The Prodigal Son

I wrote this for Project Listen a while back and I’m re-posting it on my blog so it can be kept as an archive. Cheers to my family for enduring me all this while and I’m glad I have a chance to make it all right.


I’ve always felt that I haven’t been doing much for my family. I’ve put them through a lot – it all started when I went to New Zealand as a permanent resident to do my high school in Christchurch. I was 15 then and quite very extremely rebellious.

The freedom I had there pushed my rebellious nature to new heights, and I got involved in drugs, gangs, etc etc – basically your “regular” teenage rebellion multiplied by a billion in intensity.

reverse mohawk

That was more than 15 years ago and although I came to my senses I still never quite bonded with my family, creating more burden and causing more stress instead of what I was supposed to do as a filial son.

I can safely say that during my career as a professional human lab rat, I’ve tried more drugs that the vast majority of other users, sourcing for not just common drugs like heroin and methamphetamine but exotic research chemicals like 6-APB, UR-144 and 5-MeO-MiPT which most people have never even heard of, much less tried.


I was arrested for drug possession when I was 24 and appeared on many newspapers, some with extremely detailed information about me, which must have caused my parents a lot of grief. I’ve also went through rehab three times and been hospitalized countless times – overdoses, ICU admissions from permanent renal and liver damage, suicide attempts during psychotic breaks.

It was chaotic.

night out

I’ve never felt that I’ve contributed much to the family and I was never really close with them even as I got older. I was in Sibu for a period of time and even then I’m always out with friends when I’m back home for the holidays and coming home just to sleep. I’ve even brought girls back in the middle of the night for noisy drunken sex and wake up the next afternoon to shower together…

…in my parents house!

I never thought of how disrespectful I was being.

I never though of how much I hurt their feelings.

I never even communicate much with them – most of the conversation goes one way – with me talking about the latest exotic drugs I’ve tried, the inevitable escapades with police that I’ve gotten away with, the girls that I’ve fucked.

I never really listened to what their needs are. It took me a loooong time before I started becoming more attuned to their needs. I’m ashamed to even put a year to when I stopped. I shudder to even think about what I’ve done now.

…but like the Biblical story, my parents have always been believed in me despite my numerous flaws and downright disgusting behavior.

My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010 and it was only then that I understood what family meant. The way our family pulled together to support her as she went through multiple surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions taught me what being related was all about.

I’ve always thought of my mom as a nag, and didn’t spend much time listening to her at all.


However, since the diagnosis, it just struck me how fast the years fly by and how little time we actually have together as a family unit.

I regret not spending more time with my mom, and I started to realize that the “relationship” that I have was basically non-existent – I was just being selfish.

I started to really spend time with my parents at that point. Instead of just gaudily flaunting my sexual exploits, I started to listen more to what they have to say. I developed a genuine interest in their life and well being.


Hell, I even start to worry about them.

I talk to them more instead of the obligatory weekly check in phone call to make sure I’m not dead or in jail.

I listen and try to get them to talk about their problems.

lung cancer

We eat together when I’m back home instead of me heading out which sad to say was common until as late as 2008.

I lounge in the living room after and chat about everything – news, politics, religion – with my parents instead of skipping out and coming home drunk in the middle of the night.

I understood the importance of just hanging out with my family – listening instead of just talking, helping out with chores at home, comforting my mom when she’s throwing up.

It’s made us into a better family unit.


I just received a birthday card from my parents (it was somehow lost until a few days ago) and it nearly brought tears to my eyes when I realized that they’ve mailed me one every single year without fail while I barely remember their birthdays.

I am truly ashamed of how I’ve behaved and I’m trying my level best to be a better son now. I visit my mom in Singapore more often, where she’s having her treatments done. We all chip in to help – not just financially but emotionally.

I really want to save up enough money to bring my parents for a trip around the world.

simple meal

They’ve worked hard in raising us and my dad still works hard and I think it would be the least that I can do. I’m actually being extremely frugal right now – limiting the times I go out, being careful with spending, saving up money so I can help out with the medical bills and especially to let my parents visit the world.

They’ve always saved up for our education and it’s time for us to give back

Not because of some attempt to seek forgiveness for past transgressions.

Not because of my ongoing mother’s fight against cancer.

Not because of guilt.

It’s because I want to, out of the love I have for them.


I want them to know that someone cares, someone always will, and that someone is FAMILY.

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26 thoughts on “The Prodigal Son”

  1. i read ur original post on proj listen and i still feel touched reading this.
    ur a special person hb..take care of ur life first then take care of ur parents.
    there r ppl who care for u here.

    • Thanks Siew Leng!

      Yup, I’ll do that, it’s what I’m doing now – one step at a time.

      We are still learning. 🙂

      Cheers for the support! 🙂

  2. most of us went through all those rebellious moment and our parents never once leave no matter how wrong we did. so we shall never leave them when they’re old too.

    i was closer to dad cos mami was so annoying so controlling and i hated her i wanted to run away from home ( i have my fair share of rebellion!). i always said hurtful words to her. and then one day my uncle who’s only at his 30s past away after lung surgery. then i realised life’s so unpredicted and short, you’ll never know when they are leaving us or maybe i’ll be leaving them. it’s like grown up overnight!

    i am glad that our relationship as a family getting better now. maybe because i am staying away from home, i treasure the moment of togetherness more now. 🙂

    • Yeah, it is sad.

      Alas, the burden children pose on their parents…I wonder if I’m strong enough to do it when the time comes.

      I must though.

      Thanks bro. 🙂

  3. u write really well (even if you seem given to drama sometimes lol). your mom seems like a very steady person and your dad seems like a stud. they look like they will be very happy just to see you home more. it’s very touching that they send you birthday cards every single year. you have great parents.


