A group of leprosy children on the seesaw. This photo was taken in the 1930s.

A group of leprosy children on the seesaw. This photo was taken in the 1930s.


A long-awaited hug

A Gathering Of Three Generations

Some kinds of love are inadvertently particularly deep-seated. Some kinds of fate are inadvertently particularly appropriate. Some kinds of pain inadvertently heal itself.

On this quiet night, I keep smiling like a fool as I think back on those beautiful, exciting moments that cannot be taken away or forgotten.

Appreciation comes only after experiencing a loss; gratitude, after learning to love. After being brave, the beautiful encounter begins......

This step was taken at just the right time: not too late and not too early.

It is the most successful reunion so far with the descendant's entire family accepting the biological parent, and it had become the headline of Sungai Buloh kopitiam!

The reunion was held in the resident's chalet on 27 October 2013. Lim Booi Nya (67 years old) had waited for 50 years to find her daughter who had been separated from her since birth. Little did Booi Nya know that the Malay woman who we brought to her chalet (supposedly to buy flowers from her) was actually her eldest daughter, Ong Bee Leng, who was now a Muslim by the name of Mazita Mohd Rosli.

This surprise meeting was planned 2 weeks ago when we traced Mazita through her identity card details at the Penang Registration Office. From the information we found, Mazita was said to be residing in Gombak, KL. But when we went to that address, we were told by her adopted daughter that she had moved to another place. With her adopted daughter's help, we managed to talk to Mazita over the phone. I told Mazita our purpose for calling and told her that her mother was searching for her. Mazita was very excited and quickly made an appointment to meet us at the Gombak house.

During our second visit, Mazita told us that she had also been looking for her mother but had not been successful at all. She had gone to the Kuantan Welfare Home to search for details about her birth parents because as far as she knew, her adoptive parents had taken her from the Kuantan Welfare Home. However, all she managed to discover was her real name "Ong Bee Leng" and that she was from Pulau Jerejak.

Mazita had also intended to go to Pulau Jerejak to trace her parents but was told that that place was ONLY used to confine hardcore criminals and it was already shut down. She was very frightened and wondered what her mother had done to cause herself to be imprisoned in Pulau Jerejak. However, even though she thought that her mother was a criminal, she still wanted to know where her mother had gone to after the prison had closed down. Then a friend told her that if she wanted to know the whereabouts of the inmates, she had to go to the police station to get the details. This piece of misleading information caused Mazita much unrest for many, many years. When I told her that Pulau Jerejak was originally a leprosy settlement, she heaved a sigh of relief. She was very anxious to know exactly where her mother was now.

I showed her my book about her mother's story and also a photo album filled with pictures from a press conference on 11 April 2013 which her mother had held in search of her missing children. She was deeply touched and wanted to know more about her mother. I told her that her mother is a Buddhist and a good cook. During Wesak, she cooks for all the devotees of the temple. She also likes to sing karaoke. Upon hearing this, Mazita burst into tears and said, "I am also a good cook and I like to sing too!"

At that moment, I knew that Mazita would definitely reunite with her mother. Mazita was very excited and made plans to cook nasi lemak (coconut milk rice), fried bee hoon, caramel pudding and cream puffs for this special reunion. She even bought a cake.

Our efforts finally paid off when Mazita arrived at the Sungai Buloh Settlement with her husband, two sons, friends and relatives. I introduced Mazita and her family to Booi Nya and took them to have a look at her nursery. When it started to rain, we went into the house to chat. That was the opportunity for them to get acquainted with one another.

I lured Booi Nya into telling the story of the time she was in Pulau Jerejak and her past efforts in finding her missing children. Mazita was very touched about her mother's fate. I then asked Booi Nya to look at Mazita and say who she looks like. After a long look, Booi Nya said Mazita looks like her mother (Mazita's grandmother). Mazita started to cry. When I told Booi Nya that her daughter had returned, she also started to cry and went to hug her daughter...... I cannot find words to describe this touching moment!

Mazita then introduced her husband and sons to Booi Nya. Booi Nya was very happy and said her grandsons look like their uncle. Then they took out all the food and laid it on the floor and we had a very warm and happy "picnic". Mazita family members are all very open-minded, cheerful and friendly. Mazita's two sons immediately called Booi Nya "popo" (grandmother in Chinese) and her husband called her "mak" (mother). Even though Mazita did not call Booi Nya "mother" openly, we knew that she had already acknowledged Booi Nya as her mother from the time we passed her her original birth certificate and other supporting documents.

Booi Nya was so happy that she took out all her patchwork blankets to present to everyone. She even called her best friend Yoke Suan over to have a look at her daughter and grandchildren. Such a successful reunion makes our work worthwhile!

top | Go Back