Now or Never
'N' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison
XX July 2013 can never be erased from memory, as though it had been etched onto my subconscious mind. The predicament that had caught up with me had set my mind cogitating furiously about the way I had been living my life. I realised that I had been taking things for granted. I had neglected my responsibility towards myself and towards my foster parents who had raised me, educated me and showered me with their love unconditionally as though I was their flesh and blood. Due to my unchanged attitude, they finally gave up their hope and migrated to Johor, Malaysia. I was caught unaware of their migration.
It was then, I thought I had lost everything, my self-worth, my self-respect, and most crucially a shelter above my head that I could call home and a family who would always be there for me.
I ended up living on my own by setting up tent at the Pasir Ris Park right behind of Costa Sands Chalet. The site I chose to camp is near to the amenities such as the toilet and shopping centre. It was a struggle, and gradually I became emotionally unstable. I blamed them for leaving me in the lurch. I became angsty and thus I sought trouble, and that made me fall into deeper trouble. I resorted to crime and thus I was sentenced harshly. Five years without remission was very tough and residing in a single cell unit could really disturb my mind. Therefore, then and there, I decided to change the course of my life. I realised that I cannot be sulking at the life I had led. I need to straighten myself out. It is now that I need to take charge of my life or else I would never get the chance anymore.
By the eighth month of my imprisonment, I applied for studies. I had planned a four years plan on how to sort my life out. I need to have an education, it will definitely help me when I am released: God’s gracious, I was accepted by the Prison Education Board. I started my new life back to school. I started from the very basic to build a strong foundation. I studied diligently, stayed up late to do revision, and read all the subjects to make sure that I understood it. I was so happy when I got my results. I managed to score distinctions for my English and Maths. I shed the tears of joy, and I became more confident that I would be able to proceed on to the next level, which is the ‘N’ level.
Along that time, I received a surprise visit from my biological mother. She had heard from one of her neighbours’ husband that I was incarcerated. Then she requested to visit me. As my original birth certificate was with her, it was easy for her to be the main visit cardholder. What really affects me most is that she still cares about me. I knew then on, I needed to take care of her now. This is God’s will that I lost my foster family but regain a much stronger family relation ties.
I learnt that she had a coronary disease and had undergone two ballooning surgery. Thus, she had difficulties in walking long distance. She is currently living in a two room flat with my sister with autism. This had further affected me. How will my sister know what to do if anything bad happens at home? I prayed for my mother’s prolonged life and health, and I vowed that I would not neglect her. I want to contribute back to her. I want to do good deeds, and I want her to see me change into someone who is useful to the family and the society. These thoughts further stocked up my determination to do well in my studies and life. It is now or never.
During the parents-teachers-officers meeting, she was happy with my mid-year results. To be exact she was astounded to learn that I had managed to do well in my studies. I managed to pass all the subjects and gotten 3 distinctions. She wanted me to keep up the good work. At that moment, I saw the love and hope in her bright eyes, and that gave me more strength to persevere on. I really do believe that the hard work I put in for my studies will benefit me in the future as quoted “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can be a doctor, the son of a miner can be the head of a mine, and the son of a farmer can be the president of a great nation.” (Nelson Mandela)
All the good things in life need to start somewhere. Thus, for mine, I hope it would start from now. As I get older, the doors of opportunity will not be as wide as it was when I was younger or probably that opportunity will never knock on my door again. It is either now or never at all.