Gamblers's Family members Go Back

My name is Ka Ka. I am 9 years old this year. I study in a primary school in the estate. My class is P.4 (Elite). We have a 3-member family living in a public estate. We are having a simple and happy family life. My father is a machine operator and earns about ten thousand dollars a month. My mother is a cashier and earns about 6 thousand dollars a month. My parent aims at steadiness rather than aggressiveness regarding working attitude. We go out to work in the morning and come back to rest at night on weekdays. We go hiking or having tea on holidays. Sometimes we buy food together and prepare lunch or dinner happily in the kitchen at home. At times, we go out dining as celebration of birthday or marriage anniversary. Superficially, the life is too simple and tasteless. However, this is the exact happy life we long for. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. A rising-before-my-eyes and terrible experience which happened two years ago made my family unite together more intimate and harmonious (especially the relationship between mother and I). 
I remembered when I was being promoted to P.2, my mother lost the job. Though she tried her best to find job, she was in vain because of economic recession and monetary upheaval. After consultation with father, mother remained as housewife at home. Father became the sole bread winner of the family. Mother knew his burden and confined father and I to take lunch box. The number of my extra-curricular activities was reduced to one only. 'Horse-betting' which is father's only hobby was also lessened the stake. Father also complained at times. This hobby was not interfered when my parent had jobs together. Father knew the situation and faced the reality. Mother was not at ease and had to compare the prices of the commodities in the nearby stores. Then, she bought the commodities at the lowest price in order to save a little money. She also helped the neigbhours so and thus be called the 'specialist in price comparing'. She was not happy at all but did not know how to reject. Father had suggested her not to be so busy and she could show the bills and claimed that she was worth doing so. In fact, she was not good at communication and expression. She was rather impatient. Be that as it may, she was a very practical person. I understood she loved me very much. She liked to express her love to me in terms of some practical actions such as preparing my favourite dishes, buying some dolls, clothes and stationeries to me even at those very difficult days.
As to my father, he was a typical indoorsman. He was responsible to the family. He never said 'no' to mother. He always said 'yes' to me. However, he was rather indeterminate, obstinate and slow responding. To the worse, he had little self-awareness. Anyway, he matched with mother in all ways. Mother managed all the affairs indoors while father managed all the things outside such as taking care of my extra-curricular activities and playing everywhere. Frankly speaking, we have better relationship between father and I. I liked to approach father more than mother. When we three went outside, I liked to hold father's hand. This made mother complained at times but in vain. I did so because my father understood my situation better.
Father wanted to make us live happier and thus he asked, in many ways, his friend to find a part time job for him. The job was a warehouse helper and earned $2000 more. He had to be in a hurry back home after regular job, just rushed eating some things and hurried to the night shift until mid-night. When he came home, it was 1 a.m.. Mother began weeping when she found the weary appearance on the father's faces. She asked father to stop doing the part time job. Mother told father that the wages earned at day time was also enough. If father insisted doing the part time job by only getting $2000 more, he would be sick easily one day and the situation would be worse than before. But father refused and showed the so-called "save money" receipts which were unpractical and did not want mother to be so tired. Furthermore, father said he should earn much money when he was still young. Otherwise it was impossible earning more when he was older. Then he began complaining the Jockey Club which did not let him win even once. The Jockey Club looked him down because his stake was small and he lost most in Double T and Three-T. He was not greedy and just wanted to win around two million dollars. He comforted mother that he would win one day and be patient for the time being. At that time, I had no idea about money but I understood that money was a key factor to influence my family. I did not worry about the money but the health of father. He decreased the time to keep me company. When I saw him each time, he seemed to be thinner and weaker. I was very afraid of the situation that father would be skinny day by day or even died because of money unconsciously.
As time flew, father took up the part time job for half a year. He only paid extra money $2000 two times to mother and he did not pay money to mother anymore. I knew it more than one time. Then, I also found that father changed his attitude towards horse-racing. Before, he was indifferent to horse-racing hobby but now he was very excited when he watched the TV about horse-racing on Wednesdays, Saturdays or Sundays. He shouted out, "Hurry, Hurry, my lunch and dinner depend on you!" He even spoke vulgar language to ventilate when he lost. Father had become another stranger at home. I could not tolerate and mother blamed him loudly many times. Then, father disappeared on horse-racing days. He came back at mid-night with a very wan and sallow appearance. Then, I could see my father 5 days a week. Sometimes, I wanted to wait for him to come back and just wanted to see him once but failed because I slept already when he reached home. One night, mother could not bear him anymore and she had almost no money because father did not pay money to mother. Mother waited for father to come back by watching the TV sadly at the sitting room until 2 a.m.. When father came back and not yet took off his shoes, mother went to him and burst out crying and shouting the grief and anger which stored in her mind for months loudly.
Mother asked father why he changed into such an evil gambler and whether he had thought about her and the daughter. She cried and shouted repeatedly. At that time, father cried too. He said he had thought about us and he did not want us to be so poor and difficult. He did not have capability to earn much money so he relied on winning more money to modify the family. By doing so, he might have a hope. Once  he won, we might have a happier living and mother did not compare the prices anymore. But he lost more when he focused on betting with higher stakes. Mother was eager to question father whether he had borrow money from loan shark. Father answered that he did not borrow money from loan shark. He just borrowed money from friends, colleagues and financial companies. He did not tell mother and wanted to return money to the lenders when he won. He might give all the money back to mother. Now he had lost all the money he borrowed from the friends and colleagues. He was very unlucky. He reiterated that he lost everything and he had nothing at all. Mother asked him whether he still loved the family. Father said that it was no use saying he loved the family or not. He had no qualification to say so and advised mother to go back to grandma's home with me. Mother burst out crying again and said that she was a common housewife and just to live with the one she loved and be loved. She would be happy with such simple and common life. She also reminded father that the daughter wanted father's love. He had not taken the daughter to the library for a long time. The daughter just wanted to hold father's hand and looked at him with utmost satisfaction. Mother reminded him he was her husband and if he still loved the family and really concerned them, she requested and begged father to give up gambling the next day. Only did he promise to abstain from gambling, we might face the problem together no matter how big the problem was. She was willing to suffer. She longed for father's understanding. Father nodded to mother and burst out crying loudly and held mother tight without noticing anybody around. I peeped through the door chink and could help crying too. I rushed out and begged to father to promise mother to give up gambling. Father promised us to give up gambling from next day onwards and turned over a new leaf.
Then, father was referred to CAGCC through my school's social worker to see Miss Wong. Since father's case was revealed earlier. He was not identified as a pathological gambler but a problem gambler only. With the combination of father's determination and our support, father's case was described as positive. Miss Wong proposed a progressive plan for father and father had to see Miss Wong regularly. This might give father the progressing report and assessed father's psychological reaction. Father had to know himself and reflected what he had done was wrong. Father should be sure about his aim in life and improved his communication skills. This might lessen his psychological burden. Then, he should learn how to control emotion, use leisure time wisely and also acquire the skills of financial management. All the things done aims at making him get rid of the circle of gambling. Today, it is the time for father to see Miss Wong of CAGCC for nearly one year and it is also the time for our family counseling. During the interview, Miss Wong told us that father's improvement in gambling counseling is much faster and higher than my examination results at school. Miss Wong asked me what the most happiest thing was. I answered with four words "Gain after the loss". I said, "I lost a 5-day father but I got back a 7-day father".

(Translated by Patrick Tse)

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