“My hus­band aban­doned us and left us home­less”

When Mona’s* hus­band ran away with her money and left her and their kids with­out a roof over their heads, she had to learn how to bake to sur­vive. AS TOLD TO AZLINDA SAID

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Cover Reads -

“Dur­ing the 10 years that my hus­band, Jeff*, and I were to­gether, I was a stay-at-home mother to our two chil­dren. I’m not highly ed­u­cated and was de­pen­dent on Jeff, who loved be­ing my ‘hero’. I had lit­tle sav­ings of my own, but I was con­tented. We weren’t rich, but nei­ther were we poor.

Jeff worked in sales. Three years ago, he told me that he’d in­vested in a busi­ness over­seas. Should it take off, he would be mak­ing more money than be­fore. But he would need to travel more of­ten, start­ing that weekend, to su­per­vise the busi­ness. I didn’t ques­tion him – I was happy and ex­cited about our fu­ture.

Long-dis­tance love

Jeff’s reg­u­lar trips over­seas went on for about two years. For the first few months, he only spent week­ends there, com­ing home to the fam­ily on Sun­day nights. But later, he started spend­ing week­days over­seas too, some­times al­most the en­tire week.

He said the project was tak­ing shape and he needed to be on site. ‘Once my busi­ness takes off, I will buy us a big­ger house and hire a maid to help you with the house­hold chores,’ he promised.

I didn’t sus­pect a thing. Jeff never ig­nored me or the kids when he was home, no mat­ter how tired he was. Our sex life wasn’t af­fected ei­ther – we would get in­ti­mate each time he came home. I felt like our mar­riage was at its strong­est.

Empty prom­ises

Early last year, Jeff told me that he was quit­ting his sales job to con­cen­trate on the busi­ness full­time. He also sug­gested sell­ing our four-room HDB flat, to up­grade to a big­ger one.

I had my reser­va­tions at first, but Jeff brushed my wor­ries aside.

We found a buyer for our flat two months later, but had dif­fi­culty find­ing the ideal new home. I be­came wor­ried be­cause we had to va­cate our flat in a month, but had yet to find a new place to live. Jeff promised to con­tinue search­ing.

In the mean­time, he asked that I trans­fer my share of the pro­ceeds from the sale of our flat – a few hun­dred thou­sand – to

his bank ac­count so that he could im­me­di­ately pay the down­pay­ment fee on our new place. I knew noth­ing about hous­ing trans­ac­tions, so I did as he asked. Af­ter all, we were a mar­ried cou­ple – so my money was also his money, I thought.

Dis­ap­pear­ing act

Shortly af­ter that, Jeff trav­elled over­seas for a week. He said that when he re­turned, we could move into our new home. That day was the last time I saw my hus­band.

When he didn’t call or re­turn home af­ter a week, I wor­ried that some­thing had hap­pened to him. When I rang his mo­bile phone, I was shocked to dis­cover that the line had been dis­con­nected. I pan­icked and started call­ing up his fam­ily and friends, but no­body knew where he was. Some of them were sur­prised to hear that he had a busi­ness over­seas – Jeff had never told them about it.

Fear­ing the worst, I cried my­self to sleep ev­ery night for six months. I con­sid­ered mak­ing a po­lice re­port but talked my­self out of it – what if I re­ported him miss­ing and he came home even­tu­ally?

To make things worse, the chil­dren and I had to move out of our flat, with noth­ing but the clothes on our backs and what­ever else I could squeeze into two big suit­cases. I had to leave my fur­ni­ture and ap­pli­ances be­hind – some were bought over by the flat’s new own­ers; I asked them to give or throw away the rest.

For about a month, my chil­dren and I slept in a tent along the beach be­fore I fi­nally found the courage to ask a friend for help. She al­lowed us to stay with her in her tiny apart­ment while I fig­ured out my next move.

Mov­ing on

It’s been a year since Jeff left us in the lurch. My chil­dren and I are now stay­ing in a small rented room. To make ends meet, I bake and sell cakes and sweet snacks. I’m strug­gling to feed my chil­dren and pay the rent, but I’m grate­ful that my land­lord isn’t chas­ing me for it – she un­der­stands my sit­u­a­tion and pities me. Some­times, my friend gives me some money to help me pay my bills.

I’m con­stantly stressed and de­pressed over my bad luck. But I refuse to let my kids be af­fected by my tears. I con­stantly keep them oc­cu­pied so that they won’t have time to think about their fa­ther.

I’m con­sid­er­ing seek­ing help from the Gov­ern­ment, but I don’t know how to go about it. I’m not fussy – I’ll do any de­cent, le­gal job as long as my chil­dren can still go to school and have a good ed­u­ca­tion.

I’m glad that my young ones have stopped ask­ing about their fa­ther. I, too, have stopped cry­ing over him. He just isn’t worth my tears.

A chance meet­ing with an old friend of Jeff’s some months back gave me the an­swers I had been search­ing for. It seemed my ‘per­fect’ hus­band had been un­faith­ful to me all this while. His reg­u­lar vis­its over­seas were to be with his mis­tress. This friend had known about his af­fair all along, but didn’t say any­thing to me as he didn’t want to get in­volved.

He told me that Jeff now had many mis­tresses and was liv­ing it up over­seas. No doubt with my share of the money from our flat, I thought. I was livid, yet felt re­signed to my fate. I con­sid­ered find­ing Jeff to con­front him and beg him to come home. But I was also scared that he would re­ject me, so I gave up on the idea.

Jeff and I are still legally mar­ried. I don’t think I’ll start pro­ceed­ings for a di­vorce un­less he re­turns home and asks me for one. As much as I hate him for what he’s done, there’s also a part of me that still loves him… I still har­bour a sliver of hope that he will re­turn to me one day.”

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