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'My mum, she's the light in my darkness'

His mum is his hero.

"She's amazing. She's the light in my darkness and guides me through growing up. She's a superwoman!" said Malcolm Teo, 15.

On Mother's Day, he bought his mother a plastic rose and attached a handwritten note that said: "I'm grateful for everything you've done for me. Remember if anything happens, I'll walk along life with you."

Ever the pragmatist, Malcolm said of the plastic rose: "It's more practical, it'll never die! Plus...it's like my love for my mum!"

Malcolm, a Secondary 3 student from Naval Base Secondary, did not do too well for his PSLE and ended up in the Normal (Academic) Stream. And it was partly because he struggled emotionally as his parents were locked in an acrimonious divorce.

But an incident three years ago during the school holidays changed everything.

In the dead of the night, he woke up and was surprised to see his mother leaving home when she had told him that she was going to sleep.

"It then hit me - she had been pretending all the while. She was out to finish her first job. I suppose she didn't want me to be worried.

"That moment was painful, it changed me and urged me to repay my family."

Three days later, Malcolm followed his mother for her 3am shift.

Malcolm now studies an average of 10 hours a day, with his textbooks and notes spread out over the coffee table in the living room.

He does not own a computer and said it is quite a challenge to concentrate.

NOISY HOME

Without resources online and because he lives in a noisy home with his mother, grandparents, uncle, aunt and their son, Malcolm asked his teachers for help.

He cannot afford tuition classes and sometimes stays in school until about 8pm, leaving when the security guards ask him to.

But his hard work has paid off and he was promoted from the Normal (Academic) Stream to the Express Stream last year.

He said: "I felt so happy, but I was also scared. It's now five years of content squeezed into four."

Malcolm, who hopes to be a doctor, has a love for biology.

Then, like a typical teen, he quipped: "Perhaps I could try Manhunt too!"

His mother afforded herself a rare smile in our presence and gave him a big hug.

Malcolm proudly said: "She's taught me to treasure life.

She's an amazing motherly and fatherly figure. She's the best mum anyone could ask for."