His relationship with his mother did not get any better, who every day in a querulous voice would remind him that he was better off dead. Even a willow tree with roots that run deep cannot withstand the constant onslaught of wind and lightning, and will eventually wizen, and so with his spirit utterly battered, Wesley finally believed the words of his own mother. One afternoon, he reached for a sharp knife and slit his wrist. Blood ran from his wrist, staining his wheelchair and the floor with a cruel red. He slit his wrist again, and again. He then drifted into unconsciousness.
When he awoke, Wesley was in a hospital ward. Realising that his suicide attempt had failed, that the white curtains about him were not bright white lights, that he had not come before God, he felt a wave of sadness crash over him. Months later, he would again essay to end his life, this time popping some forty pills. It was a horrible way to die: Instead of passing out immediately, he kept throwing up. Again, he was admitted into the hospital, and had to have his stomach pumped. His doctor and mother came to a mutual decision to send him to the mental institution, and it was a decision that shook him to his core. He pleaded with and promised the doctor he would never attempt suicide again, and the latter acquiesced to letting him stay with his family.
Why his mother did not wait and just let him die he did not know, and perhaps never will.
Making a living for himself
Now an adult, Wesley often felt ennui and yearned to get a job. Spurred on by the words of his late grandmother, he knew he had to learn to be independent. He began hawking tissue paper on the streets, though like his life it was not an easy path. In Singapore, one has to be the age of forty to obtain a licence, and Wesley was many years shy. His application and subsequent appeals were rejected, and he had no choice but to carry on his business illegally. Even when he finally had his licence approved, he had many hoops to jump through. Officers would clamp down on him and his peers whenever they ventured outside their allocated areas to sell their wares. The penalty, even today, is a staggering three-hundred-dollar fine.
While selling on the streets, Wesley often had to endure hurtful remarks such as “You’re a Chinese! You’re from China! Why are you selling tissue paper on the streets!”; some even questioned if he was faking his disability, egging him on to stand up. At the end of each work day, his clothes would be fusty from the sweat. Despite the gruelling work, he would not have it any other way, for Wesley wants to earn his own keep.
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