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Single mum with disabled children worries about keeping a roof overhead

K Goomathi lives in constant fear that one day, her ex-husband will ask for the house back.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
K Goomathi gives her son, K Thiviyan, a kiss on his forehead as her daughter K Daarshini smiles beside her at their house in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
K Goomathi gives her son, K Thiviyan, a kiss on his forehead as her daughter K Daarshini smiles beside her at their house in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Ten years ago, K Goomathi went through a painful divorce from her husband, a separation that left her family in shambles.

But while the dust has long settled on the court proceedings, her problems are as alive today as they were at the start.

She lives in a small house in Sungai Petani, Kedah, with her three children, two of whom have special needs.

Her 13-year-old son, K Thiviyan, has cerebral palsy, while her 18-year-old daughter, K Daarshini, is developmentally delayed.

At 20, her eldest daughter, K Kirrosni, is pursuing her studies at a local community college in Lenggong, Perak. This leaves Goomathi alone in taking care of her other two children.

With her hands full at home, Goomathi has no time to hold down an outside job. She depends largely on the RM500 assistance that she receives from the welfare department each month.

Sometimes, her neighbours also drop by with food and basic necessities.

Goomathi tends to Thiviyan herself as she cannot afford treatment for him at the clinic.

His hands and legs are permanently curled up, his movements are stiff and jerky, and he cannot hold his head up on his own.

“He cannot eat, sleep or bathe on his own. I have to help him with everything,” Goomathi said in an interview with MalaysiaNow.

Daarshini, meanwhile, is still learning her ABCs. In other matters such as gardening, though, she is more knowledgeable.

“Daarshini is a good sister,” Goomathi said. “She helps take care of Thiviyan. If I have to go out to run some errands, she keeps an eye on him, tidies up the house and does whatever needs to be done.”

K Goomathi smiles through her tears as she speaks of her children and her fear that one day, their home will be taken away from them.

Even so, each day is a struggle for Goomathi – a struggle that she nonetheless embraces due to her love for her children.

The family has very little to spare, but Goomathi says they are not in want.

“All the children ask for is the love and attention of their mother,” she said.

Nevertheless, at the back of her mind lurks the fear that one day, they will be turned out of their home which belongs to her ex-husband.

During the divorce proceedings, the court ruled that Goomathi and the children could continue living there although her former husband would retain the right to reclaim it if he desired.

“I am just waiting for the day,” Goomathi said. “If he wants the house back, we will have to give it up.”

If they lose the house, they have nowhere else to go. They will have to find somewhere else to rent, but this will put a huge strain on the family’s finances.

“It’s not just the two of them. The money I get from the welfare department has to stretch to cover their sister’s education fees as well,” Goomathi said.

Still, Goomathi counts the small family fortunate despite their challenges in life.

“I thank God because we have enough to eat. Our health, whether good or bad, I accept.”

As a mother, her hopes are few and simple.

“I just want to see my children healthy and safe,” she said. “As long as they have enough to eat and clothes to wear, and are not burdened with too many troubles.”