If Only I Had Listened
'N' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison
My objective in life was to live it to the fullest. As long as I was happy, I did not care about other people’s feelings including the woman who had loved, cared and guided me since young. It had all started when father had passed on when I was only ten years old. It had brought a huge impact on my life. As a result, I started to rebel. When mother was busy working round the clock, trying very hard to put food on the table for the both of us, I would utilise the freedom that I had to do things the way I like.
Most of my pocket money was spent on beers and cigarettes. At times when I was broke, I would resort to steal mother’s money. I was seldom at home and devoted most of my time mingled with bad teenagers. I would only go home to change clothes and demand for more money. Mother reprimanded me each time and when she sensed that all her advices had fallen on deaf ears, arguments between us would always ended up with her relenting because I had threatened to leave her and run away from home. Each time, tears of sorrow would stream slowly down her hollow cheeks.
As time went by, I became more rebellious. I began to set foot into pubs and involved in drugs. There was a time when I deliberately hit her for not giving me enough money. She had no money left as she could not go to work for quite some time due to prolong fever. As if not enough with that, I even snatched the gold necklace from her neck. It was the only piece of jewellery that my late father had left her for remembrance. Her endless pleas for me to return it were in vain. It was as if a demon had possessed my mind. I would do anything to satisfy my ‘drugs’ crave. At last, without even the slightest hint of pity, I left her in her state of utter desolation and depression.
After partying blissfully for several days, I went home. While I was opening the door, my ears caught a piercing sound like glasses being smashed to the ground. I rushed in and was startled to find mother sprawled on the kitchen floor adjacent to the refrigerator where its door was left wide open. There was a half broken glass in one of her hands and fragments of broken glasses scattered around her. “What had happened?” I asked myself, trying to figure out the situation. When it had finally dawned upon me on what she was actually trying to do, I felt like the whole world had crashed down on me. The sight of her frail body jolted my senses. Witnessing her pale and tear-stained face really tore my heart into pieces. “How could I do this to her?” I was so consumed by my own problems that I had failed to see that she was suffering too. A deep sense of regret engulfed me.
I cradled her head on my lap and cried uncontrollably. Tears were streaming down my face as I kissed her dampened head repeatedly and begging for forgiveness. “Please forgive me, mother. I promise to be good and will not abandon you again. Please do not leave me…I do not have anyone else in this world to turn to. Please mother…please do not die.” I pled desperately. Her sweaty forehead and tightly-shut eyes indicated that she was in tremendous pain. As I was just about to get up and seek assistance, her body convulsed violently for few seconds and went still.
Alarmed, I tried to shake both of her shoulders fervently trying to regain her consciousness but her body remained lifeless. At this moment, I was wailing terribly. I buried my face on her stiff shoulders and I let out and anguished cry “Mother….”
A light tap on my shoulder dispersed my long thoughts. “XX, quickly go and offer your last respect to your late mother.” My best friend, Iskandar, prompted me. There was a vast of emptiness in my heart as I staggered to her side and knelt down. A huge sense of sadness filled me as I lowered my face to kill her chilled forehead and look at her serene face for the very last time. It was time for mother to be allocated permanently to Pusara Abadi Cemetery.
I could not accept the fact that she was going to leave me forever. I would not forgive myself for what had happened. “How could I, as her only son and companion, had treated her so cruelly..?” “Where was I when she needed me most and why was it so difficult for me to heed all her advices?” All these questions lingered on my mind. She was gone now and no matter what I do, it would not bring her back. If only…if only I had listened.