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About Martha

By Wai Ho Liu

Copyright Wai Ho Liu 1999

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Chloe lay peacefully, culled up in my arms, sleeping. Mrs Bichel must feel so lucky to have such a beautiful grand daughter. She is just so beautiful, reminds me of Martha.

Poor Martha, I hope wherever she is now, she is happy. I love her dearly, even now. It’s such a shame, all the things that happened to her.

The trouble began when she was a teenager. Her father, my husband, had died when she was only young and she lived with me in a small suburban house. But as she got older, she started hanging around with the wrong crowd, being influenced by the wrong people.

She started going out a lot and didn’t come home till late. Some nights, she didn’t come home at all. She never told me what she did or where she went. She just said that she just went to a friend’s place and ‘hung out’. I asked her once if she took drugs and she told me in the most sincere manner that she never had. I believed her. She was my daughter and I trusted her. Maybe I was too trusting. Maybe I was just a bad mother.

I got a little suspicious one night when she arrived home completely drunk and smelling of smoke and booze. The next day, I decided to search her room and got a little shock when I found in a drawer, a bag of marijuana and a condom.

When she came home, I demanded that she explain herself. Instead, she reacted angrily and accused me of invading her privacy. I suppose she did have a point and that I was invading her privacy but what was a mother supposed to do in that situation? We had a big argument and she ran out of the house. I sat at home and cried.

When she came home two days later, we had a little talk. I said to her "you’re a little older now, you can make your own decisions, but I want you to be careful of the decisions you make." Once again, she sincerely replied that she would be okay. She told me she only took the drugs once to see what it was like and that she would never take it again. I truly believed that it was over.

It wasn’t. A few months later, the neighbour’s kid asked me to get a ball, which was accidentally thrown in my yard. I hardly ever went to my backyard. I hated gardening but Martha liked it. It was one of her good hobbies. Anyway, I retrieved the ball for the little kid and I was on my way back to the house when I noticed a funny plant. Looking closer, I got a terrifying shock. I knew what marijuana plants looked like and I knew I was not mistaken. Martha was not only taking drugs, she was growing them and in my own backyard!

I got really angry and upset. She had lied to me. I had to do something about it and I didn’t know what. I had tried talking and reasoning with her and that didn’t work. I decided to call the cops on her. I didn’t talk to her about it, I just picked up the phone and rang the police. When she came home, the police arrested her and took her to the police station and she was charged. She went to court and ended up getting a criminal record. Looking back in hindsight, I feel stupid that I’d called the police. I just felt that it was the best thing to do for her.

When she came home, I told her I was sorry. She yelled at me and called me names which most daughters would not call their mother. She packed her bags and moved out. I begged her not to leave but she didn’t listen.

It was years before I saw her again. I tried to track her down. I went to her school but I found out she hadn’t been going to school for a long time. I hired a private investigator and eventually, we found her. I realised she had sunk even lower. I found out she had gone onto heavier drugs and had become a heroin addict. She was living under a bridge and was regularly prostituting herself for money to buy more drugs.

I wanted to help her. I begged her to come home and book into a rehabilitation clinic. I think her mind was so messed up that she didn’t even recognise who I was. She just pulled out a syringe and said with blank emotion, "give me all your money."

It’s hard to describe the disappointment you feel, when your own daughter, whom you love, robs you. All I can say is, it was not the best day in my life.

I lost all hope after that. In fact, I went through a nervous breakdown. After that day under the bridge, I never saw Martha again.

Now, I’m old and too tired to think about the past. Occasionally through, I do think about Martha. I wonder what’s doing, if she’s okay, if she’s even still alive.

I never let myself think about her for very long. I don’t even tell anyone I have a daughter. But here, in Mrs. Bichel’s apartment, holding Chloe and seeing Mrs. Bichel’s big smile, it just brings back memories of Martha.

I hope one day, I’ll see her again.

I love her.

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