Abortions were and remain illegal in the country: abortions were and remain commonplace in the country particularly among the poor. It isn’t that the rich don’t get unwanted pregnancies too but that they go to legal clinics in Singapore which by the nature of being legal means they are better equipped and have safer practices. Attending a clinic incountry can result from anything such as complications with consequences to a short time in jail after a raid.

Pen found herself pregnant by what she though was a month at the time. She quickly resorted to the “medicine for if your period don’t come” which proved to be utterly ineffective thus leaving Pen in a quandary. Pen you see already had a son. A son who was now in school. His father also happened to be Pen’s sisters husband although that remained a secret within the family and one for many years that kept Pen away from visiting the family in the south not because of the stricter morals generally held in the south, after all morals were not for the poor and Pen was nothing if not poor, but because she worried her son may look like her sisters husband and people would guess and blame her for seducing her sisters husband. Although the actual way it happened was the other way round Pen knew full well it would be her who was blamed by everyone from sister to her own mother and father because that was the way things were.

Pen knew full well she couldn’t afford another baby and knew it was hard enough to raise and take care of her one son and dint even know what he would think now he was older. So there was only one answer and that was abortion, but they cost money and money was something Pen didn’t have. Of course there was her “husband” or one of the two of them, but they were both already married to other women and Pen was a minor wife. Of course as she was only a month pregnant she knew which husband must be the father and surely he could help. However, Sith was also a poor man and one who now had two wives to keep and a twenty-five year old pick up truck to keep on the road, so Sith voted for keeping the baby. After all it was cheaper to leave a minor wife than fund an abortion and after all she would raise his child and not him, and of course Sith was a good Buddhist so he couldn’t countenance killing anything and leaving a minor wife with a child to raise was of course no sin anywhere like abortion.

So for Pen it was down to the noodle shop to where she had borrowed money before and repaid it or at least mostly repaid it most of the time. But times were hard and this time a small loan could be made, probably enough to cover what was needed but in these hard times interest was up. Up in fact to a grand 20% per month. Still there was little choice.

Now the next matter was finding a place as they were not exactly advertised in newspapers or on those garish bits of paper stuffed into letter boxes and under doors that advertised everything else from pizzas to loans. So it was off to the bigger town to the women’s clinic to talk about periods as directness was not the way in such matters, and a few hours later equipped with a card with some details on the back it was home to prepare for a short trip the other way to resolve issues the next day.

Early the next morning for some reason Sith appeared again proffering a small amount of money. Not for “that thing” he made clear but to help with her son’s school fees. Of course Sith realising the good thing he was onto was somewhat jeopardized by his not so well received remonstrations a few days ago but of course making clear that he was a man and not going back on his word but still caring in other ways. And of course replacing a minor wife was not the easiest thing to do or certainly not the easiest for a poor man like Sith and he remembered he couldn’t afford the trips to the massage parlours these days so it was better everything remained as it was.

The place was fronted by a high, high wall and an iron plated security door that you had to talk into a little microphone thing to get through to enter the waiting room and gamut of rooms where the procedures took place. And once entering the waiting room all mobile phones and bags had to be surrendered for safe keeping. Outside the waiting room though was incongruously a large green garden of ornate beauty and which you could quietly sit in taking in the vast arrays of coloured plants scattered among the foliage while birds of all colours and types fly swiftly around before descending into a tree or pecking at a berry. It was a place of peace and harmony and not at all as imagined in some back street dirty building.

Back home in time to pick her son up from the people who sold southern curries round the corner from her small two room shophouse where Pen had her not very succesful at all seamstress business and with half of the borrowed money now gone Pen realised it was over. However having the doctor tell her that she was two months pregnant and not one was somewhat disturbing as that meant not Sith but her other “husband” Tor must be the father. Oh well best not to complicate things now as they had been complicated enough and already and this was a part of life best moved rapidly on from.


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