Saturday, August 31, 2019
Confession of a Former Drug Addict: Learning the Value of Family
Confession of a Former Drug Addict: Learning the Value of Family Misguided Youth Ã¢â¬Å"Oh now that I think back about it, I was really stupid when I was young and that my mother is really unfortunate to have a son like me! Ã¢â¬ Kong said as he ended with a short embarrassed laugh while he recounts the past he isnÃ¢â¬â¢t exactly proud of in mandarin. Kong, 36 , had spent most of his youth in and out of the drug rehabilitation centre and prison. His parents separated while he was still young and their mother decided to bring him and his younger brother along to move into their grandmotherÃ¢â¬â¢s place at Ang Mo Kio.Kong was the eldest among the grandchildren left in his grandmotherÃ¢â¬â¢s care. With his mother busy at work to support the family and his grandmother busy attending the younger kids, the mischievous boy always finds the chance to sneak out of the house. It was then when he got acquainted and started hanging out with the older kids around his neighborhood. These a re the friends that very much influenced and helped mold him into a teenage delinquent. Ã¢â¬Å"I was encouraged by them to join their gang, to skip school and hang out with them.And it was then when I learn how to shoplift, cutting chain off bicycles to steal, extorting money from other kids and getting into fight for the most minor reason, just for the sake of getting into trouble and seeking thrill out of it. Ã¢â¬ , Kong explained how he was a wayward boy that followed whatever his peers instigated. Ã¢â¬Å"And it felt really good to be part of the gang and Ã¢â¬ËcoolÃ¢â¬â¢ to be doing things other normal Ã¢â¬ËgoodÃ¢â¬â¢ kids didn't dare to do. Ã¢â¬ It was then when young KongÃ¢â¬â¢s misbehaviors and actions, prove that it can have direct consequence on his family, and the first to experience it was none other than his younger brother.Both brothers were studying in the same neighborhood secondary school. KongÃ¢â¬â¢s truancy and bad records kept piling up and finally one day, he even threatened to hurt the schoolÃ¢â¬â¢s principal while being called to discipline. ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s when the school decided enough is enough, and KongÃ¢â¬â¢s expulsion was announced. But not just him alone, his younger brother was to be expelled along with him. Sure the younger brother wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t exactly the good obedient student, had been seen around Kong, caused some mischief and playful enough to skip school occasionally.But he never crossed the line or got involved with KongÃ¢â¬â¢s unlawful activities. Still, the school found these reasons enough to get the siblings off their ground permanently. Ã¢â¬Å"The principal felt that because heÃ¢â¬â¢s my younger brother, heÃ¢â¬â¢s nature is surely as bad as me! Just because heÃ¢â¬â¢s my younger brother. Ã¢â¬ Kong said while shaking his head slightly. Ã¢â¬Å"You may think thatÃ¢â¬â¢s unfair but things were different back then during that time. Now if something like this happened nowadays, you will see the principal and school getting onto news! Ã¢â¬ Kong ended with a laugh. From Bad to WorseHis mother and grandmother blamed him for dragging his younger brother into that situation because of the troubles he brewed and being a bad influence. But this incident didnÃ¢â¬â¢t make Kong reflect on his actions. He didn't think of it as a big deal. He didnÃ¢â¬â¢t care about anything. The teenagerÃ¢â¬â¢s rebellious nature only served to take things for the worse. Soon after getting expelled from school, he soon finds himself experimenting with drugs. It was the norm as people around him were doing inhalants and drugs. The first he experimented was glue sniffing. Then he moved on to trying out ecstasy and heroin etc.Experimentation turns into dependency. The addiction works in an insidious way, it crept in and slowly took over KongÃ¢â¬â¢s life before he realized. Days of drug taking ritual turned to weeks, then months and years. It seems like Kong wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t the one controlling th e drugs, it was the other way round. Spending his life in a drug-fuelled haze, it revolved around being troubled over where to find money to support his next supply of drugs. Keeping up with the addiction proof to be not cheap. Although he had joined and worked for the lion dance troupe that was associated with his gang, it wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t enough to keep up with his expenses.To satisfy with his drug cravings, he resorted to theft and robbery, even stealing from his family. The one he hurt most during this period was his mother. Seeing her cry because of him was nothing new. His desperation for drug even made him turned his hand on his very own mother. Kong recalls that particular incident that he will feel bad for as long