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Almost Lost - A poem by Grace Ong

“Almost Lost!” a poem by Grace Ong, 15 year old, was inspired by Michael’s birth story. The poem takes the perspective from Michael’s eldest brother Kek Kong, who at a tender age of 12, faced the consequences of poverty but gave a courageous fight for survival. 

Almost Lost!

May 7, 1969
My mother looks tired
She is pregnant
With the seventh child.

We already have enough
Three boys and three girls
We don’t need another
My mother says.

We don’t have much money
So we don’t know if the baby is a boy or girl
My mother doesn’t know what to do.

July 26, 1969
She drinks and swallows weird things
Red pills, and black coloured water-
Chinese medicine.
It will make me feel better, she says.

She doesn’t seem better
My mother looks unwell
She’s aborting the baby
The medicine is going to kill it.

No, you can’t do that
I say in my heart
I don’t dare tell her though.

August 14, 1969
My mother is terribly ill
Overdose of medicine
She has a bad stomachache
Even though we have not much money
We still send her to the hospital.

This is dangerous
The doctor says shaking his head
You not only can kill your baby, but yourself too
He scolds my mother.

My mother’s energy is drawn
She must carry the baby to full term
I almost lost my mother
and also a new sister or brother.

January 16, 1970
It’s time
My mother is in great pain.
The baby is to be born at home
We have no money for a doctor.

My grandmother is the midwife
My mother is struggling
The baby isn’t coming out
I wonder if it will be okay.

My mother screams in pain
Almost like a miracle
The baby finally comes out
It’s a boy
Everyone exclaims.

He’s not crying
Aren’t all newborns supposed to cry?
The clock is ticking
And we wait.

We finally hear his first breath
He’s finally crying
The baby is okay
We almost lost him.

We don’t need another one
My mother says again and again
We have no money
No food for him.

January 17, 1970
My parents have a plan
My baby brother is to be given away
A wealthy buddhist family
He will have a better life
My parents say.

I can’t take it any longer
How could my parents do this?
This baby is my brother
Not just an object.

I will jump off this building
If you give my brother away
I threaten my parents
I cannot lose him.

I will quit school
Work hard and buy milk for him
If you let him stay
I will not lose him.

My brother is kept
He will be okay
I almost lost him —
Three times
But he doesn’t know
One day he will lose me.

Steven Kek Kong Ong
26/12/ 1957 - /11/1999, Age 42

Grace Ong, enjoys creative works like writing poems, song and music. She is a student at Concordia International School. She loves a good game of soccer and basketball, and being silly with her friends.

April / Author & Editor

Trung tâm Tham vấn, Nghiên cứu và Phát triển Cộng đồng (CoRE) là tổ chức phi chính phủ, phi lợi nhuận được thành lập năm 2013, hoạt động dưới sự bảo trợ của Doanh nghiệp Xã hội Tea Talk Việt Nam.

Coprights @ CoRE 2013,