A Promise to Rebuild
'O' Level student-inmate from Tanah Merah Prison
In life, time plays a significant role in refining the shape of your future. Even in the Holy Quran, there is a revelation in regards to this “O, time, Humans are truly at loss….” Therefore, if we do not value time and peruse it wisely we are bound to fail in life. Our efforts and perseverance in changing or shaping our future can only be told when the time comes.
Time and again, I have made promises and reneged them. Due to this attitude, my closed and loved ones started to distant themselves.
Their trusts were lost with time due to my foolish actions which eventually lead to my imprisonment. Every time I am released from the gaol, I would seek their forgiveness and promised not to revert to my past ways. In the beginning, they would look me in the eyes and nod their heads to show me their understandings and support. However, as the rate of my incarcerations increased, their rate of understanding and support decreased. It is an exact replication of the “Boy who shouted wolf too many times” story. As a result, they cared less of my well-being and this led me being depressed and started to turn my life back to drugs and crime, which in turn would land me back into the “tiny-can”.
This time round, my sentence is harsh. Truth be told, when the Honourable Judge sentenced me to 5 years of Corrective Training, instantaneously my heart stopped a beat and it started to pound against my chest cavity, which seemed to rattle the entire skeletal structure of my diminutive body. I could her the blood rushes around in my body as adrenaline surges through my abused veins and arteries. I felt tiny beads of perspiration trickled down my back and precious pearls of tears streaming down my cheeks. At that point of time, the court room seemed to be swirling around. Immediately, I sat down and the tears became more frequent like the Niagara Falls.
I was lost in my thoughts, 5 years without remission is a very long time. I did not know what to expect. I had lost everything in my life. My adopted families had left me. They had migrated to Malaysia without my knowledge. Whereas for my biological family, I do not know where my mother was. I thought of going through the sentence without any visit and support is just impossible. Thus, when I was interviewed by the doctor, I related to him of my worries. I was diagnosed with slight depression and mood disorder. The doctor prescribed me with psychiatric medication, which helped to alleviate the pain and put me in a happy mood. Time was the witness of the sufferings I went through.
Two weeks later, I had a surprise visit. I was shocked because I was prepared to go through this imprisonment life without any contacts from my family. As I waited for the tele visit to display the image of my mysterious visitor, I was pulled back in time when I was happy having dinner with my family. The image of my biological mother as she wished me a happy 28th birthday and presented me with a Hong Bao containing $300 to help me build my life up. At that point, I was just released after a four-year sentence and gotten a job as a gondola technician. She was concerned with the job which required me to work at a height. She beckoned me to change to a safer job. I remembered, I promised her to think about it and I swore to direct my life towards the family. I was brought back to reality by the notification that the visit starting soon. How time flies? It was three years ago.
The screen displayed a vacant room and I felt crushed. Deep inside me longed for a visit from my family. Instantaneous to the thought, the screen went blank and a few seconds later it came back on. With the images of my mother and my sweet sister with autism. I was astonished and speechless. The words the came out of my mouth were incomprehensible. They sounded guttural rather than word. My cheeks felt as though they were poured with tepid salty water. My mind kept on churning at its top gear, trying to piece the puzzle on how did my mother knew of my incarceration.
Their salutations awoke me, the first sentence I uttered was, “Mak, please forgive me.” However, this time I could feel the sincerity because after I said it, I found that my heart has become more spacious. It was truly contrasting. Before that, it was like cramped and devoid of any emotions but after seeking my mother’s forgiveness, it was as though the heart is as wide as the universe, and the weight that I felt on my shoulder has dissipated. I discovered and learnt a precious lesson. Just by knowing that there will always be someone who is willing to stand by your side. The burden you felt will be lighter because you are assured that you can always relate to someone whom you love and who will always love you. It is true time will heal all wounds, not forgetting mom.
I did not make any more promises to my mom. However, I promised to myself that I will out a stop to all my nonsensical acts and focus on rebuilding my family life. To prove my point, I enrolled to continue my studies. I know from experience shared by my peers and reading up articles on Darren Tan and ex-convicts who managed to mend his ways and contribute his resources to help others has further instilled the tenacity to study and succeed in life. I had enough of downfalls, it is time for me to climb out of this pit hole and stand up against the obstacles that had hampered and hindered me from achieving my goals.
In Prison School, I learnt to persevere, and stay resilient to strive for the best in life. Only on the recent Parents, Teachers, Officer’s meeting did I find the strength to made a promise to my mom and my sister with autism. It is through the words of motivation from Chief Warder Hannah, “Beware of the tears of your mom, in the hereafter it will seek to know why you caused it to flow down those rosy warm cheeks of your mothers?” As I slowly grasped and cupped my mother’s rough and minute hands, I earnestly promised her that I would rebuild my life and I will take care of her and my sister with autism.
I will ensure that not a single mosquito will have the opportunity to taste their sweet warm blood. It all starts now as me being a student and as me persevering to attain good grades. My mum replied tearfully; “This time around, I can see that your promise is good. You are matured now because of the knowledge you had gained as a student. As your mom, I will always pray for your success.” As if on cue, my sister cried as though she understood every word that was exchanged. Only time will tell. Promises are not meant to be broken. Especially, a promise which is full of hope and dreams that will unite my family.