A kind-hearted little boy: “He lost his father”

If anyone had asked who I loved most in this world, I would have said it was Iman, my youngest; born in November 1991. That was a time when I was still clean. However, that moment of stupidity was looming – the re-introduction to opiate which resulted in the horrendous relapse that later took away almost everything that I had; besides bringing distress and suffering to those near.

pinkfloyd_scream_150x115And they included Iman – the sweet, kind-hearted little boy; always trusting and uncomplaining… a Gift and a Trust from God whom I was blessed to have. The thought and knowledge that I had failed him with that irresponsible addiction, which fouled up my sense of priorities and had caused the frequent neglect of him and his siblings by not fulfilling my responsibilities a lot of the time – the feelings of guilt, worthlessness and self-hatred that accompanied these were the biggest torment of all.

SCREAM – This one from Pink Floyd “The Wall” is among the more accurate graphics to represent `tormented’  

There was the confusion, the sense of hopelessness and the despair of the situation… “Hope” is what that keeps us moving on no matter what the circumstances. But in my situation then, it was almost all gone and nearing zero when it comes to hope. “Almost”, however, was the all-important adverb in that instance; because no matter how minuscule or minute it had remained, that was what had kept me from doing the irreversible in “the ultimate attempt to escape”. That thought of failing your children, the pure and innocent – the crushing weight it heaped upon you was the worst suffering I had ever felt.

I sometimes hear this kind of talk by others: “Drug addicts just don’t care about their families. If they do, they would have stopped their addiction immediately.”

I’m not really going to contradict and refute that. At the same time, and based on my own experiences, I certainly don’t agree with the above either. It’s not that simple: that part about “don’t care” – the Malay term is “tak ambil peduli”: I know that I did… despite the addiction.

Often, during my time of active addiction – and also when I was in prison and at Pusat Serenti Gambang especially, I’d wonder about what it was that had kept me addicted. Why did I continue despite knowing that things would only get worse if I “don’t do something about it”? I did discover one answer, which was shared by practically all of the inmates whom I had posed the question to: it was self-delusion; of comforting one’s self that “All will be fine, somehow”.

How attractive was the alternative; in giving up drugs? With the opiates of heroin and morphine, that means undergoing severe physical withdrawal; and the psychological/mental withdrawal that goes on for weeks. But I believe practically all addicts would gladly undergo these… if things were to magically revert to the time just before it all started. But that’s not how it works, of course.

And so I went on. In the years after 2000, there were times when I had actually “stopped”, in that I was no longer physically addicted. None of these were voluntary. They were either through the lack of money – which was often; or there was that dreaded  “putus” or disruption with the supply. And at the first opportunity, I would get back at it.

[*Detoxifying:Treat for alcohol or drug dependence; Remove poison from; These are the dictionary definitions. It’s `easy’ to get yourself or someone off the physical addiction, regardless of how long you had used, how much and the average purity of the substance – get him to detoxify. How? Deny him the substances for a certain period of time. Here’s when the `fun’ starts – the misery of physical pain AND mental torment. I’ve gone through a few that were of “hellish” class, and many of “severe”. And lots of “mild”. I can truthfully state this: The `mild’ of opiate withdrawal is worse than almost all of my  `normal’ fevers (non drugs-related, like what you all here suffer occasionally), and it’s for each and every second of the day. I hope this gives a better idea of what this withdrawal thing is.]

despair I later learned the main reason why – I was alone… alienated. There was not much point in continuing to be clean – that is one’s thinking when he is alone and seemingly without hope for the future. During the past couple of years, I’d sometimes do this “time-tunnel exercise” of trying to remember and feel what it was like during a period – early 2000 for example. The memories of those negative feelings and incidents would stream back. Various aspects of my life were so knotted up, so blurred and dark that I could not see how they could be better in the future (that’s now). With nothing to really strive for, and with the heavy stone carried by every person bearing the guilt of having failed those who depended on you, the natural response was to find relief.

Some found temporary relief in alcohol, some in gambling, or womanising; many with a combination of those, and still even more added music and dance and whatever else. With me, it was in moving deeper towards the cause of that predicament in the first place: armed with a Terumo syringe intended for diabetics to administer insulin, the `immediate solution’ which was to perpetuate the cycle was in shooting up even more morphine or heroin. Sometimes these were spiked with methamphetamine – the pil kuda. 

