Second

I was heading to the baggage carousel when I glanced at the waiting area on my right side. My heart jumped when I saw my parents waving. I stopped at belt 26 to wait for my luggage. While waiting, I kept staring at them. I waved once in a while. My excitement turned me into impatience. “Why is this carousel so slow? It’s wasting my time. It’s been six years!” This was my very first vacation home since I started working as a migrant domestic worker.

I remember vividly how she stared at me. She was a skinny little girl, wearing a pink floral dress. Out of the blue, she asked me, “Are you my mama?” I was taken aback. As I looked at her, tears flowed down my cheeks. I realized she had not seen me for six years. I left her when she was two years old.

“Yes, I am.” I tried to say with a smile.

“You’re beautiful.” She said with excitement on her face.

This was an unforgettable conversation with her 21 years ago. She is now 28, but I am still working in Singapore.

I have three children. Airra is my second child and my only daughter. One night, on one of my vacations home, she came to my bed where I was lying and laid down on my lap.

“Ma, can you help me find an employer in Singapore?”

I was stunned.

“No!” My answer was firm. 

“Why?” She asked.

“Seriously? Don’t be a second me! Don’t follow my footsteps. Look at your children. They’re almost the same age as when I left you and your brothers. It was because your father didn’t fulfil his responsibilities. But your life is different from mine.”

She stared at her three children. They were all sound asleep. Her husband was on his way home from work.

I continued, “You had a second chance in relationships. You have met the right man. He is a very responsible husband and father to your children. They need you here. Don’t leave them. Don’t let them experience the life that you had when you were growing up. Do you understand?”      

She did not say a word after that. As the night wore on, she fell asleep on my lap. I gazed at her with love. She is still my little daughter, no matter how old she is.

“I will not let you be a second me.”  I whispered to her.

Bhing Navato

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