    • Cheers mate! 🙂

      Heh! Well, just articulating my feelings. I have a lot of things that I want to say, my mind is so much clearer now that I’m off opiates.

      Yup, I have the most wonderful parents, I’m lucky to have them. 🙂

      Thanks for the support and encouragement mate. 🙂

  4. Frankly, I would not consider you as a prodigal son…just a son like any other, one that had gone through troubled times, growing up. Every child is different, each uniquely different and every child has his or her own needs – no two can be the same. What is good for the goose may not be good for the gander, what works with one may not work for the other. Such things may happen to the best of us but the most important thing is that you’ve gone through those difficult times and the onus now is upon you to live your life the best you can…for yourself, not for your parents, not for anybody else. You owe it to yourself to be happy, Huai Bin…and I am sure there are many who would want you to.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence buddy! 🙂

      Yup, I agree with you, each child is different with different needs.

      Yeah, that’s the thing, now that I’ve gone through those difficult times, it’s time for me to make things less so for myself and my parents.

      Cheers for that mate. I want to be happy too, just some things I need to clear out – was a mess for a lot of years and it’s taken me a while to un-condition certain things in life especially with regards to relationships.

      I want to have kids too and be there for them.

      Cheers buddy and all the best to your family too! 🙂

    • Hey that is a wonderful video! 🙂

      I watched it in Genting and it’s a real tear jerker. The Thais make the best commercials.

      Very, very touching indeed – and with a note of hard boiled grittiness too, that little bit of realism behind the teenage girl’s rebellion.

      Thanks for sharing mate! 🙂

  5. HB, not only you made mistake in life I did also. I was caught in middle school at the mall store for shoplifting. I did it as a dare with my so called then friend. My mother came all the way to store and talked to store detective and saw video of what happen. I had worked many weeks in babysitter to make money to paid fine from the store.

    Mom will not do so saying “I did the crime I do the time”. My so called friend have to go to court a few years later pay bigger fine for store lawyer and what she done. Mom wanted to bandage my hand for stealing but no just work it off instead. Dad did not know other wise he would beat the hell out of me.

    • I’m sorry to hear that Vickie!

      I guess that’s a process a lot of people go through. There was a lot of pressure to do that too when I was a teenager but I never succumbed, it never appealed to me, I guess I just jumped straight to more extreme illegal activities.

      (substance use is not illegal in my eyes, but unfortunately dealing is, not matter how you justify it to yourself e.g. sustaining my habit was #1 on my list)

      Glad you’re okay now! 🙂

  6. Such a heartfelt piece. They will be more than surprised and touched when you finally materialize your plan. All the best in fulfilling your dream of taking your parents around the world! I know you can do it if you put your heart (and money lol!) into it, Huai Bin 😀

    • Yeah, I’ve missed writing about how I truly feel, I shall do that more in the Sixthseal FB page, some thoughts and muses about my situation and how it is.

      Encouragements to fellow people who’ve quit the drug lifestyle too.

      Thanks for the support Jessica! 🙂

      I appreciate that.

  7. Honestly? It is a sad. I feel for your parents. Every single thing you did, I can feel how it broken pieces of your parent’s heart. To be absolutely honest, you have very decent parents. You obviously write well but it is now time to walk your talk and you don’t need to say it out loud or to boast about anything. Just do it and hopefully you’ve realise how silly you were in the past. It’s not over yet huai bin, don’t ever ever think that you have arrived and you have put your past behind you. It’s all for you to prove it ahead and the road is a very long one. And I agree with situapui. If there is anything, DO IT FOR YOURSELF. That’s all your parents will want to see too – that you do good in life for yourself and not anybody else.

    • Yeah, I know mate. 😡

      I feel sad for them too.

      However, that’s the past as you mentioned, it’s time to move forward now. 🙂

      I also agree with STP – it’s now to do it for myself and also my parents.

      Doing good is supposed to spread out – I like how my dad puts it (although this is in the context of religion) – first, pray for yourself, then you can start to pray for others.

      I asked him that when I told him it’s really hard for me to pray for others.

      I do try though and that’s what’s important.

      Cheers mate! 🙂

  8. Parents will never give up on their children. I’m glad your parents never gave up on you, and also you never gave up on yourself.

    Life experiences make one stronger, and also make one a better person. I’m also glad your parents are still here to see you straighten yourself out and I’m glad to read about the strong bond between you and your family. Cherish every single moment you have with them!

    Thanks for this post. Makes me realise that I really should call my parents more often and tell them that I love them.

    As always, your honestly strikes a chord in me.

    All the best, HB!

    • Indeed! That’s what the Greeks call agape – unconditional love.

      I’m sure a lot of parents are like that.

      I would be one too, it’s all about continuous improvement.

      Yeah, in this case what doesn’t kill you actually does make you stronger – life experiences I mean.

      Thanks for reading Jyannis! 🙂

  9. You are very lucky and it is surely not too late for you to catch up.. great job!

    Many just lost their parents from young or even never have someone to look up to, let alone family bondage that seems normal to everyone else, they survive! Difficult to imagine right…?

    Life is destined to be challenging for some but they shall become a better ones in the end…

  10. HB hope you now know why your mother is a nagger to you? Perhaps u r the only son also. Might b today u r feeling guilty already that you are a bit too late for ur mum. right? But some how do remember ur Dad’s hardwork now… ngive him the best. as u can. We all know ur parents…they r well known educators n even our schoolmates b4 esp. ur mum n ur aunty too… i mean ur mum’s sister.

    U r at least confessing out.. good boy! keep up the life..


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