But how different it is now, despite having undergone a divorce process! For this, I am grateful. The people who are here now – despite never having met many yet, the spiritual aspect of all the communicating helps to lift this stone… Sherry Nor Jannah & Nazmi, Shakirah, Elviza, Zara (so often), Distractor, Sheila, Brigitte… my great friend in Seoul (who prefer that I keep silent about his existence, and I will respect that), Mekyam, Fauziah, and everyone who have honestly and sincerely wished me well. I shudder to think about the time prior to Gambang – it’s a wonder that I managed to hold on for that long despite the immense weight that was pulling me down.

And one of the main factors that had helped to counterbalance the thoughts about “ending it all” was the person whom I often remember as the innocent little boy – one of those whom I had wronged by my choices and actions. And he never knew it. Even during those days of heavy addiction, I had the desire to make up for all my wrongs. And ending it all would have meant that I won’t – ever; besides tarnishing him with another stigma… as if what he had then wasn’t enough. Despite all the hopelessness and self-loathing, I had to go on.

Some of the readers might wonder about my mentioning him, and “not protecting his privacy”. Well, one of them is that; from what I see, Iman, despite being the youngest, is the one who has accepted me for what I was and am, and the addiction period for what it was. I don’t know what it is inside him, but there’s something special about it. And he being my son who was the most unsuccessful when it comes to academics; examination results. It was something of which my ex-wife had often scolded him for – and a source of friction with me, for I would always side with him.

It wasn’t for the sake of it, no. Even from very early on, there were characteristics that others somehow didn’t see – or they didn’t say so. This was a boy who would never lie to escape punishment. In whatever situation, when asked whether he did something, it was always a “Yes”. And bullying by taking advantage of his age and size when with younger kids – that wasn’t him. His sense of fairness, fair play – they were there in him from very early on.

He couldn’t believe or accept that there were others who weren’t like him. He was so kind as to allow the younger kids to bully him; not knowing how to retaliate… because he felt it was wrong! One kid younger than him did take advantage of this when he was about five. When he came home crying and telling me about it, I had to set things right. And since this particular kid was too young to listen to reason, there was only one way – I taught Iman how to retaliate. That put an immediate end to the younger kid’s actions, of course.

His character – that was what I saw in him. Unfortunately, this wasn’t shared by my wife, who had placed “academic results” as the priority. That, incidentally, was what my own father had emphasised on too decades ago. Neither her nor my wife “were wrong”. However, based on my own experience, I felt I knew better. I’ve held on to this from early on and right until now: One’s character is the most important… not in getting 12A’s, not in doing a degree in law at Oxford. Of course, having and getting both would have been ideal. But I can say with all honesty now that I’m extremely happy with what he is – examination results be damned. Iman is a good person, and that’s all that mattered to me.

Despite his poor results from Standard One and onwards, I saw that it wasn’t `stupidity’. In his case, it was the lack of motivation or interest. I knew that he had enough intelligence based on how he had handled the PC – a Pentium MMX 166MHz with 32MB RAM and 3GB HDD bought at the end on 1998 when he was in Standard One. I had bought it (or, it was with my father’s money actually) with the aim of doing something then to create a job for myself and a source of income. It wasn’t very successful. But interestingly, when I was in Gambang and with a few months left, kept coming back to this idea again. And remarkably, exactly 10 years later, I was/am doing what I had planned and intended in 1998!

On Wed 10 Aug 2005, Iman – then in Form Two – was at this house in the afternoon. That was his daily routine  after school… I was sure to hear the stepping of dry leaves outside; of him coming over to here. Its “his time” playing games at the computer while I lie down and read a book. It sure broke my feeling of loneliness with him here.

But I didn’t see him the following day. The next time I was to see him was a good 16 months later… 

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17 thoughts on “A kind-hearted little boy: “He lost his father”

  1. Salaaam Mat C
    Written from the heart this one really is. Your love for the boy shines through..what a poignant piece!

  2. hek eleh…

    now we get the continuation of this story 16 months later…you tormentor you! you better finish this story, I have no opiates to get me through the suspense!

    heheh

    • @ex-nimr
      As usual, this isn’t done on purpose. As it is, there are already a few forks here – Part 2 of something waiting for the 3; Part 1 with no part 2… There’s no system at this blog. Or maybe this one actually qualifies as “the system here”: Just Write and Write Away whatever.

