PETALING JAYA: Thoughts of being a proud grandmother spending time with her grandchildren regularly play on the mind of Margaret Francis, but for this 62-year-old single mother it will remain an empty dream.
Her only child Audrey Melissa Bathinathan, on whom she had pinned her hopes, was cruelly snatched away when she was still in her teens. Audrey was raped and murdered in Kuala Lumpur on May 18, 1999.
In an interview with theSun, Francis described her daughter as an obedient, shy and reserved child.
“There isn’t a day that passes by that I do not think of my daughter and how much I miss her,” she said at her apartment in Taman Puchong Utama where she lives alone.
“Sometimes, I console myself by thinking that perhaps it is a blessing that she is dead as the emotional trauma she would have undergone as a result of the horrific ordeal would have been too much for her to bear.”
Francis had reached out to theSun on the day we recounted Audrey’s case in our “Crimes that shook the nation” column, saying that she wanted to tell her story.
What made it worse for her was the fact that there was still no closure to what she had gone through, knowing that the perpetrators are still at large.
“It makes me so angry and sad that justice has not been served. I have not lost hope and I always believe closure will come one day,” she said, choking up with grief.
She said her happiest memory of her daughter was when she danced with her cousins at a function at her aunt’s house in Bangsar about a month before her death.
“Everyone was surprised to see her dance because she was a very shy person. Then days later, she told me to take photographs of her in different clothes. Then just a couple of weeks later, she was gone forever. The night before she died, she did not take dinner and was very quiet. She always enjoyed my cooking and her favourite food was sambal ikan bilis with petai,” Francis said as she showed an album of the photographs she had taken of Audrey.
The emotional trauma of her child’s death has taken a toll on Francis who has been suffering from insomnia since the incident. She had a stroke in 2007.
“It took me six months to recover from the stroke with physiotherapy but I lost partial function of my left hand. I have not been employed since then. I also need to take sleeping pills every night and continue receiving counselling at KL Hospital,” she said.
“I wish I had a job, any job that can help me get my mind off Audrey but nobody wants to employ me as I am not computer-literate. I am lucky I have a godson who takes good care of me. My four siblings are also there for me when I need them.”
She passes her time decorating photo frames of her daughter with trinkets.