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The One that Got Away

The One that Got Away

Growing up is not easy. Test of friendships, family squabbles, various peer pressure… being human the list continues. But what keeps our hope afloat is knowing we are never alone. Diploma grad Reyna Gopal sheds a chapter from her own tapestry of growing pains. Though Reyna has graduated from IACT College, her writing remains close to us and we are proud to announce that she is currently a writer with Time Out Malaysia.

Behind these pair of dark brown eyes, lies the untold story of my broken soul. By Reyna Gopal

Ever since I was a little girl, the world was so vague. Listening to them yell and scream on top of their lungs, throwing pots, car keys, belts – anything they could grab hold of. It was so rare to see a day when they actually made genuine eye contact, holding hands or even smiling at each other, doing what normal married couples would do. Heck, I can’t recall any of that romantic bullshit made up in my head. I was only capable of watching helplessly as shit happened every day.

I had always slept right next to my mum in a separate room since I was born. I thought that it was normal for everyone else to do the same thing. It didn’t occur to me at all. As I grew older, I slowly started to understand all the constant quarrels that happened on a daily basis. When I found out that infidelity started a couple of years after my birth, it immediately felt like as if it was my entire fault. It felt like I was stabbed with a Samurai sword right through my chest. Am I really a curse to this family? Would things be better if I didn’t exist?

Things deteriorated of course. Their relationship was already a dead end as I had to live through all those arguments. And in those hard times, I knew that it was my duty as a daughter to be there for my mum. I was always much attached to her; she was everything and beyond to me. Growing up, she was my knight in shining armour. I knew that no matter what happens, she will always be there, right beside me, to protect me from all evil. She was always that one person I look forward to meet every day, especially reaching home after a long and tiring day of work. Nightmares vanish when I know that my mum is sleeping right next to me. It always gave me a sort of assurance – everything is going to be okay, sweetheart.

Being in an Indian family, the boy gets all the glory. With my brother being the only grandson on my dad’s side, I never had that “golden child” attention and treatment he was showered with by both my grandparents, aunts and uncle from the moment he was brought into the world. Often felt like I was living in his big and dark shadow, and my mum – being the only one who looked out for me – made sure I didn’t feel left out. She always reminded me of how special I am to her. And somehow that made me feel I am worthy of someone’s attention.

Overtime, my parents came to a mutual agreement to live under the same roof with the condition of living as separate people. Their intention was to stay on together until my brother and I were old enough to recognize and accept our family’s state. It was impossible to patch anything between them at all. I understood and respected their decision as I knew that no matter what we are always their biggest priorities above their broken relationship. As long as I know that mum was not going anywhere without me, I will be fine.

It was mum and me against the universe. That is until I turned 11…

She found someone new. It’s not that it was any surprise to me because it had been happening – both my parents – since way back when. But this time, it was different. She met him while she was out partying with her group of girlfriends. They spoke everyday on the phone, whenever she came home from work at night. Even during the weekends, she paid full attention to her little Nokia phone. I hear it buzz almost every minute of the day. At first I didn’t mind it but after a while, it became irritating. Every time I tried to share something or tried making any sort of conversations, her pair of hazel eyes would be glued to her phone while she giggles to the text messages from that lad, almost not bothered with my existence. It didn’t just end there; the house became more silent; the food she cooked was as good as half-cooked pasta; she was barely home.

Ultimately, I was pushed aside. Suddenly I wasn’t her main priority anymore.

I used to sit and cry every single day knowing that she had found her happiness with someone else. I felt alone and neglected. I had to endure sleeping through so many scary and desolated nights all by myself. And on certain nights when the nightmares were at their worst, I used to arrange her pillows in such a way that I could almost feel her presence next to me until I got used to the solitude. It was one of the hardest things I had to go through as a child. My parents’ separation wasn’t even as bad as her leaving me on my own. Yes, I was somewhat old enough to understand what was going on but it didn’t mean that she could just take off without me. What do you have against me, oh Lord? Why bring such agony over this broken soul?

After almost a year dating him, she decided to move to Johor with him so that she could find a job in Singapore. That shattered me completely into a billion pieces, leaving an unfathomable wound in me. I didn’t know how else to react. When she hugged me goodbye that day, I couldn’t even shed a tear nor could I hug her back genuinely. My eyes and soul were filled with so much hatred for him till I just stood there emotionless as I watched that Proton Waja drive off with my mum in it. Our relationship crumbled from that moment onwards.

Eventually she came back as things didn’t work out between them. I found myself constantly arguing with mum over every little thing. We didn’t get along as how we used to. It was too obvious that there was this emptiness that I found tough to mend, which made me avoid the one person I love the most. In 2010, my parents made it official; they finally got a divorce after 23 years of what I would call a cold war. I was there at the court when it was done in the span of 5 short minutes. Surprisingly, I was all right. I got so used to the pain that it made me immune to all the grief. At the end of the day, she knew that it was time for her to finally move out and move on.

We still do meet each other on and off, depending on my hefty schedule. But honestly, sometimes I do wish that things can go back to the way it used to be. Despite all of those sorrows, miseries and egoism I have in me, she will always be the queen of my heart and I will always love her to the moon and back. And the one important lesson I learned growing up; I would never allow my future children to experience what I did.

Editor’s note: Would you like to share us your story to give hope to others? Email to

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