Random crime in my home country has always frightened me, as it does my Malaysian friends who live here in Hong Kong. (I have a girlfriend who tells me she goes nuts when her son, growing up here, goes back to Penang and isn’t used to being kept on a proverbially “far shorter leash” and out of habit wanders much further than your average child growing up in Malaysia would. I know how she feels.)
In my lower primary years a man walked right into my primary school, claimed to be my father’s friend and tried to carry me off the compound in a bear hug. The only reason I’m still around is because as he made it to the edge of the playground, me squirming but unable to wriggle free, otherwise too young to be afraid (simply didn’t believe he was my dad’s friend so didn’t want to follow him), I loudly said I’d forgotten my schoolbag. He reluctantly let me go to get it, and obviously I didn’t come back. As I watched him looking for me through the windows of the classroom I was hiding in, one of my friends came in and said “Oh, while you were playing, your father’s friend asked me what your name was.” The man never showed up in school after that day. It was almost 2 decades before I realized just how not ok that was. There are so very many of them. That doesn’t make them ok. None of them are ever ok.
Below is the heart breaking blogpost a reader sent me, written by a teenaged girl who watched her mother stabbed on a roadside in Bukit Gasing, Malaysia. I teared up when I read it, and at first I just wanted to keep quiet for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing during their trying time.
Then I decided to post Hui Wei’s tribute to her mother in its entirety as a tribute to her.
A few months ago in English class, my teacher asked us to write about the person who we admire. I wrote about my mum. A month ago for my English March Test paper, the topic I wrote about was “My Hero”. I wrote about my mum. During my test, i had a writers block so I simply wrote out everything i knew about my mum: her childhood, achievements, etc. My mum is my hero. She always has been, she always will be.
20th April 2013.
Mama left early in the morning for some event her Kiwanis Club’s K-Kids had planned. She came back home with lunch for me and milo ais. I remember grumbling to her because I didn’t want to follow my parents jungle trekking. I did anyway. We had to set up a trail for my father’s running group so mama was carrying a bag with just plain paper in it. I remember grumbling to my mum as we went up and down the hills of Gasing. She told me we’d be out soon. After 2 hours of trekking in the jungle, we finally hit the road. It was the road in Gasing leading up to the temple. We decided to walk back down to the car.
As we walked down the steep road, there was nobody there. No people, no cars. Just the two of us. As we nearly reached the first house, we heard a motorbike sound from behind. We turned around and saw two men on a motorbike. Mama said walk further in the pavement so we did. As the motorbike drove past us, they stopped. The man from behind jumped off. My mum pushed me to the back and told me to go. The man attacked my mum straight away, without saying any words. The knife he used was just a normal kitchen knife, the blade was about 10cm long. As my mum tried to protect herself, she turned to her left, only to be stabbed twice on the back of her right shoulder. She was struggling to escape. The attacker then proceeded to stab the back of her left shoulder. Mama tried so hard to escape. She fell on the ground and the attacker pulled her on the road and stabbed her thigh. I tried to help but the attacker thrusted the knife my way so i ran back further. I couldn’t do anything but scream at the top of my lungs. I screamed and screamed. The attacker hopped on the bike and rode off.
I remember watching my mums body lying on the road, all the blood oozing out. The attacker did not manage to get any of my mums belongings. She told me to call my dad. I ran down the hill looking for help. The first house i went to, the maid (who saw everything that happened) ran in and did not even try to help me. I ran further down and saw a car. They saw me and stopped. And I told them what happened. The driver, Mr Lai told me to get in and we drive up to my mum. Mr Lai called the ambulance and the police while i tried to keep my mum conscious. There was blood everywhere. My mum just kept saying “save me”. Her voice was so week. My dad reached the site 10 minutes later, after running all the way. Mama kept telling us that she couldn’t breathe. I prayed and prayed. She was slowly losing herself. We tried our best to keep her awake and conscious. The police arrived. We put her in the police car since the ambulance hadn’t arrived. As we reached down the road, the ambulance was there so they transferred mum into the ambulance.
I remember sitting in the ambulance, holding my mums hand and trying to talk to her but she didn’t respond. I remember crying. The paramedics were doing all they could do at that point. I remember calling Eu Lim, who was at church to pray for my mum. We reached the hospital in 3 minutes. They rushed my mum to the emergency was. I wasn’t allowed to enter and i was so so scared. My dad had followed Mr Lai’s car and they hadn’t reached yet. I had to settle my mums registration and then i had to talk to the police. My dad arrived. Then my friends arrived. I sat at the doorway of the hospital, praying and praying. 10 minutes later, my dad came out and told me my mum didn’t make it. I dropped in the middle of the hospital floor, screaming. Everyone was looking at me, but i didn’t care. A bunch of doctors came out to get me, they took me to a special room. They questioned me and they told me about how my mum was already gone when we were in the ambulance. They tried their best to revive her.
