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I used to be on a constant search of something even I could never wholly fathom - by N.R.

O46 (3rd)

N.R, ‘A’ level student-inmate from A4

Title: Indeed what is to come will be better for you than what has gone by

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Indeed what is to come will be better for you than what has gone by

'A' Level student-inmate from institution A4

3rd Prize

As a teenage girl, I was full of angst. I used to be on a constant search of something even I could never wholly fathom. I used to like reading the story of the prodigal son and reveled how he had wasted his life away, only to repent and return to his family. I remembered asking myself, if the tables were turned and the roles reversed, will my family still be there to accept and forgive me? Or will they simply turn their back and leave me in the lurch? Do they really love me unconditionally or only when I am being good and living up to their expectations?

Indeed, I was selfish and cruel to my own family. I put my wants above everything without any heed to my surrounding or the feelings that I would hurt. At 14, I decided to run away from home and dropped out of the Express Stream. Thus, I began to live my life as I desired it to be. The high-life of freedom, easy money, drugs, alcohol, and underage sex. My motto in life then was to live my life to its fullest and without any regrets. I wanted to be the old woman in the room who is able to hold her head up and say, “Oh, I’ve did it before”.

I had my first child at a tender age of 16 and the second child at 20. I was unwed and “proud” to be able to stand on my own two feet, without a need for permanent romantic relationships in my life.

At 20, I admitted into the Drug Rehabilitation Centre for Heroin Consumption. At 25, I was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment for LT1 charge.

With the ample time at hand, I began to appraise my life closely in retrospect - what have I achieved? Despite everything, my parents whom I had heartlessly disappointed time and again, were the ones who always had my back. Taking care of my children during my incarceration. Throughout the kaleidoscope of life, my parents were the constant fixture. I yearn to make things right and be the daughter that will make them proud.

Through the Prison Education Board, I applied and was selected to take my ‘O’ levels in 2017. With my results, I was selected to continue my ‘A’ levels and I aimed to really push myself beyond the boundaries and achieve excellent grades. I felt blessed to be given the chance as education had broadened my perspectives and re-instil in me a desire and love of studying.

At 29 and with eight more months to my release, I decided that there is nothing I could do to change my past. All I can do is to change my future through sheer effort. I will aim to attain a degree in social work and establish my career. The journey will be tough as an ex-convict and a single mother of two, and I am aware that the road will be long and exhausting. However, I am prepared to push myself beyond the boundaries and achieve my goals in life.

Above everything else, I see the situation that I am currently facing as a stepping stone to better myself and atone my sins to my family. I aim to break the vicious cycle that I had foolishly set for myself and education is something vital towards my change.

Every day, as I make my way to and fro my class at the Prison School, I see women with greying hair, serving their sentences. The thought gnawed at me. In 20 years’ time, if I did not change, this could be me. My children will be grown up and I would lose my chance to be with them. My parents will be frail and all the chances to take care of them in their old age will be gone while I will remain a permanent resident of the Changi Women’s Prison.

I shuddered at the horrifying thought knowing that if I still stick to my ways, that will be me in the future. With eight more months to my release, I am preparing myself both mentally and emotionally for the challenges that I will be facing outside. I know that my parents will be there and I pray that there will be enough time for me to atone for the sins that I have committed towards my parents. To my two children, I promise you that this will be the last time mummy leave you.

To mama and papa, after more than 15 years, your prodigal daughter will finally return to you for good. Please wait for my return. I love you and I am sorry for all the things I have done.

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