My life is destroyed after affair with study mama
It was a mistake right from the start, says the cabby who wants to be known only as Mr Wong.
He had agreed to this interview on condition that we do not identify him, as he is worried that this interview may set loan sharks on his trail.
A relative had written in to alert this correspondent of Mr Wong's story.
His life had started to unravel after he agreed to a friend's request to be the local sponsor for a study mama and her 10-year-old son.
Mr Wong, 48, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "My life is in ruins, my wife attempted suicide twice and my daughters no longer talk to me."
He looks to the kitchen, where his daughters, 10 and 12, are doing their homework on a foldable table.
During our two-hour interview, both girls ignore their father's presence. Occasionally, one child would approach Mrs Wong, who is seated on a thin mattress with her back against the wall for support, and whisper in her ears, then dart back to the kitchen.
Mr Wong sits on the cold floor in the two-room HDB flat he and his family have taken refuge in since last December.
The family-of-four share two mattresses in the living room. The bedroom is used by the "kind relative" who took pity on them and allowed them to stay with her without asking for any payment.
It is a far cry from their five-room HDB flat in the western part of Singapore, where the girls used to share a bedroom.
Mr Wong says softly: "The loan sharks kept harassing us and I was afraid that something would happen to my daughters."
He estimates that his initial loan of $10,000 has likely grown to about $30,000, since his payments have been irregular.
Part of the loan, he claims, was given to the study mama, Ah Bing, during the time when they were having an affair.
It started after the then 40-year-old divorcee and her son had moved in with the Wong family after they came to Singapore in 2012.
Mr Wong says: "She wasn't particularly attractive or sexy, so I don't know why I was bewitched by her."
As Mrs Wong was then working at a fast-food restaurant, Ah Bing offered to prepare the family's meals.
"She kept saying she didn't want to be a freeloader," says Mr Wong.
"She also took care of the household chores, so we all got along quite well at first."
Mrs Wong offers a weak smile, then says: "But you know, the woman's instinct in me told me that something wasn't quite right.
"By the time I found out, it was too late. My husband was sharing our bed with her and he had already emptied our joint bank account."
The $40,000 was money that the couple had "scrimped and saved" since the birth of their first daughter.
Mr Wong blinks rapidly to stop the tears, then says: "It was money meant for my daughters' education. But their terrible father gave it away like a fool."
He still feels that Ah Bing's move had been a well-calculated one. It didn't help that he had been having frequent arguments with his wife over her shift duty hours.
"Ah Bing started by acting as the peacemaker and would advise me to be more patient," recounts Mr Wong.
Ah Bing was also caring and attentive to Mr Wong's needs, sometimes even volunteering a quick neck massage when he returned home for his lunch breaks.
He cannot remember the exact date but one afternoon, he came home and found Ah Bing "asleep on the sofa", clad only in a towel.
She was "shocked" by his return and apologised profusely before hurrying into her room.
Mr Wong says: "I didn't say anything to my wife partly because I felt guilty that I liked what I saw."
Ah Bing seemed to realise that and the same scene was repeated a week later.
He looks at his wife, then says: "All I want to say is, I reacted like a normal man under that circumstance.
"I don't blame anyone but myself for the lack of self-control."
When she found out that the pair had carried on the affair "right under my nose for nearly a year, I went crazy".
"I wanted to kill my daughters first, then myself."
But she "couldn't bring myself to do it to the girls" and ended up taking a cocktail of "different pills and tablets". She was warded for two weeks and was ordered to go for counselling.
A week after she was back home, she uncovered another secret: That they were penniless and her husband had borrowed money from two loan sharks.
She tried to kill herself a second time and ended up with a warning from the police that she'd be arrested the next time.
"You are a woman. You are a wife. You are a mother. Tell me what would you do," she says, this time with her voice raised a little.
Mr Wong hushes her, and says: "It was my fault. My mistake."
Ah Bing had asked for $50,000, claiming that she wanted to buy a small piece of land in her hometown in Chengdu, in Sichuan province.
Mr Wong says: "I thought, since she had given herself to me, I should be responsible for her."
