“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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”