It was in 1992. The city of Klang was very peaceful back then. It had been a year since my parents were. Being the only child in my family, I grew up with my grandparents since my parents were both working. My mother worked at a primary school while my father worked at a factory near to home. The salary of a clerk and a factory operator was not enough for us to afford neither a Mercedes car nor even a Game Boy Color. My parents were quite thrifty as they knew that if they were not, I might end up wearing the same plain white tee all year round. I was still a little baby at that time; little did I know that bigger challenges are yet to come. A challenge that finally tells me how fortunate I am as there are many other people who are less fortunate than me.
When I was 3, something strange happened to my father. He rarely reached home in time. He no longer bought me my diapers; he did not even buy me my cereals and milk anymore. My mother was very mad at him. Once, he bought a bread-shaped toy when my mother asked him to buy a loaf of bread for me, and that really irritated her. Just imagine a mother's feeling as she sees nothing but a piece of toy from her husband when her child was asking her, "Mom, can I have a piece of bread today?" That was just a part of the story of his irresponsibility towards his wife and child. 6 months later, they were divorced.
We then stayed with my grandparents after my custody was given to my mother. As a single mother, she worked really hard to ensure that I was well cared - she continued her part-time job at the restaurant. She was willing to starve, as long as I could get enough food day long. And I continued to grow up with my mother-without the presence of my father. I was happy that I had my mother to raise me up with full of love. But, there was something missing. I had never had the love of a father. He left me when I was three. And frankly speaking, I envied my friends who had their own fathers. Whenever I came to school, as I was heading to the class and my mother was going to the office, I would see my friends, accompanied by tall men beside them: their fathers. It was just something that I had never experienced before - something that I could never have. No one could teach me football as my mother knew nothing about it. I realized that a mother's knowledge differs from a father's. There will always be something that only a father could teach to his son, something that my mother would never be able to do.
Fifteen years had passed. The last year in school also meant the last chance to represent my school in football. I had been dreaming of playing for my school since I was a kid. The only problem was that she would not allow me to play as she thought that it was just a waste of time and money - a pair of boots would cost her a lot of notes. That situation made me wondered what would happen if my father were here. I might say that we would go for a boot-hunting together, watching football match at night and training for the upcoming tournament on the field. And it was such a pleasure, a pleasure that almost no mother could give to her son.
After a few days of pleading with my mother, she finally allowed me to buy the boots, but only with my own money. The next day, I went to search for a job at a small restaurant, hoping that I could raise as much money as I could. Luck was mine, I was hired and asked to work at night only. It took me a week to adapt to the surrounding environment. Thanks to my new friend, Nabil who was also working there as a part-timer, I managed to cope. Our friendship became closer that I eventually figured out that Nabil was actually a third-year university student. Wondering why he worked, he then told me his story, "My mother died when I was 2 years old, and my father gave me to a foster mother. Since then, I have never met my father anymore. Last year, my foster mother was killed in an accident. I have to work to support myself and pay for the tuition fees." When I got home that night, I knew that there were so many things that I had to think again. His story left me no choice but to ponder on it.
The next morning, before I went to the class, I hugged and kissed my mother. After listening to Nabil's story the night before, I realized that I was very lucky to have my mother who was really loving and caring towards me. I was grateful to God that I could still see and talk to her. Nabil had gone through a worse life than me. Yet, he was very strong and he never complained about his life. He became very successful that he was able to further his study at the tertiary level. I know that I still have someone to laugh with, someone to walk with and someone to eat with. This is the most precious gift I have ever had from God. I will always appreciate you for what you have done, and for who you are, mother.