Sunday, August 03, 2003

the old lady

The door bell rang. It was late that night. Very late. In fact, it was just past midnite. Who could it be? Everyone in the family is already in bed sleeping. Even Aunt K is sleeping soundly as I sat there watching the fillers in between Buffy and Angel. I was the only person still awake.

Who could possibly have the bad manners to come visiting unannounced at this godforsaken hour?

I opened the door. There was someone standing at the gate. "Someone or something!", thought my overactive imagination. The 'someone' was just a shadowy figure; lights from the porch did not travel enough to light the gates for a clear view.

After much neck craning and eye squinting, to no effect, I decided to go out and check who might be out there. All the time worried that I'm doing that; going out into the night alone, with no one else in sight on the road. Quite different from walking alone at 2am on well lit and populated places after clubbing hours. I know I am at home and everything but it just seemed a little scary.

It was a lady. An old chinese lady with short curly hair. She was holding a plastic bag in one hand and the other was scratching her forehead in a gesture much like when you're confused or worried.

She's lost. She spoke in cantonese. She said, "Oh no! I think I took the wrong turn."

I asked her who she was looking for. She mumbled a name. A name which I did not quite catch but didn't sound like anyone of the people I know that lived around my place. Not surprising as I don't know a lot of people living on my street. Only my immediate neighbours and those two to three doors on the left and the right. Anyone beyond that I do not have an inkling if they were chinese, malay or indian or if they were a family or not.

I told the lady, "No. Nobody like that lives here."

She walked off as I was saying that. Walked towards the other houses as I walked back into the house.

I was tempted to offer to take in my car and drive her around to look for the house she was looking for or maybe send her to the police station so that they could help her but I didn't. I didn't because I keep hearing the horror stories of kidnappings. How the get some innoccent lookin lady to ask for help and then when you get out to try and help, they snatch you.

She didn't seem like she might be though. I suppose that they would have to look that way. Believeable or else the trick won't work, right?

But then, she really didn't seem that way. She just looked like a little lost old lady. Someone's lost grandma. Someone's grandma can't find her way home. What if that was my grandma and nobody will help her because they were afraid?

I watch her walk all the way to the end of the road, stopping in front of a few houses wondering if they were the house she was looking for. I watched her through my locked grilled front door. Hoping that everytime she stopped, that was the house she's suppose to go to. But it never was. She walked all the way to the end of the road and turned back. She passed my way as she headed for the other side of the road. I stood there watching.

Just stood there and watched. All the while thinking whether I should go out there and maybe walk with her and try to find where ever she was looking for. Help her.

But I didn't. I didn't even wait till she got to the other end of the road.

I walked back to my chair. Went back to my tv. Sat there watching while my aunt slept, while my parents slept, while the lady keeps on walking, keep on searching and nobody in my family knew that it happened. Nobody knows what an unhelpful person I have been cause I was scared. Or is that my excuse?

Was fear my excuse for not wanting to help? I'm hoping that it's not.

That was two days ago. I hope the poor old lady's found the house she was looking for. Maybe she found someone less afraid to help her. That would be good. I hope she's safe.

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