Panting furiously, with my feet pounding the
pavement, I raced to the bus stop – I could not afford to
miss the bus! It had been a long day in school, made worse
by the fact that I had to attend three dreary hours of
mathematics supplementary lessons. Joining a queue of
adults shuffling onto the bus that had arrived, I speedily dug
out my EZ-link card from my bag, praying fervently that
there would vacant seats left.
I was fortunate – I managed to find one, next to a
little boy who was dozing off. I guessed that he could be no
more than five years old. I began to wonder… hmmm…all
by himself on public transport at such a tender age? My
thoughts then whirled around recent reports of children
being abandoned… but on a bus? In law-abiding
Singapore? That would be a first! However ‘intrigued’ as I
was about the possible scenarios, my curiosity about the
matter waned as weariness soon took over. Just as I was
about to drift off to slumberland, a noise jolted me wide
awake! The noise had apparently come from the boy next to
me – he was bawling uncontrollably!
“Where is my brother?” he sobbed. Trying my best
to calm him down, I asked him what had happened.
“He… he was taking me to a movie with… with his
friends,” he replied, still sobbing. “I fell asleep and… and
now they… they are gone!”
A passenger sitting behind me had obviously
overheard the conversation and she promptly cut in, “I
believe he’s from Creeksville Primary, your school, and his
name is Thomas Chen,” she said. Taking a quick glance at
the water bottle the boy was firmly holding on to – I espied a
‘Terence Chen’ sticker on the cover. That should lend some
credibility to the lady passenger’s statement. Grudgingly
taking out my mobile phone from my bag, I scrolled down
my ‘Favourites’ list and lightly touched the screen above the
all too familiar contact.
“Creeksville Primary, how may I help you?” a staff
member, presumably Mrs Lim, our clerical assistant,
answered. After having identified myself and relating the
circumstances I was in, I asked if there was a boy in the
school by the name of Thomas Chen and whether I could
have his parents’ contacts, of which Mrs Tan duly provided.
I then called the boy’s mother. After informing her
about what had happened, her tone changed greatly – you
could just sense the anxiety and tension in her voice. I told
her not to worry and that I would arrange for her to pick her
child up at the next bus stop. Further calming the boy down
by tapping him on his shoulder, I gently explained to him
that I would alight with him at the next stop to wait for his
mother. As reluctant as he seemed to be initially, he nodded
I even had the presence of mind to take a book from
my bag to read a story to him while waiting for his mother to
arrive at the bus stop. At least he seemed oddly enthusiastic enough.
Finally, a black Honda pulled up in front of us and
out came a woman – dishevelled hair and all.
“Mummy!” the boy cried, sprinting towards her – I
had never known five-year-olds to be able to run that fast.
She had to be the boy’s mother. The scene that unfolded
before my eyes a short while later would forever remain a
poignant moment in my memory. Just as I was about to
leave, she thanked me profusely for having taken care of
Terence in her, or more aptly put, Thomas’ ‘absence’.
Later that night, I received a heart-warming text
message from the boy’s mother, Mrs Chen, thanking me
again, as well as, relating to me how Terence’s brother,
Thomas, had been too engrossed in chatting with his mates
on the bus that he totally forgot about his brother’s very
My parents knew not of that afternoon’s
unforgettable proceedings – not that I had to tell them
anyway. In fact, basking in the quiet comfort of knowing
that I had actually helped someone sure feels great.
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