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Till today, I am still lamenting for my father - by M.N.

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That moment

'N' Level student-inmate from institution TM1 Consolation Prize

That moment when I was told of my father’s death.

The year was 2017 and I was remanded at the Changi Prison Complex. It is the last place I would want to be yet I still ended up here. I was remanded for importation of drugs. It was not a smart decision to import drugs into Singapore due to the harsh punishment yet I found it an easy method to obtain cash.

The day was Sunday, 11 September 2017, I was only just finishing up my lunch when all of a sudden my cell door opened, “N!” called out the officer at the door. The officer was big-bone with a round face. “Please step outside for a moment.” uttered the officer. I immediately washed my hands and went out. The officer brought me over to a bench nearby and offered me a seat. I sat down as he went around and sat opposite of me. I was in a state of oblivion when abruptly he began to speak.

“N, I am sorry to call you out during this time but this needs your attention. Your father passed away yesterday afternoon. Your family has requested for you to visit your late father for the last time before the burial.” pronounced the officer. I was devastated by the news. No way! I thought. I was in denial. How could he leave me so soon? I was aware of his sickness but not until this moment. “I would like to visit my father,” I responded.

I was escorted to the registry office to obtain all the paperwork. Then I was briefed by the duty officer about the procedures to visit my late father. However, I was not listening as I was ruminating about my late father and the rest of my family, especially my mother. I knew that she is a strong woman but I wonder how she would handle this predicament. The briefing was over and the officers signaled that we are good to go.

In the van, I reminisced about those times my father doted on me when I was a child. He had provided shelter and food for the family, the sole breadwinner of the family when he was in good health. Now, he is too sick to live. Diabetes and kidney failure has caught up with him. He is only 60 years old.

The journey took forever to my dwelling. Tears streamed down my face and it could not be stopped. This is the first death in my family and I was remanded. I thought about my actions too. I should be by his bedside when he takes his last breath.

I peeped through the back window and the surroundings told me that I had reached my dwelling. “I need to be strong,” I murmured. Two barrel chested officers escorted me to my flat. I glanced at the area as I saw a crowd of mournful faces. I could not imagine myself being in this state, handcuffed and shackled, seeing my late father for the last time. All eyes on me as I shuffled my way into the house. An embarrassment quickly filled me up.

At the corner of the room, I saw my mother. Her eyes were puffy from all the crying. She came over and embraced me. “Your father is gone” she wailed. I consoled and calmed her down. Ustaz permits me to kiss my father one last time. I kissed him for the longest time and cried my heart out. I sought forgiveness from him and magically I saw him smile. He had told my sister that I would be out to see him one last time. His wish was fulfilled and he can rest in peace.

Everyone recited a prayer for my father as time is running out for me. As I made my way out of my dwelling, words of encouragement were thrown at me. I was touched. After everything was over, I felt contend that I got to see my father for the last time even under such circumstances. Till today, I am still lamenting for my father.

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