The auditorium was filled with anticipated audiences waiting for the next star to blossom from the competition. It was overwhelmed with excitement and screeching from rabid fans supporting their idol. I felt no pressure, partly because I knew I had no one in the audience to back me up, and the second reason was because it was my last chance to prove to the world of my singing prowess. Even then, I felt a little nervous. It was my first time performing in front of thousands of audiences.
As I walked up the stage, my hands were trembling like a leaf; my overly drenched t-shirt plastered against my back, leaving no room for ventilation; droplets of perspiration dripping their way down from my forehead like a faulty tap water, and I could feel as if a 500 pound object weighing down on my shoulders. Walking towards the microphone stand, I could feel a thousand pairs of eyes arrowing towards me. Fear gripped me like never before. My heart was palpitating incredibly fast, so fast that it’d skipped a beat. However at the back of my mind, underlying all these little distractions that might ripped me off my opportunity, I knew I had one ultimate goal- which is to sing my song well to win the competition. To some other people, they had many options available, but to me, I had none.
‘If…I…I…I…, should stay…’
As I sang the first verse of the classic rendition of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, tears instantly welled up in my eyes. A sudden gush of emotions overwhelmed me. Pain. Sorrow. Dejection. Loss. Hope. Betrayal. At lightning’s speed, a stream of past events came racing through my mind. No one knew my predicaments; not a single one in the audience would know what this twenty one year-old, plump, unkempt, raggedly clad boy had gone through. No one knew how insecure and ill confident I felt. No one knew that this young boy was the one going to win the competition. No one knew I was just an ordinary boy with a incredibly big dream. And no one knew my mother just went to heaven twenty minutes before then.
‘And I…Will Always…Lo..ve You…’
Singing the last sentence of the song sent droplets of crystal-clear tears streaming down my cheeks. That was the most honest 3-minute moment in my life. The audiences were bewildered by my unique and original rendition of Whitney Houston’s cover. At the end of my performance, the silence that filled the entire hall for the past 3 minutes was replaced by loud applause and unexplainable cheering. Many of the audiences, even the most down-to-earth judge Simon Cowale, known for his blunt and often controversial criticisms, stood up clapping for me. That feeling was beyond words to describe. I knew then it was the beginning of my new journey.
Born into a broken family, with my parents legally divorced since I was 10-years-old, I was brought up single-handedly by my mother. For the past eleven years, my memory fails to recall that vivid image I had in mind of my dad. I knew that there was no point yearning for his return. He was a scumbag. He abused us both physically and mentally. He drank. He gambled all day. He sold drugs. He hardly provided for the family and even tried selling me to a brothel when I was six. I wouldn’t be able to decipher all these until I turned sixteen when my mother told me the harsh reality of my upbringing.
Growing up, my mother worked as a laborer for a rubber factory. Money has always been an issue and we have relocated ourselves more than 14 times for the past 11 years. Even then, we were very close. The close bond that we had was simply impossible to break. She knew what I wanted in life; she was always there for me- when I am sick, when I feel down, when I felt insecure for all the insignificance this world has imposed on me, when I was bullied in school for my lack in physical attractiveness, when I wanted to pursue my dream as a professional singer. There was one thing that she told me that will never faint in my mind that is to ‘dream as high as the sky, believe in myself with all my heart, and make it happen’.
On our way to the competition venue, my mother had thought that I needed some water so that I could sing with greater ease. Out of my own selfishness, I let her cross the road to go to the grocery store. Little did I know an approaching massive truck was speeding its way towards her and within seconds, I saw with my very own eyes, my mother’s petite body slapped against the window panel of the truck; it slammed so hard that I could hear a loud thug and her body was flung 20-metres off the road. Her body was floating in a pool of blood. My body was trembling; my hands were shaking like a generator. I was at a loss for words. I was crying like a helpless baby, while shouting for help. Tears were streaming endlessly down my face as though I could feel every bit of her agonizing pain. ‘Mother! Mother! Don’t leave me! I Love You…Mother!’
‘Go…son…cha..se…yo..ur… dream…’ She muttered under her breathe. That was her last words for me.
As I glance across my baronial mansion with my usual cup of Baltimore in my hand, all those thoughts come flashing through my mind. ‘What use have I got with hundreds of servants in my house? What use have I got now to be in the 2012 Forbes list?’ For the umpteenth time, just thinking about my mom’s sacrifice for me, a teardrop starts trickling down my face. I look up to heaven and say a prayer, ‘Mom, thank you for what you’ve done. I will always love you. ‘