Sibling rivalry of the loving kind


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 10 Feb 2019

Revelling in their rivalry: Asher (left) and Reuel posing with their IGCSE results at their home in Gelugor.

GEORGE TOWN: It feels like the song He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother was written for siblings Reuel and Asher Rajah.

Reuel, 19, and his 17-year-old brother Asher, are not above sibling rivalry as they always try to outdo each other in school exams but when Reuel suffered a relapse in 2012 after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2008, it was Asher who saved him.

Asher was a match for the stem cell transplant his elder brother needed.

“Our prayers were answered when doctors found the perfect match for the transplant in Asher.

“Without much thought, Asher agreed to the surgery,” said their father Assoc Prof Dr Andrew Rajah, 52, of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Asher, he said, was happy to have helped his brother who urgently needed the transplant to survive the relapse in 2012.

As for Reuel, he beat cancer twice to excel in his studies.

This despite having lost the sight in his right eye after the relapse in 2012.

Dr Andrew said Reuel took a two-year break from school to fully recover and resumed studies in 2014.

The brothers recently aced in their International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examination.

Reuel scored 4As for Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics, 1B for Additional Mathematics as well as an A for the GCE O-Level English Language paper.

Asher got 7As for Accounting, Business Studies, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Additional Mathematics as well as an A for the GCE O-Level English Language paper.

“I am proud of both my boys for their wonderful achievement, especially Reuel for not letting his illness stop him from going after his ambition,” said Dr Andrew.

He and his wife Karen Rubella Alfred Mani, 45, a company administration officer, had prayed fervently that God would show them the way when their elder son fell ill.

Reuel wants to be an archaeologist, while Asher’s ambition is to be a scientist or an engineer.

“For now, Reuel has decided to take a year off to work part-time at probably a 7-Eleven outlet near our home before pursuing his pre-university studies,” Dr Andrew said.

“We have registered Asher at INTI International College Penang for A-Levels which he will start next month,” he said in an interview.

Reuel, who enjoys photography and has a knack for origami art, said he loved challenges and wanted to try out new things.

“I am not that studious but I do pay attention in class.

“I suppose we should not only follow our heart, but must also follow our mind to be successful in life,” he said.

Asher, who loves playing the guitar and solving the Rubik’s Cube, said he too paid attention in class and did not believe in studying at the last minute.

Both Reuel and Asher said they hope to be an inspiration to their younger brother Joses Ethan, 13.

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