KUALA LUMPUR - Tears flowed unabated as Maria Chiteradewi Oaland wrapped her arms tightly around her long lost elder sister in an emotional reunion at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The first words she uttered to Muniammal Thambusamy when they met for the first time in 53 years were: "I've been looking for you all my life."
Also at the airport to greet Chitera, as Oaland is fondly called, were Muniammal's daughter Lakshumy, 28, son Ganessan Kumar and his wife Yeo Wei Sze, both 30.
The hugs and kisses were a prelude to a meal of Chitera's favourite putu mayam at Muniammal's home in Puchong.
Muniammal, 60, said she couldn't wait for her two brothers - Subramaniam (Mani), 58, and Karuppiah (Segar), 57 - and their families in Ipoh to meet Chitera, 56.
"I'm so glad she's here because my Mani is very ill and it is his wish to see his baby sister," said Muniammal, affectionately called Muni.
The siblings separated when Muni was seven and Chitera, three. Their mother, Mabel, took the younger daughter away while the three other siblings stayed with their father, a driver in the police force.
After his death in 1968, Muni and her two brothers were taken in by their paternal aunt and moved to Sungai Siput. At 15, Muni left home to work in Kuala Lumpur while her two brothers stayed put in Ipoh.
Chitera (born Chiteradewi Thambusamy), now lives in Stavenger, Norway. The saga of the long-lost siblings broke the hearts of readers, when The Star ran a story on May 15 about Chitera's search for her loved ones in Malaysia. She last tried to trace them in 2012.
Her search ended when Ganessan contacted the paper to say Chitera's siblings were alive and were looking for her, too. His elder brother Raj, 32, said his family made three unsuccessful attempts to trace Chitera through the National Registration Department and via Tamil radio stations.
Lakshumy said she came across the story of Chitera through Star Online.
Muni and Chitera are grateful to the paper for reporting on their search for each other. "This is a gift that is so priceless."