Ah Bing, who had moved out two days after Mrs Wong's first suicide attempt, has since "disappeared" with her son.
"I was told that she gave an excuse someone died in her home and went back with her son," claims Mr Wong.
He declines to provide more details of the boy or the school.
He says: "Ah Bing's son is innocent. Even if he is still in Singapore, I won't hunt him down.
"I only hope that I can quickly sell the flat and pay off the loan sharks, then start life afresh. I am lucky that my wife has finally decided to forgive me."
Mrs Wong says: "I don't know if things will ever be the same again, but for now, I am willing to try for the sake of our daughters. I am also slowly trying to help my husband mend his relationship with them."
But there is one thing from this "painful lesson" that Mr Wong wants to share: "I hope that all the married men out there will know that in the end, it isn't worth sacrificing your family for that moment of lust."
"I hope that all the married men out there will know that in the end, it isn't worth sacrificing your family for that moment of lust."
- Mr Wong, 48, cabby
She's my 'first' love
Unlike Mr Wong, who is now trying to rebuild his life with his family, this hawker is looking forward to his new life.
One that has given him renewed vigour, he insists. One that is built on love, not lust nor money.
When approached, Mr Liu Zengfai, who sells fishball noodles at a food centre in Jurong, refused to speak to us. He claims that he is a "very private man" and "does not like kaypohs prying into his life".
That is, until the new woman in his life says: "Go ahead, tell her our love story. Otherwise those people who don't know how to mind their own business will say, 'See, they are scared of the scandal,' when there isn't any."
But first, Madam Sun Lili, 38, who is from Shanghai, asks: "How did you get to know about us?"
When told that it was a reader of The New Paper on Sunday who had tipped us off, she says loudly: "It must be one of those 'duo guan xian shi de ren' (busybody in Mandarin) here.
"But never mind, my 'ai ren' (lover) will talk to you."
Mr Liu, 59, has filed for divorce from his wife of 30 years, and hopes to hold a wedding ceremony in Madam Sun's hometown when the proceedings are finalised.
Mr Liu and his wife, also 59, had a son who was killed in a traffic accident several years ago.
He says: "I know my neighbours here (the other stallholders) think that I am a fool or feel that I have wronged my wife.
"But after our son died, we lived together out of routine and not because of love. And our marriage was matchmade."
Which is why, he says, Madam Sun is his first love. They had met soon after she came to Singapore with her son, who is in secondary school. The mother and son were regular customers.
He says: "I was attracted to Lili right from the start. I felt that she was someone I had known maybe from my previous life."
Madam Sun declines to be interviewed.
She says: "I am just an innocent party who was wooed by a man madly in love with me. So, he is the best person to tell you our love story."
She hovered near Mr Liu during the interview, and would often stroke his shoulders lovingly in an open display of affection - which he admittedly appreciates.
He says: "This woman loves me, an old man, and is not afraid to show it even though she knows that the people here condemn her.
"Sometimes, I feel very sorry that my lover has to suffer just because of the prejudice that Singaporeans have against Chinese study mamas."
Mr Liu refuses to share details of how he courted Madam Sun because "I don't think it is anyone's business".
His wife could not be reached for comment.
A sugarcane juice seller at the same food centre says that Mr Liu's wife did not seem too shocked when she learnt of the clandestine relationship from another hawker.
She says: "Many of us here feel sorry for her, especially since we have heard that all she has is an old auntie who lives in a home for the aged. But this is their 'jia shi' (family affair) and no one can intervene."
Mr Liu confirms that his wife's parents have died and she has no siblings.
He insists that his wife will be well provided for after the divorce.
"I know her pride will prevent her from asking me for any help, but I have told her that Lili and I will always be around for her if she should need us," he says.
"But I cannot stay married to her just because I feel sorry for her. Lili has taught me to view life in a different light, to enjoy it while we are still able.
"After we marry, her son will take my surname. She has also promised me that she'll try to bear another child of our own.
"She has not asked me for anything and she has not stopped me from wanting to provide for my wife.
"She is different from other study mamas."
"This woman loves me, an old man, and is not afraid to show it..."
- Mr Liu Zengfai, 59, fishball noodle seller