I came to Singapore when I was 10 years old. I was born in the UK. My mom worked as a translator in the British government service. My dad was a business manager in an international firm. When Dad's company had to relocate to Singapore, Mom quit her job. We came to Singapore at the end of 1995.
My early life was uneventful. But things started changing after our second year here. Dad's work required him to socialise a lot with clients and investors. Sometimes, he had to accompany them for late-night drinks in pubs and bars. When he returned home drunk, Mom and he would often quarrel. Sometimes, things will get violent. Mom would slap Dad and Dad would push her to the floor and stepped on her. I was too scared to interfere. I would put on my earphones and turn the music from my CD player to full volume.
I was mentally affected by the frequent fights between Mom and Dad. But I had no one to turn to. Being a white boy in a neighbourhood school, I was often bullied. "Oi, ang moh (white guy)! Go back home lah!" they would taunt me. My classmates thought that I come from a rich family. But not all foreign expats are rich. We lived in a HDB flat like many Singaporeans. I eat at hawker centres. I even picked up a little bit of Singlish. But I was never accepted.
The fights at home would continue for many months. Sometimes, Mom would get bruises on her cheeks, neck and arm. "Why don't you go to the police?" I told Mom. But Mom would smile and shake her head. She said that was never an option. It was later on that I realised the real reason. She was afraid that Dad would divorce her and she would have to return to the UK. Mom was determined to stay put here. She has no one and nothing to look forward to back in the UK.
Then, one day, I came home from school and found Mom crying. The bedroom was in a mess. Clothes and other items were strewn on the floor.
"What happened, Mom?" I asked. Mom held my hand and cried, "I'm sorry, Son. I'm sorry."
That day, Mom had another fight with Dad. This time, Dad said he's leaving the house for good. Our world crashed at that moment. I understood what this meant: we had to leave Singapore. The days after were really stressful for me and Mom. But luckily, Mom has a friend who helped her get a job as an administrator in an international school. She got her work pass and could continue living in Singapore.
Even though we were victims of Dad's bouts of violence, things worked out well for me and Mom eventually. I was happy to receive my PR status recently, together with Mom. Singapore is my permanent home now. As for Dad, we had not been in touch anymore. The last I heard, he left for the UK.