I remember coming home. My friends just sat in silence. I just sat in silence. I was covered in blood, mama’s blood. I had to get myself together. I had to bathe. We broke the news to my sister through Face Time and that was really hard to do. Slowly, people started coming. It was hard seeing my aunts and uncles cry, my parent’s close friends, my close friends & to know i had to keep it all together. It was really hard, telling my story to everyone. It’s really hard to even close my eyes for awhile because i see it replaying in my head over and over again. Watching my mum lying in her pool of blood and not being able to do anything. Not being able to save her.
People come, then people leave. All i hear are “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “my condolences”. All i hear are people questioning me about what happened, since i was the sole witness. But i am so tired of telling this story over and over again. I am so tired of hearing other people tell this story. This is my story. This is the truth. Newspapers and reporters may twist it around and exaggerate to the whole world, but this story will remain the truth forever.
I am truly grateful and appreciative to everyone who came, whether it was for a short period, or a long time. Thank you to those who’ve brought a little bit more of hope and joy to me, even though you guys didn’t try. Thank you to those who’ve brought food and drinks, and flowers. Thank you to everyone who called, texted, whatsapped, facebook-ed and tweeted me. I dont know how i became a trending topic overnight (#prayforhuiwei). I was mad at first, but then i realised how much my family had all of your love and support. Whether i know you or not, whether you knew my mum or not, all your kind words really helped. My mother was such an amazing and beautiful person.
My mum’s last words to me were “I love you so much” dying there, on the road. I watched it all. I watched it all slip out of my hands. Now my life feels so empty. I keep thinking to myself that this is all a dream. Maybe I’d wake up and be able to avoid this from happening. Maybe if someone pinched me I’d wake up from this nightmare. But this is reality, and I have to face the facts. I have to face the fact that I’m alone now. I have to face the sounds of crying and wailing from the other room. I have to face the facts that I’m going to grow up motherless, clueless and confused. It won’t be easy, but I will get through this.
I love you so much. And I am so sorry I had to watch you die. I am so sorry I couldn’t save you. But you’re with God now. Ma you’re such a great person. Beautiful inside and out. And I thank you for teaching me your ways. Thank you for always teaching (scolding) me to be a better person. Even tho we’ve had our moments, and times we didn’t see eye to eye, you’ll always be my best friend. Who’s going to pick me up from school now. Who am I going to say “HEY MA” to and tell them about my day. Who’s going to cuddle up with me on the couch and be lazy for awhile.
Remember how you used to come into my room while I was studying, and hug me then tickle me. Remember how you used to sing me to sleep when I was young. Or how you used sing when you’re happy. You had a beautiful voice. Remember how we sat on the couch, looking for coloured beads to do arts & crafts. Remember every single day we spent together.
I just saw your body, lying in the coffin. You look so beautiful, peaceful, just like you’re sleeping. And I have the biggest urge to scream “wake up”. Thank you,Ma. For giving me life, for giving me love. You taught me everything good in my life. You were always selfless, God-fearing. You were my strong pillar of hope and love. And even though you’re no longer here with us, you’re with God. And you’re happy, just like how you appeared in Lissa’s dream. And I do hope justice will be served. They’re working on finding the criminals, ma. They will be caught.
We all miss you ma, we miss you so much. Goh Ee and Sar Ee has already appointed themselves as my ‘mama’ and I see you so much of you in them. And it’s not going to be the same anymore. Nothing will be the same anymore. You’re not going to watch me graduate, you’re not going to watch me get married. You’re not going to be there to take care of my children. But I know you are with us in spirit, and you’re always watching over us. Please give me the strength and courage to move forward with my life. Please give me the motivation to be better. To be more like you. To spread the love and joy. Papa, Tache and I will always be grateful for you are the biggest blessing God has given. And maybe you’ve done too much good so The Lord called you home. And you are safe now, safe with God. He will watch over you (and us) and protect you. You are safe from all the evil now.
I will make you proud, mama. I will make everyone proud. I love you so much. I’ll love you every single day of my life, and I’ll never forget whatever you’ve done for me. Thank you so much. Rest in peace, mama, I love you.
God be with you, Hui Wei. You are so strong.