as he lived, Ã¢â¬Å"This one time I was having this great urge for drugs, but I didn't have money with me, I ransacked the house and approached my mother in the kitchen. But she wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t willing to hand me any money and was screaming at me to quit.I got impatien t and this sudden surge of anger rose up and I exploded,Ã¢â¬ He slapped his own mother across the face. Kong then continued remorsefully, Ã¢â¬Å"I was an unfilial and disgraceful son. Unfit to be human for hurting my mother like that. Like what they say, I deserved to be struck down by lightning. Ã¢â¬ Relatives chided him as being Ã¢â¬Ëuseless, and a shame to the family. Ã¢â¬â¢ Kong ended up caught and admitted to the drug rehabilitation centre. After his release, Kong was still mixing around with the Ã¢â¬ËbadÃ¢â¬â¢ group of friends as he felt being shunned by the society and this was the group of people most accepting of him.He couldnÃ¢â¬â¢t stay clean and soon fell back to his old ways after gaining freedom. He was sent back to the drug rehabilitation centre once more for relapse. Ã¢â¬Å"I was stubborn and self-centered. I didn't really try hard or be determined enough to change my life. I just thought I was unlucky to be caught the first few times. Ã¢â¬â¢ Kong s ays. He continued his old ways, involving in gang fight and robbery with hurt. He was sentenced to imprisonment for a total of 7 years and given 10 strokes of cane. Turning PointWhen he was finally released from Changi Prison, Kong, 30 by that time, felt that he had already wasted a large part of his youth. He made sure to remind himself of the guilt and shame. The heart wrenching moment etched in his memories when he saw how his mother broke down in tears when he was sentenced, how his aged grandmother with declining health having to make her way to visit him in prison over the years. Ã¢â¬Å"I robbed my mother for years because of my rebellious nature, because of my selfishness. All I did was lying and being dishonest with everything they confronted with me.I never thought about the damage I imposed on my family because of my actions. I took advantage on how they dote, only to make them heart-broken. Ã¢â¬ Kong confessed. Now, he deeply understands for mistakes he made, he wonÃ¢â ¬â¢t be the only one paying his dues. His family and loved ones will inevitably bear his consequences one way or the other. Among the tattoos that he was inked over his body during his rebellious younger days, he is now sporting a Ã¢â¬Ësak yantÃ¢â¬â¢ on his back, a traditional form of tattoo normally performed on followers by Buddhist monks in Thailand.He decided to embrace Buddhism and was on a religious trip to Thailand to receive a Ã¢â¬Ësak yantÃ¢â¬â¢. But the tattoo wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t what he received. It was there where he got to know this local young woman from Chiang Mai, who soon became his wife. Kong and his wife now have two young daughters. Unfortunately, their first daughter Elina, 6, is diagnosed with minor autism and currently attending a special school. But their younger daughter has an even more unfortunate fate. Rita, now 3, was born with a severe spinal deformity which was curved at 80 to 90 degree in Ã¢â¬ËSÃ¢â¬â¢ shape.She is the youngest and one of the m ost serious cases of congenital scoliosis in Singapore. Two titanium rods each 15 cm to 20 cm long was inserted into her body to straighten her spine and ribs when she was 2. Every six to nine months, Rita will have to go through operations until she is 14 years old, to expand the rods allowing growth. Being the sole breadwinner of the family, Kong currently works as a cargo assistant with a monthly salary of $1600. He tried to working overtime whenever possible so as to provide more support to his family.He was able to cover more about half of the medical expenses from his own Medisave and Medifunds for RitaÃ¢â¬â¢s medical expenses. He shared how he learnt humility and helpfulness receiving help from relatives and donations arranged by the hospital. Ã¢â¬Å"Sometimes I think that maybe itÃ¢â¬â¢s because of my past deeds, it might have been my karma that caused even my daughters to have to suffer. Being a father made me realized how much the heart hurts when parents see their chi ldren suffer, like how my mother used to feel.Even now, I havenÃ¢â¬â¢t revealed all RitaÃ¢â¬â¢s condition to my Thai wife. IÃ¢â¬â¢m worried she may not be able to take it. Sometimes she will cry while looking at the long deep surgery scars running on RitaÃ¢â¬â¢s back. .Ã¢â¬ Kong said. Ã¢â¬Å"IÃ¢â¬â¢m really grateful for my family and relatives who knew of my past, but still accepted me, loved and cared for my daughters as their own too. Ã¢â¬ Kong added. Even though life may not have turn up perfect, family is now the fuel and motivation for Kong to not turn back his old ways, to be a responsible father and son.