No more cricket, just the TV

He now spends time with family in one-room rental flat

Madam Jeleha Haji Said contacted The New Paper in late June, after the couple had to leave their flat for a smaller one following a family dispute.

Our first visit on July 1 was surprising. Here was the hangman, fighting to hold on to lucidity and squeezed into a one-room rental flat in Woodlands shared with their youngest son, a granddaughter and a domestic helper.

Their three adopted children are now grown up and they have three grandchildren. Their daughter pops by once a week while relations with their eldest son are frosty.

Two single beds sit in a corner on the right of the door. A two-seater sofa sits near the front door with a rubber mat on the side that Mr Darshan Singh usually occupies.

Though small, the flat is kept scrupulously clean by the house-proud Madam Jeleha. Visitors are always offered a drink and food must be served on matching cutlery.

There is no more cricket. These days, Mr Singh spends most of his time in the flat, either on their two-seater sofa before the television set, or in bed, also with a view of the TV set.

Each visit ended with a promise to visit them again. And each visit was followed by several hours of sharing.

Her husband's pension of $600 is hardly enough and she didn't want to depend on their children.

Having relied for decades on her husband and his income and job, she wants to get a job now.

On our fifth and last visit on Sept 29, Mr Singh and their son Simbad were sleeping on their single beds.

The rain had subsided and there was a cool breeze blowing through. A sense of calm settled briefly through the flat.

When Mr Singh was up, he suggested taking a walk - a rare occasion, she said. He walked past the lifts and corridors reeking of urine, and with cigarette butts strewn around. He didn't notice them.

Out in the open, Mr Singh pointed out some red kites floating in the distance. "Look at my red birds", he said.

"The birds are clever. They're free."

Why walk when you can sit, he protested after a few minutes.

"Anyway I've done enough walking in all my time when I was young. Walk up and down the prison, walk up and down the cricket pitch. I walk everywhere."

His wife looked at him indulgently, holding his hand.

He's away from prison now. Away from that home where loud "clangs" can be heard.

And tired of taking the final walks with prisoners. He's a hangman no more, she said.

"When I look at him now, I see my husband, the man I fell in love with. All that is just his work," she said, as they continued on their stroll, hand in hand.

He has always been charming, Madam Jeleha said. It was how she fell in love with him in the first place.


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