My Camelot has crumbled. 1998 was the year that almost inexistent in my life and it has affected almost everybody I knew in the industry. It is almost absurd to focus myself into writing anything at all. However, I still remember my brother Eman Manan’s wishful words one night somewhere in December 1997.

“Di dalam zaman kesusahan, akan lahir karya dan karyawan besar”. Yes, based on history, it is true what he said. Promoedya Anantatoer written his Keluarga Gerilya during his worst moments in life and so did all the local National Laureate. Even today, we still read about it, about how J.K. Rowling wrote her first of the Harry Porter success during the worst moment of her life. But there I am, trying to consult myself and appealed to my mind to come with some sort of idea to kick-start my life again. But the message I got was, due to the current economic situation, the light at the end of the tunnel is shut down until further notice. So, I was left hanging there, staring at the pitch black tomorrow.

As my saving already dried out, I was left appreciating the welfare services provided by my in-laws. My father-in-law would slip twenty ringgit somewhere and once he reaches the office, he would call my wife and told her to ask me to use the money for my lunch and my cigarette. He would drive back to Johore every Friday, so we have the place and the privacy to ourselves.

As everyday pass by, I started to becoming more and more sensitive. The feeling of insecurity demoralised you to a level of not even leaving you with any guts to look at people in the eyes anymore.

I tried my best to keep the housework to myself. At least that is what is left for me to do. Laundry, cooking, gardening, sweeping and mopping the house are those things that kept me going.

One evening, a simple sarcasm from my wife cause so much damage to my already bruised pride that I left the house. After five hours of non-stop walking around Petaling Jaya, I came to realise that I actually have nowhere to go. I tried to run away but where? I have no friends left in town. I have no money to even buy a bus ticket to go to my sister’s place. Even if I have the money, I wouldn’t do that. I would not leave my son. I did promise myself long time ago that I will always be there for my kids. I will not abandon them and let them grow up not knowing how to love me.

It is so difficult to learn that you only have yourself to blame. As reality strike my consciousness. I pace my way home while confronting myself, I told myself, “You have no pride. You are an idiot. You are nothing but a useless bugger. You cannot even pay for you child’s milk and you cannot even provide a shelter for your family. You live on the mercy of your wife and her family. Go back home and be what you are, an idiot”.
The next day, I tried to hide my tears from my two years old kid. I covered my face with my hand. He thought I am playing peek-a-boo with him and removed my hand from my face, “Cak Aaa”, he said. I grabbed him and hugged him tightly. I made my promise to him. “One day, Abah shall come out of this and Abah hopes it will be soon so you will not have the luxury of remembering it”.

I draft a plan of my own, I planned to do some odd jobs but again, I realised that under that circumstances, staying at home and be a full-time househusband was the most economically correct for me to do at that time. Whatever job I take, will mean I have to send my son to childcare centre which was much costly and will not be worth the payment I might get from the job.

It was exactly a year before I finally received the call I have been waiting all the while. I grabbed the job without even asked for a single cent more than what being offered to me. A job that I will surely turn down prior to this period in my life.