It was a Valentine’s Day gift. A gesture of love. Madam Narindar Kaur, 33, donated her kidney to husband Surendar Singh. In doing so, she sacrificed her life.
He had been undergoing dialysis for more than four years, but never thought that it was going to be her last gift to him.
The irony was tragic. In return for his life, he lost his wife.
Holding back his tears in his five-room HDB flat in Hougang, Mr Singh recalled their last meeting — at the hospital on Feb 16, two days after Valentine’s Day.
He said: “I still remember our last words to each other.
“I told her: ‘If tomorrow I am not there beside you, please don’t cry. Be proud of yourself for trying your best to free me from my misery. Live on happily, take care of the kids and we will share our love through this part of our bodies’.”
After a short pause, the 35-year-old civil servant gathered himself and added: “My angel’s tears rolled down and she told me not to talk like that.
“Then she said, ‘Dear, this is my Valentine’s gift to you’.”
“The nurse came and said it was time for the drip and, as she walked out of the room, my angel glanced back and gave me a very sweet smile.
“A smile that I can still see clearly in my mind.”
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And that is why, try as he does, guilt hangs over him like a dark, lingering shadow.
He sobbed: “I feel guilty every night. It is like I murdered her for my own selfishness.”
It is not made any easier when their children, especially Jesminpal Kaur, then 2, started asking for mum.
Elder sister Trinisha Kaur was then 10, while brother Balvinder Singh is a year younger.
Mr Singh, a Malaysian, came to Singapore in 1991 and got a job with Singapore Prisons.
He was introduced to Madam Narindar by a cousin in 1993 and by March 1994 they were married.
When his first contract was renewed, Mr Singh was so happy.
Then the first bout of bad news hit home. He was diagnosed with kidney problems. In stepped his “angel” who made it her personal business to control his diet.
Said Mr Singh: “She was an excellent wife who never once let me down. And she never once showed any sign of sadness or depression.”
He was struck down by the illness in 1999. Back home in Ipoh, he collapsed when his kidneys stopped functioning.
He said: “She was so strong and determined to see me pull through. She never gave up and was by my bedside for five days.”
She had him admitted to the National University Hospital where he spent more time in the intensive care unit.
Within a month of being discharged, he got on the National Kidney Foundation’s list, cutting his dialysis cost down to about $400 after deductions from his MediSave.
But his condition was worsening by the day.
Madam Narindar noticed it and broached the topic of a transplant.
Initially, he said “no”.
But his wife was persistent.
So it was a shock when he was told a few hours after the operation that Madam Narindar, his angel, had died.
Said Mr Singh: “I thought of what she had been through for me, of the kids and the fact that God had given me a second chance.
“Even then, some things remain unsure. Only time will tell if I survive this. My future is still a puzzle, but I know that my angel would want me to be strong for the kids.
“Fate has made her a part of me forever now. And I know that, just like before, she is probably watching over me.”
This article was originally published in The New Paper.