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Mum's illnesses cure troubled youth

A CHANGED MAN: Mr Narayanan cleaned up his act after his mother was struck by cancer and stroke in 2013.


    May 29, 2015

    Mum's illnesses cure troubled youth

    GETTING expelled from school twice did not change his rebellious streak.

    Two stints at juvenile homes also failed to set him straight.

    And he was so far gone that his mother took out a Beyond Parental Control (BPC) order against him.

    But two years ago, when two life-threatening illnesses - breast cancer and stroke - struck Narayanan Rankasamy's mother in the span of a week, he came to his senses.

    The 23-year-old told The New Paper: "I didn't want her last memory of me to be disappointing. I wanted her to be proud of me."

    Mr Narayanan is now pursuing an accounting diploma at Kaplan Singapore and is set to graduate in August with flying colours.

    But his road to success was far from smooth sailing.

    At 15, he was led astray by bad company. He said: "I felt my friends were more important than my mum because I wasn't getting the attention I needed at home."

    His mother, Sanda Govindaraju, 52, left her husband when she was five months pregnant with her son. Working as a security guard meant long hours, and she often left her only child to his own devices.

    She said: "I was working from 8am to 8pm. There was nobody to take care of him but what to do? I had to pay the bills."

    Mr Narayanan started smoking, stealing and fighting, and would return home in the wee hours.

    When Mrs Sanda realised things had spiralled out of control, she applied for a BPC order against her son in 2007.

    Parents can file a BPC order at the Juvenile Court for children below the age of 16 who display behavioural problems at home or school. The court can then place the child in custody in a juvenile home.

    Mrs Sanda said: "It was a painful decision that I struggled with for months. But with BPC, at least I knew he was in safe hands."

    The BPC order did not sit well with Mr Narayanan, who felt betrayed after he was sent to the Singapore Boys' Home for two months.

    Shortly after he was released on probation, Mr Narayanan resumed his bad habit - playing truant and breaking his mandatory 8pm curfew.

    He was subsequently expelled from East View Secondary School in 2008. Less than a year after leaving a juvenile home, he was thrown into another, this time for two years.

    But in 2010, the home kicked him out for bad behaviour and he was expelled from school a second time.

    Before he enlisted for national service (NS), Mr Narayanan felt he had no direction in life and spent his time hopping between odd jobs.

    But in 2013, he found direction in the unlikeliest of places - a hospital.

    In October that year, he received news that his mother was diagnosed with third-stage breast cancer and had suffered a stroke in the same week.

    Mr Narayanan, who was in the middle of his Basic Military Training, rushed to the hospital.

    "To me, my mum was like Superwoman. So it was eating away at me to see her in such a weak state. I couldn't handle it."

    He broke down by her hospital bed in a rare display of vulnerability.

    Mrs Sanda said: "He told me, 'When you were bringing me up, I never felt the pain you went through. But to see you sick, I feel the pain now.' "

    Mr Narayanan frequently took leave during NS to accompany his mother on her chemotherapy and physiotherapy sessions, and their relationship gradually improved.

    Last year, after undergoing a mastectomy to remove her left breast and removing 20 lymph nodes, Mrs Sanda was given a clean bill of health and her illnesses are now in remission.

    This gave Mr Narayanan the peace of mind to enrol in an accounting course at Kaplan Singapore, where he has been scoring distinctions and credits for all his modules.

    Mr Narayanan intends to pursue a part-time degree in accounting after he graduates from his course.

    He said: "I'll fund my own education by working and studying at the same time.

    "My mum has been taking care of me all these years.

    "Now it's my turn."