She has been sitting at the stair case in front of the home waiting for the taxi to come for almost 30
mins now. The waiting has made her restless. “Hopefully I can get back in time before Ashwini”
whispering to herself “Oh! Well just bad luck, it’s Friday. It is always difficult to get a taxi on Fridays
being the prayers day for Muslim. Lucky enough for her to get one, some Fridays not even one taxis
available at all. She has to either wait for hours for one or walk to the main road which is about 200
They’re planning to go back to Singapore tomorrow for the weekend, one of their regular monthly
visits home. She looks forward for such visits. So many things she wants to do; to the library… to her
favorite book shop… to Holland Village where she can get her magazine. Not just any other
magazine, but magazines that you can never see in the normal book shop.
A saw her. She came walking down from the second floor. “Just finish cleaning up the girls'
dormitory” she said and sat beside her. She has known A since 1998 when the home was at the old
place: a rented double story bungalow house in Taman Kanagapuram. She didn’t pay much
attention to her then; short, dark skin with short curly hair. She saw scars on her face and didn’t ask
to how she got the scars. There’s certain thing you don’t ask unless they are willing to tell you. She
has learned this during her early days in the home.
“Christmas just round the corner; a lot of presents and visitors” she tried to start a conversation. A is
not a person of many words but you could always see her smile. Visitors would not fall so easily
with her. Whenever A saw her, she would just greet and smile. Many a time she would observe her
from afar as she does her daily cores in the home. Once in a while she would come in to bring in
her coffee or some snacks. It‘s difficult not to pay attention to this petite girl. Who is she? Why is she
here? But she never gets the chance to find out more. Her duties in the home always occupied with
other administrative work.
A did not respond. She stared straight at the road. “Taxi not here yet aunty?”
“Not yet….” She looked at A “What’s the matter? Don’t you like Christmas?
“I do.. I like when people come and visit us” wanting to continue but
somehow the words stop.
“Did anybody visit you?” She asked. A shook her head.
“When was the last time your mother visited you?
“I can’t remember aunty. They told me my mother is not well”
“I am sorry to hear that”
Then there were silence for a while. She has not stopped looking at A
trying to read the facial expression. Facial expression is an important
channel of nonverbal communication. She learnt this in her nursing
psychology class. Like a switch on a railroad track, it has an effect on the
person’s social interaction just the way the switch would affect the path of
A face is a face of resignation. There’s neither sadness nor happiness.
Both have become one.
“Are you happy here A?
A nodded her head. “Uncle Joseph and Aunty Mary are nice to me. Aunty
Pearly too is nice. I like them. Whenever they come, they would always talk
to me.. but sometimes …..”
“ Sometimes? Go on.. you want to say something to me.
“Makcik their words hurt me aunty. They scold me and call me names “
“They do? What did they tell you”
“They said nobody wants me that is why I am here. My mother does not want me anymore that’s why she never visits me.”
She could see the teary eyes and the pain. She took out her tissue paper and wipes away the tears, held her head and
gently led it rest on her left shoulder as her hand held her shoulder, bringing A closer to her.
“Is it true aunty? Nobody wants me that is why I am here?”
“No! No! never say those words. It’ not true. Now you should never believe what those maids told you. Sometimes they
say such harsh things to hurt you. Did you quarrel with them again?”
“Yes! I did. They make me do a lot of things, and would not allow me to rest sometimes. I always get scolding especially
from the older one”
“You tell anybody about this.. to Uncle Joseph or Aunty Mary?
“I did once then later at night when Uncle Joseph and Aunty Mary have gone home and everybody sleeping they will scold
me. They will say all those words to me. I am a nobody child, my mother throw me away”
She immediately place her hand on her mouth. “shh! Aunty don’t want to hear those words again you understand. Listen
okay now! Never believe what they told you. It’s not true that nobody wants you, uncle and aunty wants you. If nobody
wants to take you back, we will” She stop for a moment to gather her thoughts. “Now A if aunty were to give you a wish,
tell me what that wish will be?” “I want to go home Aunty. I do not want to stay here .. I want to have a place on my own
and to work like other people. Why can’t I be like other people?”
“.. and so you shall but first you must learn how to read, write and count. Shall we work on that first?” A gave her a big
smile and a hug before she made her way to the waiting taxi.
As the taxi move away towards the main street, she looked back at the figure still standing in front of the main gate of the
home waving , a small but resilient voice began to question her “…and how the hell are you going to do that?”
“Don’t know, but I will do what I must”