My mother was still going to work daily while going through conventional and alternative treatments.

I remember the night before she had to go to school to meet my teacher for Report Card Day. She had asked me to pick out something I’d like her to wear, and I picked out an office suit – a smart jacket and skirt set in pastel pink. When she walked into my classroom the next day, she had many compliments from my classmates. I remember how proud I was of my mother – of her strength and beauty.

After collecting my report card and on our journey home, I said to her, “I wish you could drive me to and fro school and home every day.” With sadness in her eyes, she gently told me that it was impossible. I nodded my head and mumbled a, “Yeah, I know.” I guess in those days, most of my friends’ mums were homemakers. They ferried their children to school, packed lunches from home, arranged tuition and music lessons, etc. While I had a small yearning within that she’d be one of those mums, a bigger part of me was immensely proud of her for being just the way she was.

I was 14.

I’m not sure if this was normal teenage behaviour, but I had 2 distinct personalities: one in the day when I was at school, and another when I got home in the evenings. At school, I was hanging out with the popular, rowdy crowd, often spewing foul language in Cantonese (mum would have flipped had she known, as she was a proper St. Mary’s School girl!) but the moment I alight from the school bus, I would turn into the obedient girl who never left her homework undone. So, on one hand, I was a good student who did well in school, but on the other, I was a complete Ah Lian.

Thankfully, I didn’t stay an Ah Lian for too long. 😂

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