Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Taxi Driver's Secret

It was supposed to be just an ordinary taxi ride that I took a few days ago, but I ended up hearing about someone's life story and a secret. I was running some errands for the company and needed to go to a couple of places. The taxi driver was a jovial uncle, probably in his sixties and was really chatty. I was holding my iPhone and playing my games just to pass time as usual, while he tried to strike up a conversation with me, perhaps out of boredom. Out of courtesy, I would give him the short "oh I see" type of response, while still concentrating on my game.

The topic ranged from the weather, the politics and then veered to his family life. I listened as he talked about how proud he was of his 29 year old son, who always failed his maths and used up a lot of his money on tuition until he finally had a breakthrough in secondary 2 and was able to grasp the Maths concepts from then on, never needing tuition again.  It didn't stop there, for he went on to be the top Math student and also helped many other kids with his own maths concepts. Got so good boh? I was already thinking of engaging his help for my kiddos.

Then I vaguely remembered hearing him say that he has two kids and so I asked about his other kid. He began by saying that his eldest daughter had physical disability and that he had employed a maid to take full care of her. If I could remember correctly now, she is already 32 years old but she had lose her mobility. Her mental development was normal, just that she is immobile. That was when I stopped my game and listened. 

He went on saying that his eldest daughter was a very pretty Chinese doll-lookalike when she was a baby, and everyone who met her would compliment her on her looks and would want to carry her too. As both he and his wife needed to work, his daughter and his boy were being cared for by his mother-in-law then. He felt that there was something wrong with his daughter after coming home from work one fine day and asked his mother-in-law. But she claimed that everything was fine and so he didn't pursue further. However his daughter didn't get back to her old self from that day onwards and had what seemed like some neurological problems. She wasn't able to control her limbs properly and trips to doctors and specialists much later were to no avail. The family came to terms and accepted her fate.

Probably driven by guilt, his mother-in-law finally confessed to him many years later, that his daughter had fell down and knocked her head while under her care then and had even vomited after that. It was because his then infant son was naughty and was about to get into some trouble that she rushed to his aid and knocked into his daughter instead. She had kept this secret from the family out of fear and also because the girl still looked okay outwardly. His mother-in-law passed on shortly after revealing her dark secret, and was probably much relieved too.

I asked him how he felt then and he said he felt really angry which was pretty understandable. He thought that the situation might be better if he was able to seek proper help earlier then and his daughter might not require the type care she needed now. All these years he had thought that it was some inborn problem and at times, blamed himself too. But when I asked how his family reacted after knowing the truth, he said that only his mother-in-law and himself knows. When I asked him why is that so, he replied, "what good would it do for anyone if the truth is told now?" It will only vilify his mother-in-law in the eyes of the family, his wife and her own daughter. 

He had bequeathed his HDB flat to his daughter and instructed his son take care of her when both he and his wife are both gone. He also told him to rent the rooms out and to use the rental to cover his sister's daily needs. The son never questioned his decision. I had mixed emotions after hearing his story. I thought that the first thing he would do was to tell his wife or his family but he chose to keep everything to himself. 

In life, everything happens for a reason and there is a cause for every thing that happened. But is there really a need to know the truth to everything? Or is there a need to tell the truth of every thing to every one? I really have no answers and I cannot judge, for who am I to judge? But I would hazard a guess that the mother-in-law probably felt so much better after telling the truth as her conscience must be pricking her daily. In my mind, she was probably selfish when she kept the truth back then, but towards her end, she probably was still selfish because she told the truth to clear her conscience.

On the other hand, it takes courage for the dad to keep the truth from his wife, and his family. It must be painful to know the truth and to keep it to oneself. But was he selfish also? Does his family members need to know the truth too? The taxi uncle was probably searching for an outlet, for someone to tell his story to and I just happened to be there. I wish the family well.


  1. well written, Steven. I wish the family well too. We often learn many life's lessons at the most unexpected moments. it reminds me to be contented with what I have and be mindful of each moment. Thanks for sharing this experience!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! We all learn from our daily experiences. Glad to share mine.