The Missing Piece in My Life’s Jigsaw Puzzle
'O' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison
I could almost taste the bile in my throat. My hands were shivering, but it was not cold. My knees buckled, and people were supporting me by my arms. It was a humid Saturday morning that I could never forget the day no matter how much I try to. As my eyes welled up with tears, I saw him. What was left of him. The person that I have been looking up to my entire life, lifeless now. Like an empty vessel. Just lying there in the middle of that solemn room.
I blink, a silver tear streamed down my cheek onto the ground. I started to sob profusely, gasping for air. I was wailing.
“You promised me you would be there for me.” Spittle flying out of my mouth as I spoke these words “How could you! How could you leave me so soon!” I muttered to myself. I was drained of energy.
I fell down to my knees. To get closer to him, to plant a final kiss. To sniff that familiar scent for one last time. But the scent was absent, there was only the smell of death. I bid farewell. “I love you, Dad.” I whispered into his ears, knowing that he could not hear me, but it felt like the right thing to do.
My life flashes – halcyon days – I was five, maybe six years old. Sunlit clouds drifted across a clear blue sky. He was pushing me on my bicycle. It was the first time I had tried riding a bicycle without the training wheels on. The moment he let go, I turned my head, with fear in my eyes I searched for him. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground, warm scarlet liquid running down my knees. I was on the brink of tears. “You have to look straight my boy! Do not be afraid, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here.” These words kept ringing in my head. “I’ll always be here.”
I snapped myself back from my reverie, hoping that it was all just a bad dream. To my sorrow, he was still there, motionless. He looked so peaceful. So at ease, as if all of the burden had been lifted off his shoulders. The crowfeet on the side of his eyes and the wrinkles that lines his cheeks are evidences of a long and happy life. If only it could have been longer, I thought to myself.
I was never known as a man of faith. However, after the death of my father, I got down on my hands and knees, pushed my face down against the ground and I prayed. I prayed for that ache in my heart to be lifted. I took my father’s death miserably. I mourned longer than I should. His passing made me feel incomplete, I felt like I have lost a piece of my life’s jigsaw puzzle.
Exactly a month after the loss, my wife approached me, with eyes glittering with tears and a beautiful smile curved on her delicate face “I’m pregnant“ she said it has been a month since I last smiled. I felt like I was walking on air. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her cheek. Like an answered prayer, the timing could not have been more impeccable. Just when I thought I was at my wits end.
Seven months later, my hands were shivering, in a room that was rather cold. I tightened my knees so they would not buckle and betray me in this time of need. It was like a scene that I had experienced before, but it was totally different. There she was, laying on the bed in the middle of the delivery room. Sweat trickling down her forehead. Blood was rushing to her face and her eyes filled up with tears. I swear she still looked as beautiful as she always does.
“Almost there now. Push!” I heard someone say. It could have been me but I could not recall.
Moments later, I heard the most beautiful sound. My heart jumped. Like music to my ears, the sound of my child wailing. “It’s a boy!” I was told.
The doctor wrapped my son in a blanket and placed him in my waiting arms. He was so small, so innocent so beautiful. A tear ran down my face and onto his skin. I planted my first kiss on his rosy cheek.
I felt a presence. I looked up and smiled.
Then I whispered into my son’s ear, “Don’t be afraid, I am not going anywhere. I will always be here.”