Pondering about A Leave

The little Malay boy wanted to know how to taunt others in Chinese and challenge them to a fight.

In seeking this lesson, he becomes a lesson all by himself.

He was heavily sedated for he would otherwise be violent and untamable. Despite showing reasonable control over his physical and mental faculties, he was sent to a school for the intellectually challenged.

His requests to place his forehead against a elder sister seemed sweet and heartwarmingly innocent - until he raised his right arm over her neck and strongarmed her into submission.

A vending machine stood in the corner. He lifted one languid finger and stared at me. "I want a drink." Same story about sweets. Manipulative, how dreadfully discomforting.

What happened to the idea of a child as a pristine creature of unfettered joy and innocence?

He told me that he has one father in Ubi and another father in Bukit Batok. Two fathers, go figure.

His eyes were glazed and framed in sunken, sallow rings.
He's a druggie, but not by choice.
He's no longer a tabula rasa, but a slate with messy scribbles.
He's apart, not a part.
Who am I feeling sorry for?

Him? For his inability to resist the harsh realities of life? For the unfathomable causality of such scars on an impressionable young mind?

Myself? For the fracturing of beliefs in the innocence of youth?
Angry for him at the unfairness of life or just upset for myself, for realising the frailty of life?

A conflation.
Why is it that kids often confide to me about how dysfunctional their families are?

I am powerless to help, am I not? What can I offer, why did they tell me?

Do they confide in everyone? I am quite sure they tell everyone else too. I am not special, am I not? It's probably just because I happened to want to listen.
A lesson taught but yet to be learned.

What is the lesson that must be passed on?