08 August 2017


My mom could no longer walk.

Though I hated to admit this so much, this has suddenly dawned on me; my mom could no longer walk. 

It happened so out of the blue one day when she was out of the house hanging clothes. My mother was standing there hanging laundry when suddenly she could not move her legs. And no matter how hard she tried, her legs just won’t budge, they won’t even move an inch. 

My mom had to crawl on the hot cement floor to get back into the house, while she began to freak out and cry. 

Things started to go downhill from there. My mom had to use a walking aid to walk – her legs had failed her.

Watching her trying to gain steps while she walks destroyed me. Climbing the stairs with her walking aid, even when it’s just one step at a time, is a complete torture to her. Sometimes she gave up and decided to stay in the car, in disappointment of herself. 

My mom is a strong woman. 

My father was absent most of the time during my impressionable stage of childhood. I never told a single soul about this, but when I was 8, my father went to KL to work as a security guard at Bank Islam until I was 12. I used to lie about this to my friends. I told them my father worked for the bank instead of guarding it. 

True, I am saying this with a pang of embarrassment, like I wish he could have done things differently. And I was so ashamed of myself for feeling ashamed of this. He was a rubber tapper when the commodity was priced at 60 cents per kilogram. The harshness of life got to him, and he became short tempered, always destroying furniture when he was angry. He left to KL one morning, when I could not wake up from my sleep. 

I was scared of him until one day he came back for good and I realized how fragile and weak and old he was, and I was sad that I had lost that part of my childhood with him that I could never reclaim. I went to school everyday not waving goodbye to a father and coming back to a house without one. But I never felt that emptiness because my mother completed my life. 

Seeing how my mom managed the household when my father was absent is sometimes heartbreaking. With too many children, the chores were almost torture. She managed on her own. We managed to get by. My older brother and sisters went to university while I went to boarding school.

I was severely bullied in boarding school. I was homesick, a misfit. I guess nobody ever had pity on me because they all thought of me as a rich kid. I remember whenever they searched us for bringing handphones which were not allowed back then, they would always single me out first, sometimes even commenting  “I look at your face and I know you have one with you.” An acquaintance once told another friend of mine he didn’t like me because he knew that I was a rich kid. I guess I never looked poor. And for that, I had to pay the price. They took no pity on me when they beat me up. 

They had no sympathy for me when I was crying after they slapped me across the face for something that I didn’t do.  

I remember writing a piece titled ‘Who’s my mother?’ for Mother’s Day essay writing competition at school when I was 13. Unknowingly, because they never announced it, I won the competition. My counselor met me in her room and told me in private that she knew about my mother more than I ever willing to share. 

Sometimes, I feel like I distanced myself from my mother since I went to boarding school because all I ever felt like was a disappointment to her. I hated to see her cry because of me. She cried for me when I was beaten. 

She cried for me when I didn’t call her for two months. 

She cried for me when I was crying for feeling lonely.

I could never be there when she needed me. Boarding school has taken me away from her. 

I disappointed her for not getting straight As for SPM. I disappoint her even now, by not marrying yet. 

And now that she could no longer walk, I feel useless. I feel useless looking at her with her walking aid, slowly walking across the room. She couldn’t even hold a glass of water when she walks.

The doctor told us her fall 6 years back when she knocked over the full cauldron of hot oil onto her body has wrecked her nervous system and it affected her ability to walk. 

My mother has suffered her own ordeal in this world. I could only hope and pray God would grant her happiness in the next.

Mak, I'm so sorry. 

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