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The promise to rebuild starts now - by W.W.

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A Promise to Rebuild

'O' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison

1st Prize

Due to the low qualification I had, I was unable to secure any long-term job. I was always struggling to make ends meet. In order to escape from the mounting bills and the pressure to settle them, I sought the comfort of drugs seemingly had to offer. With my first puff, I discovered new found freedom. I felt invincible and as though I could take on the world all by myself. Little did I know that the noose was imperceptibly tightening around my neck. In order to satisfy my growing appetite for drugs, and the hefty cost that came with it, I asked my dealer for ways to earn “fast money”. Thus begun my dabbing in nefarious activities.

At first, I was just peddling drugs for my dealer. Soon, it spiralled into something more sinister - drug dealing. The money was good, too good to be true. Very soon, it all got to my head and inflated my sense of self-worth and ego. With the extra income, I did not bother to demean myself with a normal job anymore as I was able to sustain my addiction and also pay off my monthly bills. I felt like a nova riche and started to frequent nightclubs.

As a result of my increasing use of drugs, I develop an erratic mood swing. Whenever I am late home, my wife would nag at me and bombard me with tonnes of questions. I would shoot at her and tell her now to bother me so much. As long as I was able to pay for the bills and provide her with shelter and monthly allowance, why should she bother with anything else? I was not only an egomaniac but a chauvinist as well.

We quarrelled so often because of my late nights out. Gradually, we drifted further apart. As our quarrels and estrangement worsen, I raised my hands on her for the first time. Ever since the day that I raised my hands on her, I would always beat her up at the slightest provocation from her. Eventually, she felt enough was enough. She asked for a divorce.

I was in over my head. The drugs and hallucinations fuelled my paranoia. It was a toxic mix. I screamed at her and struck her repeatedly. She was like a rag doll. The woman that I had promised to love, through sickness and in health, had been reduced to a mere object that I vented my frustration on.  I had failed her. Failed her miserably. In my drug-addled mind, I thought that I already had the two most important things in life, drugs and money. I did not need her anymore. Never did I know that the most important thing in life is nothing near those two things. I walked out of the house without a second thought, leaving her lying on the cold tiles. I returned to the nightclub and indulged in more drugs and women.

In the arms of two women, I received a phone call from my mother-in-law. She informed me that my wife was in the hospital’s intensive care unit. She had suffered a miscarriage. It was the first time that I learnt about her pregnancy. I was dumbfounded.  I had just killed my unborn child with my own hands! The pride in me prevented me from rushing to the hospital. I convinced myself that it was her fault for keeping in the dark about her pregnancy. However, in my heart of hearts, I knew that not only was I a drug dealer, now I was a murderer too.

I only went to the hospital at the urging of my mother-in-law. On the way to the hospital, my supplier called me and informed me to pick up my supplies at the usual place. I was in a dilemma. I had to choose between my wife and my supplier. In the end, I yielded to the temptation. I was weak. So weak and pathetic. I foolishly cared more about drugs and money than my wife. They could and never would have done what my wife had done for me. I met up with my supplier, without knowing that it was to be the last day of my freedom.

I was ambushed by Central Narcotics Bureau officers while collecting my supplies and was sent to prison. It was the darkest hour of my life. The world I knew has shattered. It was then I realised that all along I was living in my own cocoon, naively thinking that I has all the things in the world. Missing out the only thing that mattered to me, my wife, who had stood by me through thick and thin.

While alone in the cell, I began to reflect on what I had done to my wife. Not only did I abuse her physically, I shunned her love as well. I had been short-changing her all these time. The tremendous guilt and remorse that filled me rendered me a sobbing heap. With a trembling hand, I penned a letter to her, pouring out my heart to her, apologising for all the things that I had done, asking for her forgiveness.

I broke down again when my wife visited me the first time. How I wish to break the Plexiglas that separated her from me, so that I can embrace her and apologise for all the wrongs that I had done. I did not expect her to forgive me, a total wreck who treated her so badly. However, she listens to me with surprising equanimity. She was willing to forgive me on the conditions that I would rebuild my life, beat my addiction and never ever hit her again. I was over the moon when I heard this. I promised that I would treasure her upon my release, and start to rebuild my life back while being incarcerate.

I have since enrolled into the Prison School, to retake my ‘O’ level as I realised that the root cause of my downfall was being unable to secure any long-term job. I hope to further pursue my studies after my ‘O’ level, so that I will have a minimal qualification to land a decent job. Although I still feel frustrated from time to time, and my anger will flare because of all the constraints and pressures, I am able to better manage my anger.

My wife’s unflagging support and constant words of encouragement gave me the strength and determination to press on and persevere through the long dark days. I long for the day that I will be able to hold her in my arms again, to uphold the promise that I made when we exchanged our vows; to start rebuilding our life together. The promise to rebuild starts now.

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