A Cinderella Story
My father was in jail when I was born. He was wronged for something he did not do, and because of that, I was labelled a ‘jinx’ until the age of 25 when he passed on.
It was a real 'Cinderella' story. I was the older sibling, but the ‘jinxed’ one. On the contrary, when my younger sister was born four years later, my father struck first prize in the lottery!
Hence my jinx status remained, and I had to do everything in the house, from washing my father's grease-stained uniform, which meant soaking it in strong chemicals every day, to dealing with my younger sister, and protecting my mother from getting hit by my violent dad.
There were many more incidents that should never have happened to a young child below 10. I had to lie countless times when my mother visited the gambling dens, as my father hated that hobby of hers. And it was, not surprisingly, the place where I spent most of my 'childhood'!
Christmas is and will always remain as a special day for me.
Despite being the neglected child, there were “three angels” in my life -- My cousins.
They worked as nurses, and would bring me to Mount Alvernia every year for Christmas parties, and there would be presents for me.
What I loved in those moments were the laughter, hugs, gifts, kisses, smiles, delicious food and simply the atmosphere of love and joy all around.
People there loved children, and Christmas was the day where happy and fortunate people remembered poor souls - like me - in need of love and food.
Christmas therefore represents ‘love’ to me and Jesus is the reason for this love to be celebrated.
It was also these cousins who taught me how to pray. The idea of Jesus and love, was simple enough for a five-year-old to understand, and since then I had never stopped praying to Jesus.
Learning to pray and not to hate
God was always there when I was in trouble. Even for the smallest thing like when I broke a bowl, I would quickly pray hard that my father would not cane me.
When I was growing up, I had a conscience and my guardian angel, both of which I recognised were placed in my life by God. It was this guiding force that taught me not to hate. My little sister often got me into trouble, resulting in punishments from my father, but I would instead pray for God to protect and take care of my sister.
Hearing the story about the ‘Kom Kom’, a ghost who kidnaps children, I even prayed to God that Kom Kom would take me away instead of my sister, as my father and mother would be devastated since they loved my sister dearly. With my childlike and unselfish reasoning, Kom Kom should take me as it would not hurt my parents. A child's innocence indeed.
* Kom Kom was rumoured to be a Malay ghost that took away children and chopped their heads to build Benjamin Sheares Bridge.
Finding God and Serving Him
Secondary school was the time when I began to search vigorously for a ‘home’ to be with God. I had been to Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist, Charismatic, Baptist, and many other Churches.
It was only when I arrived in the Church of the Holy Family in Katong, and upon opening the door of its main entrance, that I finally felt, "I am Home".
I was baptised in 1995 at the age of 25. Despite having been a Sunday Catholic for many years, I started to serve as a catechist this year.
Now, I teach many children to pray and share God’s love with them.
I love children and believe that though they do not have a choice of who their parents are, parents do have a choice of bringing an innocent life into the world!
Perhaps I am also in the toys business for a reason, and God has blessed me here so that I can give joy and all I can to all children.
Sometimes, friends think of me as ‘lucky’, after some good incident or after a successful business deal, but they did not know what my childhood was like.
Despite my past, the joy in being God's instrument today makes me feel worthy and treasured. I believe it is Him who has led me through all these years, watching me closely, teaching me to love and pray.
Jessica at work, providing products and toys for children.
As I grow closer to Him, I now look forward to serve God in even more ways, and my desire is that children will be happy and come to know God!
Psalm 23 is my favourite passage from the Bible.
PSALM 23 - A reflection of my soul
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long. (NRSVCE)
Sharing by Jessica Tang, OLPS parishioner and Catechist.
The views and recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the priests of the parish or the Catholic Church of Singapore.