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The only audible sound came from my sister’s sob - by J.C.

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If Only I Had Listened

'N' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison

3rd Prize

“If only I had listened.” How many times have we heard a disgruntled person utter those words? The fact that the saying is of often used, may just show that many people are finding it hard to make a wise decision.  The first time I uttered those words I was 22 years old.

“C, wake up! Mummy is dead! I woke up and my elder sister was standing beside my bed. “Mummy committed suicide.” She said I was only 12 years old then, but I knew my mother had been depressed for the past few days because my father had left us.  With some trepidation, I leapt off my bed and rushed out of my room.  The only audible sound came from my sister’s sob. The moment I saw my mother, I began to wail. She was lying on a sofa in my living room.  A puddle of blood covered the white, tiled floor. Blood on her wrist to hand had apparently dried up.  I went over to hug her despite the blood.  All of a sudden, she stirred.

Thankfully, my mother had not cut herself deep enough.  She had tried to kill herself by slashing her wrist because she could not face the reality that my father was willing to abandon his family for a younger woman who worked in a nightclub.  I was grateful for my mother’s survival. However, I started to despise life right then.  The fact that both of my parents were willing to leave my sister and me behind to face the uncertain ties of the world by ourselves made me angry.  At a young age, I already tasted the world of unfairness and living with hatred.

Needless to say, my parents separation and inadequate supervision had made me pre vulnerable and susceptible to influences.  I started hanging out with a local street gang.  In no time, I became a member of that cult.  With my new group, I quickly lost interest in studies and skipped school regularly.  In year 2005, almost a year after my mother’s suicide attempt, I was expelled from school.  Subsequently, I became more involved in my gang and was introduced to drug for the first time at age 13.  My friends and I would consume the pills we bought at void decks. Gradually, I learned how to earn money through illegal means.  I started with minor infringements of the law such as selling contraband cigarettes and pirated VCDs.

Unsurprisingly, my involvements in illicit activities had caused my mother to worry incessantly. She never stopped persuading me to turn away from the wrong path.  However, I told her bluntly that she should find someone to remarry and stopped worrying for me.  She never once replied to what I had said.  As I grew older, I also grew bolder.  I switched from minor infractions to drug trafficking.  I began to make a lot of money and transformed into an egotistical and rude individual.  I respected no one because I thought I was rich.  I also lived a prodigal lifestyle.  I dined in expensive eating establishments, spent on branded products and often stayed in five-star luxury hotels.  Nonetheless, that kind of life was short-lived.  The Central Narcotics Bureau Officers acted upon a tip-off, came to my house and apprehended me.

Consequently, I was awarded a ten-year jail term for the amount of methamphetamine found in my possession.  Overnight, I was stripped of self-worth and dignity.  I knew I was the reason that for the many tears my mother had shed on one too many nights.  Worse still, I realised she had not remarried because of me.  She was constantly worried for me and had not have the chance to her own happiness. 

Not only I had spoilt my life, my mother had to incur sufferings for my wrongdoings as well.  I really felt sorry and told myself; if only I had listened to her, she would have a second chance of happiness I decided to turn away from my former obnoxious and iniquitous conduct.  I also realised the importance of education.  Therefore, I submitted my application to the Prison Education Branch to study. Meanwhile, I wasted no time.  I grabbed any reading materials that were available for self-improvement.  In late 2015, I was apprised that prison school had accepted my application.

In the past, I used to regard rules as the greatest stupidities of mankind.  However right now, the stringent rules at prison school have taught me to be a disciplined person. Based on my own experience, I know that the fundamental cause of rebelliousness starts during adolescence.  I have a clear sense of direction right now.  I plan to volunteer myself at Beacon of Life Academy after I am released.  This is an organisation found by an ex-offender to help troubled youths.  I hope I could share my life story and impart the values I have learnt in life to troubled youths.  To help them reflect and choose a right path before they have to utter,” If only I had listened.”

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