'We still hope they'll come back'
Submitted by shaza on Friday, August 26th, 2011
Friday, August 26th, 2011 11:22:00
PETALING JAYA: For the past three years, the parents of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar and Ferris Mokhtar have been waiting for their missing children to return to their arms.
And for the last Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, they have been... disappointed. Yet, they share a common trait - they will never give up hope.
Every Raya, the parents would buy new baju raya and lay it out neatly on their children's beds in the hope, if they miraculously return on the big day, they could immediately don the new festive clothes.
Three years and still counting
Mother yearning for return of son taken by foreign ex-husband
GOMBAK: This will be the third Hari Raya Elis Syuhaila Mokhtar would be forced to spend without her only son, Ferris Mokhtar.
"I can't even say it's going to be a Raya celebration, ever since Ferris was taken away. A huge part of my life is missing. Everything I do feels incomplete without him," said the 36-year-old.
When The Malay Mail visited her Selayang home recently, she proudly showed the baju melayu she had bought for her son this Raya.
"I still buy him gifts and clothes for his birthday and Raya, hoping he will return. Despite each disappointment, I continue doing this as I know I'll get him back."
Elis' life has been empty ever since Ferris was taken away by her estranged Dutch ex-husband, Frank Theodorus Van de Ven @ Firdaus, after the couple had a fallout.
Her ordeal started when she and Van de Ven filed for divorce in January 2008. They took weekly turns looking after Ferris until March 5 that year, when the father failed to return the boy.
Later that month, the Shah Alam Syariah Court issued an arrest warrant for the computer programmer and even requested Interpol's cooperation to arrest and stop him from leaving Malaysia.
For Elis, not having heard anything about her son, his whereabouts, and not having even seen a photograph of him, has been an excruciating and harsh reality.
"All I have is Frank's email address I write to almost every day, asking him to at least let me speak to Ferris over the phone, or send me a picture. But he has never replied," she said.
"I want to know how my son looks like now. It has been three years. He turns eight on Dec 7."
Although convinced Ferris is in Belgium, Elis does not believe he is being cared for by her ex.
"Probably Frank's parents are," she said.
Recalling her depression, Elis said at one point, she could only stay home and weep.
"When I was fighting to get my son back, I was busy meeting people, from ministers to police and non-governmental organisations, hoping they could help.
"When all my efforts failed, I didn't know what else to do."
She said even with the support of friends, cousins and her sister, especially, she still could not pull herself together.
But things changed last year when she dreamt of her boy.
"In my dream, Ferris told me he wanted to come home. I was confused, thinking which home he was referring to. I remember crying in the dream when Ferris said to me 'I am fine, Umi (mother)'," she said, holding back tears.
Elis said that dream started her working again so she could save money and go to Belgium to locate her son.
"I was a fine arts student, I started painting again, hoping to sell my artwork. I also started lecturing on the subject in a private college here since February."
She said she would need a lawyer when going to Belgium as there was a chance she could be detained upon entering the country.
"I don't know what Frank has told the authorities there. He had earlier claimed I kidnapped Ferris and fled to Manila in 2007. There's also the ongoing custody battle so I will need legal advice when I go there."
Speaking more to herself than to this reporter at this point, Elis said: "I need to save money and go to Belgium to find my son, that's my motivation every day."