She'd rather crawl than get help

She'd rather crawl than get help
Madam Kalsom Abdullah in a wheelchair being pushed by a neighbour, Mr Tan See Bah. Mrs Joyce Ho (right) occasionally helps her with her baths.

She can no longer walk, so she resorts to crawling around her home.

"The last time I could walk was three years ago. I got a minor stroke. Doctors said I have problems with my joints," Madam Kalsom Abdullah says sadly.

Pointing to her legs, the 76-year-old tells us: "Here pain, there pain. Now very hard to move."

Her hands are calloused from dragging herself on the floor over the years and there are large bruises on her knees.

She stuck a plaster on her left knee to cover an abrasion wound.

"Got this while crawling," she says in Malay with a pained expression.

Despite her problems moving around, she insists that she is perfectly fine.

The wiry woman lives alone in a two-room rental flat in Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, which she shared with her husband until he died six years ago.

Madam Kalsom's daily routine includes sweeping the floors and wiping the furniture because she "doesn't want it to look like other places I have seen in the block".

She makes it a point to take medication for her health problems, which include heart disease, diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome.

On why her four sons and two daughters are not living with her, she says: "My eldest son wants me to stay with him. But I don't want. I like it here.

"They have their own problems and families. Don't need to trouble them."

She does not believe that social services and the neighbourhood's family service centres, which have repeatedly approached her over the years, can help her.

When she does venture out of the flat, it is to attend karaoke sessions and other activities held by Care Corner Family Service Centre at the foot of her block.

Says Madam Kalsom: "I don't care about the karaoke. I go there for the free food. What I need is a person to help me about in the mornings with buying food and moving around. They (social services) can't give that to me."

The programmes they offer are of little use to her, she says. Social workers say her reason for rejecting help is typical of many cases that they handle.

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