      I HAVE to end it someway. Actually, something very important and ironic was happening at around 8AM when I posted this (without editing, especially the later paragraphs). I was rushing to attend to something directly related with Iman’s interests. Sherry Nor-Jannah knows, of course. As does Elviza. BTW your friend: Wonder what she’s doing since yesterday(??)… macam sibuk benar. Preparations dia nak kahwin ke?

  3. Salam MC,

    Glad that you finally able to write about Iman. Like I said before, if you ask Iman, he would say that he is proud to have you as his father, always was and always will.. like I am proud to have you as my friend..

    Do take care and how’s your asthma?

    • Nor,
      Sorry for not replying yesterday. Was busy with something very important concerning Iman (Sherry knows about this one – a problem we are facing right now. But never mind; another time).

      Anyway, there weren’t much for him to be proud of me then. I keep thinking about it at times; of how he might be feeling at that time. Maybe it’s better to write another post about these things…

      Thank you for enquiring about my asthma ailment. It’s been okay the past couple of weeks. I’m also taking a supplement – in the form of a certain milk from New Zealand – to help boost the body’s immunity. It’s quite expensive, really.

      I’m thanking the person who had bought that with her own money… and giving it to me.

  4. Salam Bang Mad,

    Noted about ur comment to Arep in previous comment section about the new post here. I hope I don’t make you feel guilty, having asked you of how are you doing via Fb (as I hadn’t heard from you for quite sometime tho’).

    Anyway, as for this post, I concur with other commentators, that your son never lost his father. Not in his heart, and that is for sure. I always believe pepatah melayu (was it pepatah or peribahasa or simpulan?) that – ‘air di cincang takkan putus’. Rest assured that your son love you, for what you are now..even more! But after this, be honest with your kids, be more loving with them…just like we did to our folks.

    I hope you will be doing fine, Sir.

    ps: I have a personal favor from you. Please grant it.. hehehe… Aight..I hope in upcoming posts, please don’t mention my name..I mean, my help is very very little -lah Bang Mad..unless if you need me to defend you about something…haaa..that one, I don’t mind..ok Bang Mad? :p (*I strongly feels that there’s noting much that I did to you. It’s pure sincerity, when there are ppl in need.

    Have a good day, bang Mad. I need to continue my work after this..but am tired :(

    • Zara’s post is stamped 12:51 AM – that’s not too long ago. I had tried to catch you by starting Yahoo Messenger through Meebo. However, it was slow to login – had missed you by just a minute. I had just wanted to thank you for coming here and leaving a comment. Am aware of your “Short Story” post earlier in the morning:-)

      As for your request – I’ll try not to mention you. See the emphasis… as if I’m also preparing an excuse:-) And nothing that you should feel guilty about – it’s just that I keep remembering this blog whenever I’m in contact with you… as if I had abandoned it. Actually it was more of procrastination…

      I might continue later. Like you, I’m quite busy – and especially today, Thursday. Later, okay?

  5. Mahathir merupakan neo colonialist. [SNIP]

    * Mat Cendana 5:09PM – Ni apahal pulak Mahathir kat sini? Dia pernah jadi Komandan Pusat Serenti ke? Sorry Mat Bond – Hantar benda mengarut kat sini jadi …. GOODBYE!!

  6. You’ve hurtled through that abyss that others can only guess at, and to say you’ve “done well” is a gross understatement I think.

    Anyway bro… you’ve picked yourself up, dust yourself off…

    …here you are, still standin’.

    This piece really moved me bro.

    • I had seen this comment from last Thursday – didn’t know what to say, really.

      If you must know, I was haunted by a few posts that you had written at your blog/s – the ones related to your children. There I was, thinking about “What might have been”… the regrets, remorse, shame, of having put my children through all sorts of troubles and unhappiness.

      There was that one last November, about your eldest son’s birthday – that post really got to me. But the good thing was that it built inside me a determination to do my best for them; that despite those “lost years”, I still have my life… I still could do something for them. And regardless of how my court case with my (ex) wife were to transpire.

      I’m still facing a lot right now – of betrayal, sabotage, prejudice and other obstacles. To tell the truth, I might have folded if not for a few people here – Sherry, Shakirah… and Elviza too. Maybe I should write a new post.

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