Alden Boon

Bankruptcy, Divorce and Loss of His Son: How Jimmy Ong Restarted His Life after Hitting Rock Bottom



Hope is a double-edged thing  

Despite two major operations and thirty-three radiotherapy sessions, the tumour continued to debilitate Shaun’s health and sap his energy, and by now his days were no longer measured in minutes or hours, but in intensities of pain. Often he would writhe in excruciating agony. When Shaun needed to relieve himself, Jimmy with Shaun’s friends had to carry him aloft for thirty minutes, and even then, he could empty only a few gouts of urine. He was in and out of the hospital, one intravenous catheter after another intruding his body.

One day, after reading that amygdalin, which abounds in apricot kernels, was used as an alternative cancer treatment, Jimmy headed to the supermarket, and laid his hands on all the apricots he could find. He then asked the cashier where he could get more, and was referred to the wholesaler. When he reached the warehouse, he asked the employee how many boxes they had on stock, and that he wanted to buy them all — a declaration that stumped the latter for nobody ever needed so many apricots. “I told her the apricots were for my dying son, and that I was trying to save his life. Tears welled up in her eyes. She then told me that if all I needed were the seeds, there’s no need to buy the fresh ones. She then directed me to the withered ones.

Bankruptcy, Divorce and Loss of His Son How Jimmy Ong Rebuilt His Life after Hitting Rock Bottom nedla

When I asked her ‘how much?’ for the goods, she said, ‘Take them for free, go do whatever you need to do to save your son.’ My heart was filled with so much gratitude! How blessed was I to have met such a kind person! Tears were running down my cheek as I packed the kernels.”

At home, Jimmy began pulverising the seeds, his heart kindled by hope. He then fed the ground medicine to Shaun, but after the third spoonful, the latter could not stomach the pungent note. Jimmy’s home treatment had come to an abrupt end, though he need not had bothered — that amygdalin has any effect on cancer is a medical myth long been debated. But as a parent in deep grief, watching his son slip away, believing in the alternative remedy was the only tincture of control he had in such a helpless situation. Perhaps he was not so useless a father after all: He would be the ember that sparked the fire, not standing idly by as his precious son fought tooth and nail against death.

Dear God

Then an agnostic, Jimmy often sought divine intervention for solace, hoping for salvation from an adversity that was holding him under water with its very hand. He went to a Chinese temple, and received a divination lot whose words timely and uplifting spoke to him. It also told of the coming of a saviour, born under the golden rooster zodiac, who would heal Shaun. Like a nosy reporter encroaching on the personal lives of celebrities, Jimmy began asking every doctor, every nurse, every person that crossed Shaun’s path for his or her birth sign. No luck. The saviour had not yet revealed himself.

During Shaun’s frequent hospital stays, many people of all religions came and prayed for him, including a Christian youth group from the Church of Ascension that heard of his plight through his principal. The youth pastor and his members would visit Shaun often, helping him with ablutions, waiting till he was lucid before singing and praying with him. “As they sang, Shaun would drum his fingers to the music, his eyes closed, a smile on his face. That one smile would make my entire day. Their love flowed through Shaun, and it was greater than any pain he felt.”

Then, upon the recommendation of his relatives, Jimmy went to see a highly-revered master. “At our first meeting, the master said he saw that the spirit of a young boy was following Shaun, and asked if Shaun had witnessed any accident before.” Then, the master prophesied that Shaun would be okay, if he had a mole on his back. There it was, a hitherto insignificant, barely-visible mole, that Jimmy found as he lifted his son’s shirt. Now so utterly imbued with hope, Jimmy asked the master about his zodiac sign. “Golden rooster,” came the answer, and at that Jimmy swelled with elation. This God with whom he had no relationship had answered his prayer. Everything was going to be okay: Shaun would be the miracle who survives last-stage cancer.

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.