Covid-19 travel curbs: Father hopes his three kids in Malaysia can still remember him

Mr Faisal Abidi with his wife, Ms Natrah Amalina, and their twin daughters, Aisha Maryam (far left) and Airis Mikhayla, in Melaka in 2019. The girls are now four years old, and the couple also have a two-year-old son. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FAISAL ABIDI

SINGAPORE - Malaysian Faisal Abidi, 36, a warehouse leader, has been working in Singapore since late 2013.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Malaysian commuted from Johor Baru to Singapore daily.

When the pandemic worsened in March last year, he stayed in Singapore. His homemaker wife, Ms Natrah Amalina, 28, and their children - twin daughters, four, and a son, two - remained in Malaysia.

Mr Faisal has not seen his family in 14 months but is reluctant to make the trip home, as he would incur a hefty bill from the quarantine, along with a loss in income from taking weeks off work.

"I have house and car bills to pay. I have kids who need to go to school. I have parents who need to be taken care of," he said.

Mr Faisal now lives in a rented room in Sembawang.

He sends home three-quarters of his $2,000 monthly salary, leaving just enough for rent and other expenses.

Over the past year, in addition to missing the birthdays of his wife and children, Mr Faisal was unable to attend his cousin's wedding last December, as well as four funerals - his aunt's, his two grandaunts' and his great-uncle's.

"I felt sad, but I can only cry and pray from here. I can't do anything," he said. "I miss my wife. I can't play with my kids, I can't touch them, put them to bed or take them out."

He can only video-call them every day.

"I always tell them to keep strong, I will be back and I love them all," he said.

Mr Faisal looks forward to the day when the border measures are lifted, and he can spend time with his family. "More than a year has been wasted. I hope my children still remember me."

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