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I am...hopeless - by J.A.

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I am… Hopeless


‘O’ Level student-inmate from institution TM1 Consolation Prize


“What rubbish is this?! You can’t even get a single ‘B’ for any subjects. You are really hopeless! Your father drank himself to death and your mother god-only-knows where she is whoring now. No wonder you are their kid. After that, dump everything on others. Eh, you better wake up your bloody idea I tell you, no one is giving me a single cent to feed you and send you to school. If you keep giving me this rubbish, you can get lost from this house. I took you in not because your mother is my sister and am duty-bound. Eh idiot, this is Singapore okay, wake up money, shit money, and sleep also money. No money you die. I accepted you so that you will grow up, get a good job and start repaying all the money I am spending on you. Support me when I stop working. But if this is the best you can do, rubbish results, I think I better do something before I waste more money on you.”


I am… Hopeless


“Aren’t we bringing brother along?” “No! Only us. He is too stupid to understand places like the science centre. Your results are much better than his, so this is your reward. No point bringing him, he is hopeless, a waste of money. Let him stay at home and take care of our pet. That’s the only thing he is good for.” The house… So quiet…


I am… Hopeless


“I told you already, he is hopeless! You see now, what has he done? Every day we give him money, still not enough. Stealing as if we are starving him at home. He is bringing shame to us. Curse or take him in. Bad blood. Hopeless, good-for-nothing!”


Caught again… and this time, sent to a home for juvenile delinquents. For the two years I was there, no one came to see me. Every Sunday, I will sit by the window and watch families of other boys, bringing food for them during visits. The dustbin that I sometimes have to clear was usually stuffed to the brim with KFC and McDonald’s wrappers.


“Oi, how come you have no visits, you no family ah? Then, after release, where are you going to stay? Do you want to join us or not? Outside we have plans, sell drugs, and can earn a lot of money. One day more than thousands. Do not need to worry, my brother is doing this now. I can talk to him. But before that you must join us. Then we become family. We call each other brother. Your problem is my problem, ok? Power lah, you! Steady! We go out to make money and enjoy it!”


Hopeful…

Girls… Discos… Brothers… Acceptance… Recognition…

Not hopeless…

“Don’t run!” “Stop!”

Panting… Out of breath… Legs suddenly feel like jelly…

I cannot… Too weak…


“You damn bas****! Make us chase you and sweat! You just see what we do to you when we reach headquarters. You will wish that you were never born, you hopeless piece of shit. What’s your age, 17? And already selling drugs? Shits like you will never amount to anything in life, always be a burden on society. Better to lock you all up and throw away the keys. Worthless scums!”


Never amount to anything…


“You are hereby sentenced to eleven years in prison and eight strokes of cane.”

Legs wobbling…Could not stand… supported out of the courtroom

Eleven years… Never amount to anything… Hopeless…

Hopeless…

Never amount to anything…

Hopeless…

Never amount to anything…

Hopeless…

Never amount to anything…


“Go study?! Haha! Don’t waste your time lah, you want to go there and suffer for what? Life in prison is so tough, why make it worse? Look at your brothers, went there for just a month and they are back already. Said that it’s very strict over at prison school. Do you really think that a few pieces of paper can help you outside? Please lah, you now got criminal record leh, stop dreaming. Better to stay here and make more connections. Then next time, when released, can get better deals, make more money and enjoy!”


Yeah… Sure… And be back in here again? Continue to be hopeless and never amount to anything in life?


Eleven years in prison, ‘N’ Levels, five subjects, five distinctions.

Best among the cohort.


Hopeless…


Never amount to anything…

‘O’ levels, five subjects, five points, best among the cohort.


Hopeless…


Never amount to anything…

‘A’ levels, five subjects, completed within one year, 2 ‘A’s and 3 ‘B’s.


Hopeless…


Never amount to anything…

Accepted in Singapore Management University, School of Information Systems.


Hopeless… Am I?

Never amount to anything… Will I?


Life… It’s not over yet… It’s just the beginning…


“You are hopeless”, “You will never amount to anything in life”, “You are a burden on society”, “You think these few pieces of paper can help you outside?”, “…”.


These negative statements have been made cruelly, and perhaps thoughtlessly, by other people to me. They have affected me immensely at a point of time in my life and have led me to commit uncountable reckless mistakes. It might seem fair, for one to have been so spurned in life by fate, to be filled with resentment and misery. However, it cannot be said that I am totally without blame. I did have a part to play in my own downfall. These negative statements are, ultimately, mere words said by others, not actions that have a definite set of reactions. How I will be affected by them is solely based on personal choice. It might be said that they are external acts that are beyond my scope of control and will hurt badly, but it will only happen IF I allow them to. Aside from leading me to commit mistakes, these statements have also been, ironically, the bottomless pit where my strength and motivation were drawn from, to pull me through the darkest, most challenging period of my life.


Should I hope less or be full of it?

I am Hopeless or Hopeful?

I DECIDE

Hope is never lost, until life itself is.

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