The Disappeared | Selangor Times
Issue 118


The Disappeared
Writer: How Han Ming
Published: Fri, 11 Nov 2011

The bars stand strong. Unyielding… and cold. They refuse to bend to my will. I can hear their mocking laughter as I gripped my calloused hands around them.

The ghostly mist crawls in – wrapping those icy arms around me, comforting me. But even the densest fog can’t shield me from the cruel reality. There’s no bending of the authority. There’s no breaking away from this hell.  

I wait in the rain and listen to the whispering rain drops… Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop.

Tiny droplets amalgamate into larger tears that run down my face. The bars are crying for me. I can taste the sweet relish in my mouth: a tinge of freedom – but then, it’s gone. Gone, just like me.

I no longer exist; I have disappeared. Just like the once lively droplets from the sky – with the limitless freedom to grace the earth; to exist. But my liberty has been stripped away from me; I am a nonexistent prisoner wasting away in a God-forsaken cell.

What has happened to the passionate speaker of fairness and democracy? What has happened to the fighter of justice in me? Justice? What is justice? That word seems strange yet familiar to me. It has disappeared.  

How ironic. I have always thought that they were guardians sent from heaven to protect us, to ensure our justice.

But I was wrong. We were all wrong. They turned out to be evil, corrupted beings that sow the seeds of silent destruction and prejudice in society.  

I was a young man then, albeit a vocal and observant one. The greedy goblins dug their gold deep in the taxpayers’ pockets and kept it in their secret vaults. There came a time when we finally decided to remind the goblins that it was we who elevated them to their throne.

So we started to speak out loud. We went on a strike. We campaigned. We protested. We demonstrated. All in the name of democracy. But the goblins were ruthless and firm in their rule; people began to disappear. One by one, vanishing without a trace. And then it was me. They were adept at their vanishing tricks – they wanted me to be silent. So, here I am. Alone in a cold cell. Waiting for the moment when I can hold my wife’s hands again.  

Yes. I have a family. A glimpse of the sun shines through the bars of the cell window and lands on an old photograph in my hand. A lovely-looking lady wearing a white-laced dress flashes her gentle smile – oh, I miss you so much, dear Ai Ling. I can still remember the day when we walked down the aisle; the wedding bells were ringing, and you were the most beautiful bride I have ever seen in my entire life, and ever will.

It hurts me to think that the last thing I have said to you is, “You don’t understand.” You told me not to go. You told me to stay for the sake of our child. Our child who sleeps in your womb. You wished that we could live a simpler life; you have given up fighting, you have given up hope.

But there is still hope, my dear. I am going to fight for you. I am going to fight for our child. I am going to fight for our community. I will speak up against oppression; I will defend the rights of the people; I will protest against the brutal dictate.  

The raindrops on the prison wall remind me of your tears, Ai Ling, when I left our home to join the street protest. Oh dear… After all these years… you must have thought I have disappeared, just like everyone else. However, I am still alive, darling. I am still here. In this prison cell.

Where are you now, Ai Ling? Are you sleeping soundly with our baby at home? Are you still looking for me? Or have you forgotten me?

I hope you have not obliterated me from your life, for I persist to live for you. I persist to live for our family – our daughter. Is she growing healthily? I’m sorry for having to miss all those precious years of watching our baby grow up. But she will understand why I did what I did. Why I sacrificed my liberty. I hope our child will understand I was trying to build a better world for her. A world where all families reunite. A world, where justice prevails.

I still wait in the rain. Waiting to savour the taste of freedom and reunion. As the cold fog floats into my dark prison cell, I think: Someday, I’ll be free. Someday. Someday…


 Selangor Times



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