'N' Level student-inmate from institution TM1
That moment, everything stood still. Emotions started to engulf my heart with grief. As I stood rooted to the ground, I felt the prison officer’s hand gripping my shoulders, encouraging me to be strong. With his own voice, filled with sympathy, he asked me if I wish to go and see my father. Such a simple question was so hard for me to answer. I just nodded my head in response, still trying to absorb what the officer had told me. I was informed that my father had a massive heart attack and is in the Intensive Care Unit at the National Heart Centre. Taking the doctor’s advice, my family have requested my presence as they have decided to take my father off the life support after all his vital organs have ceased to function.
I was rushed through the prison’s security measures. My hands and legs were shackled to minimize my movements. Never did I ever imagine seeing my father under these circumstances. No son would wish this undeserving farewell gift for his own father. I was brought into the awaiting prison van and subsequently took off on what felt to be the longest lamented ride of my life.
During the journey to the hospital, memories of my father started to dance in my mind. My father held three jobs to provide for us, but he never once complained about it. He showered his seven children with his unconditional love. As the youngest among my siblings, he doted on me. I remember his eyes glinting with joy as I passed my PSLE exams. I saw his face beaming with pride as I got enlisted in the army. But all those halcyon moments were short-lived when I first got convicted and was sent to prison. The once proud face portrayed disappointment and agony upon seeing me incarcerated. He always advised me about making the right choices. Unfortunately all of it went into deaf ears. I believed that he had given up on me after numerous times of being incarcerated. But little did I know that my father never gave up; even in his final moments.
Upon reaching the hospital, I was directly brought to the intensive care ward. Even till that point, I had a glimmer of hope that all this was a dream. But that hope vanished only to be replaced by a stifling wave of remorse as I saw my family at the entrance of the intensive care ward. All my family members came to embrace me, everyone displaying sorrows in their own ways. Finally, my eldest sister came, hugged me and took my hand leading me to our father. The moment I dreaded all my life finally arrived.
Entering my father’s room, I saw him entangled by a web of wires and tubing, connected to various medical equipment. With tears threatening to fall, I walked to my father’s bedside and took his fragile hands in mine. His hands felt cold and withered. Deep in my heart, I knew my father felt me. My heart was pleading with him to forgive me for all the heartaches I have caused. I was always the son he loved most. He never once has any regrets in bringing me into this world. I did not want him to leave me yet, but liberating him from this worldly suffering was the only right to do. The doctor came in and informed us that it was time. Everyone started to clear the room. As I reached the entrance, my heart filled with melancholy, I whispered my final words to my father, “I love you, Dad. I am sorry,” and left without another word.
Choices are vital in one’s life. There is a price for every choice we make. Months before his heart attack, my father visited my eldest sister and told her that he did not want me performing the last rites to him in handcuffs, if anything were to happen to him. Seeing my sister’s face sad, he explained that he was not punishing me but wanted me to realise that because of the choices I made, it deprived me of my duties as a son. Once I understood this, he believed I would become a very successful person. Only then, he wants me to perform his last rites to him as the son he always wanted me to be.
My father was cremated on the 10th September 2016. I did not attend his funeral. I finally understood what my father was trying to tell me all these years. Learn to make choices wisely because they not only affect us but also those who love us dearly. I will fulfill my father’s final wishes upon my release, a gift to my beloved father who never gave up on me. That moment I believe his soul will rest in peace.