As told to Conrad
Growing up, I always felt a deep sense of responsibility for my family. For as long as I can remember, my extended family never stopped reminding me that my birth wasn’t easy on my mother. Despite being the second of four children, my birth had become a cautionary tale in my family, detailing how I almost killed my mother, made my father a widower and left my older sister motherless. When that’s all you hear as a child, it’s hard not to feel indebted to your parents. After all, you owe them your life.
The first time I realised I was sacrificing my happiness to please my family was when I had to choose between science and arts in SS1. I wanted to study Law, but my family insisted I pick a science course instead. That’s how I started my journey towards becoming a pharmacist. I’m smart, so no matter what I chose, I knew I wouldn’t struggle, but this didn’t stop me from being really disappointed with the choice. I tried to voice my concern to my mum, but she reminded me that I was the smartest of my siblings, and the one who’d take care of her when she grew old. How do you argue with a statement like that? I played my part as the good kid, selected science classes and did what I believed was the best thing for my family.
After all, I owed my parents my life.
My mum turned out to be right though. Now at 36, I’m the most successful of all my siblings. But it came at great personal costs. While my mates and siblings were enjoying their youth, I was drowning myself in my books and taking internship opportunities every time I had a school break.
Every time I tried to come up for air, I’d remember I was my parents’ retirement plan and dived back into studying. I never dated in university, never went to the club or skipped classes.
You’d think that after all of this, I’d have my life back post-university, but it only got worse. I earned more money than every other one of my siblings so the responsibility of everything that had to do with my parents fell on my shoulders. From big things like my dad’s battle with glaucoma and all the surgeries, to the little things like paying the cleaning lady, my siblings just left everything to me. Whenever I tried to bring it up or at least delegate a small portion of the bills, they all ignored me. So I kept coughing out money without any sort of assistance
When my mum got diagnosed with cancer, she needed all the help she could get. I pleaded with my younger brother who lived in the same city with her to at least move in with her so he could monitor the caregivers I had hired. Big mistake on my part. This guy, a full-grown adult at 28, decided to “take care” of our mum by spending all the money I sent to her through him.
I had to leave a work conference and fly back to the East after my mum collapsed because she hadn’t been taking her medication — something I’d paid for. I was livid. The worst part was, my mum kept defending him, and somehow I became the villain.
I paid for my parents’ medical bills, I covered tuition for some of my nieces and nephews. And let’s not get started on the uncles and aunties I had to “settle” once in a while. I was a walking NGO with my family as the ungrateful beneficiaries. The most annoying thing is that with all I spent on them, I barely spent on myself. I still use the same car I was using four years ago, while my siblings change cars all the time — and yet, they somehow always manage to be broke. I can’t remember the last time I travelled abroad for something other than work or my parents’ medical trips.
In my romantic relationships, I found it difficult to go all out and spend money on my partners or fun experiences with them. In the back of my head, there was always this nagging voice that I needed to save all my money in case my family came to me with one emergency or the other. I became a slave to their expenses. It had to stop.
I cut my family off last year. My mum passed away — I paid for the funeral — and since my dad was already deceased, it just felt like the right time to finally step back. The people that brought me to this world are gone and now, I can show everyone my true colour.
I gave my siblings one month more of enjoyment and then I started airing them. The school fees for my nieces and nephews? Aired — don’t take your kids to schools you can’t afford. Random calls asking for this or that? Aired. I told them to fuck off and support themselves.
My extended family has been calling to tell me that I’m wicked for abandoning my siblings, and it’s wild to me because they aren’t children. I finally have peace, but I regret not telling my parents how frustrating it felt having the entire family’s weight on my back, while they were still alive. They died thinking I enjoyed it, and I blame them for it, as my suffering was all their fault.
Anyway, it’s time for me to finally live my life and enjoy my money. Where’s everyone going this summer? I have money to blow.