The sky was turning dark, we had nowhere to go. I didn’t want my parents to see my sorry plight. They were against the marriage from day 1 and the last thing I needed now was to hear “I told you so.” Finally, it was his sister who took us in. While I kept mum, my helper spilled the story of a tumultuous marriage and the constant abuse I had to put up with. His sister brought me to her lawyer and called my brother. The next thing I knew, mum was telling me “Come home. We’re here for you.”
I went home sheepishly, glad they didn’t start any lectures. The kids were still living with my ex-husband who threatened to throw them down the building or bring them to the furthest corner of the world so that I would never see them again if I still insisted on a divorce. That selfish man had wanted the best of both worlds - to keep his family intact without giving up his girlfriend.
It was painful to be apart from the kids who meant the world to me. I managed to convince him to allow me to coach them in their schoolwork everyday. Leaving them in the evening was heart wrenching for their little worlds revolved round me since they were born. I recall buying 10 pieces of YK’s favourite durian cupcakes and sticking a candle in each one to celebrate his 10th birthday in April that year. While cheerfully coaxing him to make a wish and blow out the candles, my heart was crying inside. It was clear to see what he wished for. At that age, he knew how to hide his feelings to avoid incurring the wrath of his father. Parting was sorrowful, he would wave goodbye sadly at the gate, trying to suppress the tears. SK, being younger, could not understand why I couldn’t stay.
Living apart from the kids gave me plenty of time to develop a new business. I didn’t want my kids to grow up deprived of love or anything in the world, so I holed myself up in the room day and night, working my ass off. When I received my first paycheck, I was inspired to work even harder. Naturally, I lost a lot of weight and started growing my hair long and wearing clothes that I fancied, instead of pantsuits that the controlling freak had always insisted.
I hatched a plan to bring the kids home. My first attempt to smuggle them out and make a quick getaway failed when he caught us leaving. He created such a scene, I aborted the plan to save the kids some trauma. For someone who never gave a damn about the kids before, he started watching them like a hawk. He knew his life was falling apart and was afraid of losing them. He turned into a psychotic madman who would interrogate me for hours like the CID until I would simply break down under pressure. It often escalated into huge fights, shouting matches and tears. It finally took a black-eye before I told the lawyer to proceed with the divorce.
I finally succeeded in bringing the kids back with me. When he discovered, he called my parents’ home, shouting threats into the phone. Dad gave him a stern warning and strangely, he stopped harassing us. He had always been afraid of my dad, a man who would not tolerate any nonsense.
It was only after I stayed apart that I realized I had completely lost myself since I met him at the age of 20. We were officially divorced in Jan 2003 on grounds of his adultery, after fighting bitterly over the custody of the kids. I was awarded the full custody, but by the time the court order was out, I was saddled with debts. Thankfully, my business picked up and I eventually became debt-free. Today I am living my life to the fullest. I am no longer merely existing, I have found myself again. He has also moved on and we have put the past behind us.
Looking back at the painful memories resulted in a wet pillow but I can only say “You go girl! You’ve come a long way!”
During one of those visits to coach them in their schoolwork.