Dire Consequences Of Granny’s Addiction.
Sung had been a free-lance deep-sea diver for the petroleum industry since his discharge from the army as a regular, some years ago. His life was carefree and he loved the ocean, being away on oil rigs from week-to-week. Late one evening, while he was relaxing at home with the family, vociferous shouting outside their apartment interrupted them. When they opened their front door, red paint was immediately splashed at them, and a note wrapped around a stone was thrown into their hall. It was a demand note for a very large loan to be repaid the following day, to an illegal loan shark. Grandmother had been gambling again! Nobody in the family had been keeping an eye on granny for the last 9 months, since she had promised not to frequent betting and gambling joints again. In order to settle her huge debt, it would mean running down Sung’s own substantial savings and selling their family home.
By the time Sung began therapy, the family had sold off their home and had settled 80% of his granny’s debt. The family was under constant surveillance by the loan shark’s henchmen, and once in a while graffiti was painted close to their apartment, announcing their indebtedness to all their neighbours. The family had moved over 6 times, always in the middle of the night or during the early hours of the morning, from one apartment to another, to escape the intimidations. Venturing out of doors was minimal. Public transport was avoided. Their meals were catered. Sung had depleted his savings, and the constant uprooting had exhausted them. Whenever he was out-of-town on an assignment, he worried himself sick, and soon became an insomniac, experiencing regular anxiety attacks, and was in depression.
Sung’s grandmother was referred to another counsellor for her gambling addiction, as we handled his panic attacks and depression. Watching this well-built ex-naval diver crumbled into tears at the initial sessions was heartbreaking, and indicative of the strain he was under at the time. Due to his overseas work commitment and the family’s transient mode, his counselling appointments remained irregular. Because they were still in hiding, both his granny’s and his appointments were arranged in the early evenings after sunset.
After a couple of months, Sung stabilised and was weaned off his medication. We sought out a third party, who had wide dealings with loan sharks and had been advising victims who were similarly caught-up in indebtedness, to negotiate an amicable solution with his granny’s creditors. The back-and–forth dialogues, with Mr Tan as the intermediary, took another two months; Sung’s family members and the creditors never met face-to-face, and as usual, meetings with Mr Tan were always after sundown in various secretive locations. Once a settlement was reached, the stress level dropped.
A year later, Sung married and the family bought an apartment, and they learnt to keep a watchful eye over their grandma’s weakness, as they pulled together as a closer unit.