Saturday, September 18, 2021

The struggles that continue after war

Retired soldier A Arullapan left war and conflict behind him years ago but today, he faces a struggle of another kind. Money is short and it is up to him to take care of his wife and son who are both debilitated.

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Long ago, Arullapan was part of the country’s armed forces. His last post was a warrant officer at the Sungai Besi camp in Kuala Lumpur.

A collection of old photos showing Arullapan with his family and his friends in the army.

Arullapan shows off the medals he received for his years of service in the army.

These include the Malaysian Service Medal which he received on Feb 16, 2019 at the defence ministry. The medal recognises service by members of the armed forces during the Malayan Emergency, Second Malayan Emergency, and the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation.

Arullapan was also active in sports and had played hockey and football during his time with the armed forces, including with Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh and Soh Chin Aun.

But he now spends his days taking care of his son, who is mentally disabled and can only sit on the bed set up for him in the small living room.

His wife also suffered a stroke about six years ago which left her wheelchair-bound and in need of constant care. Most of his pension from the army is used to pay for her physiotherapy.

Arullapan now takes care of the household tasks that his wife used to do, cooking his family’s meals each day.

Their meals are simple: rice, which Arullapan cooks in their old rice pot, and some gravy which he buys from a nearby shop.

Because of her stroke, Arullapan’s wife, Annamary Sokkan, can no longer move on her own. She can only watch as her husband does the chores around the house.

Arullapan does his best to keep her spirits up, and counts out her pills for her every day.

He had hoped to be living in happy retirement by now, but is determined to carry his burden for as long as it takes.

From time to time, he receives assistance from others who know of his plight. He gladly accepts any help that is given as he knows he cannot keep going on his own.

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