It starts with a couple.
They had met through friends and after a short courtship, they decided to get married. He was 41 and she, 28. Yes, there was a 13-year difference in their ages which she never knew until the day that they got married. During the ceremony at the Registry of Marriages, she took a peek at his identity card and realised, to her surprise, that he was that much older. But he was a good man and she loved him and so she decided that the age difference is of no importance.
And so they got married.
Back then, there was no baby bonus but not having children was never a thought that crossed their minds. A family, they felt, was not complete without children. Besides, both came from large families and having children was a natural progression from marriage. They worked hard and saved diligently and two years later, they were blessed with a daughter. But she didn’t want the child to grow up lonely and hence, they had another daughter four years later.
They lived in a rented apartment and finally, when the younger girl was four, they had saved enough money to move into a tiny three-room flat, a place that they could call their own. But tragedy struck two years later when he, a basketball veteran, collapsed suddenly at a basketball court while umpiring a game. By the time she rushed to the hospital with her two young daughters in tow, it was too late. He was gone.
He had left behind nothing much, being a man with little financial acumen. She was always the one who did the sums. He had no insurance, nothing. His legacy was a houseful of memories and grief. She was on her own.
For the next seventeen years, she worked her body and soul out in order to feed her family. Her daughters were left to their own devices most of the time. She never saw them go on stage to receive prizes in school, nor had the chance to see them perform in concerts. The younger girl was shuttled between relations and child care until the day she went on to secondary school.
And so life went on like that. Along the way, they weathered through some tough storms. The elder girl was diagnosed with the irreversible glaucoma and hypothyroid. Tears were shed, voices were raised and doors were slammed in moments of weakness and pain.
But in the end, this tiny family triumphed. They pulled through all the hardships, more than what others ever had to endure in their lifetimes. The elder graduated from polytechnic and worked her way up to gain a Masters. The younger took the conventional route and graduated with a degree.
Their paths may have been uneven and difficult but with the strong love that binds them, they will get through anything that life has to bring to them.
If he could see everything from where he is now, he would be a very happy man indeed.