If Only I Had Listened
'N' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison
B was my best friend and was like a brother to me. We met in a boarding school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. B was an orphan and he was boarded to the same school as me. We were unlikely friends; he was a loner and I was an extrovert. We never talked in class, but one fine day our science teacher had chosen us to be lab partners. I was as good as a failure in science back then but B was a natural. We started talking to each other and B had helped me with my science. Amazingly, my grades went from a fail to a pass and by end of the year, a distinction. B and I became inseparable by then and we did everything together - we eat together, play together, study together, got chased by a bulldog together and even wrestled in the mud together.
My family had accepted B as our own family and B accepted us to be his only family. My parents took him in as their own son and B became my only brother I ever had. He was an orphan whose parents died in a tragic car accident when his mother was going into labour in giving birth to him. He was saved thankfully to the quick action of the ambulance and he thank God every day for saving his life despite the loss of his biological parents whom he never knew.
Who would have thought, who would have guessed a kind hearted and loving B could have been sent to the gallows? It has been a year since I lost him, it has been a year since his death, it has been a year since he was hanged and it has been a year since I last heard his plea for clemency.
Today as I am sitting in this dark cold room, as I am sitting curled up on the rough cold floor in between four walls, alone in this gaol being haunted by the merciless past. I have been trying to expunge this horrible past, the aching thoughts, the indelibly painful memory of my brother’s death, away from haunting me and from eating me alive from the inside. I am crying, I am whining, I am screaming my hopeless heart out but none could hear me, not even my dead brother. The worst part of it all was that, I was supposed to be the one to be sent to the gallows instead of my brother and today I am still alive thankfully to my beloved brother I once had. Now, in retrospection, I think back of how everything began and this is how my story goes.
“Ring! Ring!”, my phone rang in the middle of B’s 21st birthday party and I took out my phone to see who was calling. I saw the caller ID was my previous drug dealer and so I crept away from B and our friends to answer. B saw me leaving and was suspicious of what was going on. After talking on the phone, I abruptly left the scene and drove away from our house. I saw B from the rear view mirror, looking fazed and sad at my sudden departure.
I came back home later that evening and found the party had ended. B was cleaning up at the front porch and did not seem to acknowledge my presence. I brought back two black bags, which caught his eyes. He did not ask what was in those bags even though I saw the slightest hint of curiosity in his face. That same night, I called him to our room to ask for his help and he had the shock of his life when I told him what was in those bags and what did I have in mind for them. I was very frank and told him that in those black bags each, was 1kg of Marijuana and that I needed to pass them to a drug dealer in Singapore. B was speechless and I continued by saying that I was indebted to my drug dealer and this was the only way to pay him back.
He disagreed with me and then advised me not to do this insane plan which could get me killed by the law. He pleaded for me to do something else - that he would go and work so that I could pay my debts to my drug dealer. However, I pushed all his words and advices away coldly and continued to persuade him. Eventually he agreed after I explained to him that my drug dealer was going to kill me if I did not do this and had threatened to kill mom and dad too.
He knew I could not have done it alone with the 2kg of Marijuana into Singapore, so he gave in for the sake of me. We took the bus down to Johor Bahru and took each a private taxi to drive into Singapore with the black bags each in our possession. When we were at Singapore customs, it seemed that the officers there were having an operation going on. Both our private taxis were asked to stop and checked thoroughly in their garage.
They had a 100% car, body and luggage check ongoing. After checking my car, the officer turned his attention to my luggage at the back of the car. To my utter amazement, the black bag I was carrying was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, chaos was at B’s side of inspection and I saw him handcuffed with the two black bags. The next thing I knew, I was asked to give a urine test and I was brought in for positive of Marijuana.
My brother and I were sent to lock-up and our respective investigation officers interviewed us. After that, I was transferred to another cell and I found my brother in the opposite cell of mine. I asked him about the bags and what actually happened. I was at my worst predicament. He calmly told me that he did not want me to risk bringing in the drug and so he took both the bags before entering Singapore. He told me not to be sad with anything that was going to happen as he was prepared to return to his biological parents. He advised me to stop all the drug related activities and take care of mom and dad.
I could not open my mouth as I was in shock and the next thing he was taken away by the investigation officer to another cell and the last thing he told me was, “Don’t cry my brother. I love you,” and I cried and cried until I can no more cry.
B was sentenced to death and I was sentenced to RTC (Reformative Training Centre) for my consumption. Until today, the painful memory still etches in my mind. The wounds in my heart seem so fresh it haunts me every day. My brother had given his life for a worthless scum like me and I will always be reminded and live in regret for I was the reason my brother was killed. Now I can only think of the words, if only, if only I had listened, if only I had listened to my brother, he would have still be alive today.