of a housewife.

Unexpectedly, instead of taking the gut for herself, she took it straight to Mother’s direction and placed it on her plate instead, and with a smile on her face, she looked up at her.

“Your cooking is wonderful, Mrs. Kingsley, but you don’t have to go all out on my expense. You can call me over next time and we can cook together. I’d be glad to help out.”

Today, she is now not only my mother’s best friend, she is also my mother’s daughter-in-law.

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