REL­A­TIVE VAL­UES

Ac­tor-pro­ducer Alaric Tay, 35, and his cousin, Keith Oh, 28, share a close bond, de­spite the fact that Alaric nearly killed him when he was younger.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - SimplyHer - BY CH­ERYL LEONG SH Rel­a­tive Val­ues is a col­umn in which a per­son­al­ity and a fam­ily mem­ber give us in­sights into their re­la­tion­ship.

Ac­tor­pro­ducer Alaric Tay and his cousin, Keith Oh.

“The won­der­ful thing is that we’re al­ways able to pick up where we left off. We’ve never fought over toys or women, though – the age gap guar­an­tees that!”

– Keith Oh

ALARIC, YOU MEN­TIONED ALMOST “KILLING” KEITH ONCE. WHAT HAP­PENED?

Alaric: I was car­ry­ing Keith – who was about one at the time – when I ac­ci­den­tally dropped him. He landed on his head; I was so hor­ri­fied that I ran away while he screamed in shock and pain.

Keith: Yes, he left me for dead. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I like re­mind­ing him that that’s a debt he hasn’t re­paid. (Laughs)

YOU RE­MAIN VERY CLOSE EVEN WITH THE SEVEN-YEAR AGE GAP.

Keith: Alaric is an only child, so he took me un­der his wing and be­came the older brother I never had (Keith has one elder and one younger sis­ter). All the cousins in our fam­ily – 15 in to­tal – are close, de­spite our ages rang­ing from the early 20s to 40s. But there are only three boys: Alaric, my­self and one other cousin, so we sort of banded to­gether.

Alaric: About eight years ago, Keith and I started a Chi­nese New Year’s Eve tra­di­tion with our cousins. After the re­union din­ner, we go out for a movie and sup­per. Now and then, we’ll also or­gan­ise gath­er­ings, like a Durian Night, to catch up.

DO YOU RE­CALL THE MO­MENT THAT CE­MENTED YOUR BROTH­ERLY TIES?

Alaric: You mean, like in a pe­riod drama where a bunch of men cut their fin­gers, “mix” their blood and be­come sworn brothers?

Jokes aside, it would have to be when Keith en­listed for na­tional ser­vice, and in­vited me to send him off at Pu­lau Tekong. It’s usu­ally re­served for the clos­est kin, so I felt very hon­oured and priv­i­leged.

Keith: For me, it was a se­ries of mo­ments when I was younger. Alaric in­tro­duced me to many firsts in my life – the first time I sneaked out at night, the first time I did some­thing risky, and the first time I went to the now- de­funct Boom Boom Room when I was 12 years old! I only fol­lowed Alaric back­stage be­cause he’d lef t some­thing in the dress­ing room after a re­hearsal, but it was still mem­o­rable.

TELL US ABOUT THAT RISKY THING YOU DID.

Alaric: I used to live near the old B ukit Timah Rail­way Sta­tion . When Keith stayed over one week­end, we sneaked out at night to ex­plore the rail­way tracks, and walked to Sun­set Way for ice cream. That was a first for me too; I wouldn’t have dared to do it on my own – that’s why I needed Keith.

(Laughs)

Keit h : There were no trains run­ning at night, but it was still very dan­ger­ous be­cause Alaric in­sisted on walk­ing along the cen­tre of the tracks, where some of the planks were loose or de­cay­ing! I kept pray­ing the en­tire way that they would hold my weight; I didn’t tell him then, but I was ter­ri­fied.

WHAT’S THE BEST AD­VICE AL ARIC HAS GIVEN YOU?

Kei t h : My sis­ters and I of­ten stayed over with Alaric’s fam­ily when I was in pri­mary school. We fought a lot at that age, so Alaric de­vised a method to re­solve our dif­fer­ences – he cre­ated a “com­plaint form”; what­ever we were not happy about, we had to write it down and put it into a folder. At the end of our stay, we’d have to take the folder home and dis­cuss our is­sues. Nat­u­rally, the folder re­mained empty. (Laughs)

But the idea be­hind it – to keep our cool so that we wouldn’t say any­thing we’d re­gret when we were emo­tional – was an im­por­tant les­son in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with oth­ers. I only re­mem­bered this be­cause I’ve re­cently en­tered into a re­la­tion­ship.

Alaric: What can I say – I’m an “un­cle” at heart.

ALARIC, DO YOU TURN TO KEITH FOR AD­VICE TOO?

Alaric: What Keith doesn’t re­alise is that he’s a great lis­tener. When­ever I need a sym­pa­thetic ear, he’s al­ways there. Keith is, in many ways, ma­ture for his age, so even if he’s never been through what I’m talk­ing about, he knows how to put him­self in my shoes.

WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN YOU WEREN’T CLOSE?

Alaric: Prob­a­bly only when Keith was a baby. When I was mak­ing my short film,

When We Were Bengs (2006), Keith helped out by com­ing to the set and dis­tribut­ing the film. He was even the best man at my wed­ding.

Keith: Alaric is busy with his own fam­ily now (he and his wife Juliet have a one-year-old son, Eli­jah), so when­ever he has the time, I’ll go over to his place to catch up over lunch or din­ner. The won­der­ful thing is that we’re al­ways able to pick up where we left off. We’ve never fought over toys or women, though – the age gap guar­an­tees that!

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