Yesterday, I was so excited to come home after work. Sometime later, I will tell you why.
What greeted me yesterday are torn faces, their shoulders shrugged down due to frustration. Mother, who usually welcomes me with a happy tone, seemed to have lost track of her words, and instead, started with a “Naku, anak…” (Oh, my daughter..)
I was not able to change my clothes completely as I figured I should listen to what she had to say. I glanced upon my older sister, just to witness a sad look mixed with disappointment.
Mother said that she lost a large amount of money to a thief. Yes, you read it right; someone stole the money she is supposed to use for grocery, with the rest as budget for the next fifteen days. I was at loss of words; I couldn’t find the right response to that. I can’t believe what just happened.
It is the salary of my older sister, fresh from withdrawal from the near ATM within the premises of the store where theft has occurred. It is planned to be used to sustain us for the next fifteen days, (because my sister gets her salary every 15th and 30th of the month.
It is the fifteen days’ worth of my sister’s hard work, all her efforts, which just flew away within an hour of crime. My older sister wakes up so early to prepare for work, and she comes home late as well. She has been a remarkable bread winner to us, one that I always look up to, because she is generous to our family. Others could have kept the salary to themselves, but she chose to use it as our main source of income for the family.
I will not say the exact amount; just imagine your two weeks’ worth of salary, going down the drain without your control.
My sister’s name is Grace. She has been working since 18 years old: she’s now 23. She has sacrificed studying college and let me finish first. Our family couldn’t afford to send us both to college, and she gave way for me. Now, I have graduated and I also work as the bread winner of our family.
Grace works even on weekends, that’s how the company she’s working at operates. She works on different shifts, day and night. When she got kidney stones, we suspected it’s due to the nature of her work. She has minimum times to drink water, since, in her work, she’s required to wear a bunny suit, which is really inconvenient and time-consuming to wear and undress.
Below is a sample of a bunny suit PPE:
I hope she can have a better job soon, or better, if she can stop working and pursue continuing her education. However, our current financial situation does not seem to allow that yet. Hopefully, I can earn enough to support our family and help her study like how she did to me.
The reason I say she’s amazing because she did not react violently. Others would have disrespected the mother, plus all sorts of insults going on. My Ate, despite feeling disappointed and quite mad, kept her calm, and did not make mom feel so bad.
My mother has never failed to remind us to be careful of our belongings, because there are really people out there who have made theft their profession, their way of life, as if there is no other means. Until now, she can’t believe that after so many years of experience, she has still fallen victim.
I made sure to make mom feel that it should not stress her so much, as it can’t be undone anyway. We made sure to make her feel that it’s okay, and to just be extra mindful next time. It’s not like we can take back the money or the time if we keep on dwelling on it. Take it from me. I’ve been there, done that.
Right now, I am lying on my bed, and I can’t stop thinking about her. I hope she got a good sleep last night. I hope she won’t let the unfortunate event scar her for life.
I used to be a bit traumatized by my own experience. It’s my phone which was stolen. You might think, it’s not anything grand; I can just buy a new one. It’s true, until I tell you these things:
I consider it as my first ever fruit of my labor. It’s the first thing that I can proudly say I have bought with my own money. I paid it through installment every month for almost a year. I treasure it so much. The memory card I used there is also the only one I had been using since I was college; through an old phone I was given. All my college days’ memories are there, pictures of my favorite dog from when she was younger up to when she was two years old. Everything was there.
I had to hide what happened from everyone for several days. I felt so scared as to how they would react. I couldn’t keep the CCTV footage out of my mind, the actual footage that was shown to me about the act. The video played into my mind like a loop, and it had always made me tremble, or cry to sleep.
Those are in the past. Thankfully, I have moved on from that and charged it to experience. I learned to become more careful of my stuff from that day on.
Now it isn't bothering me at all.
As per my mom's narration, it could be that the offender may have stalked her from where she was withdrawing the cash from an Automated Teller Machine (or ATM). And that person followed her going to the store.
Mom put her wallet inside the push cart, along with the groceries. She's sure it's there. Not until she was in the cashier's counter, where she realized the worst has happened.
To make things further unfortunate, it's so difficult to retrieve the CCTV footage until the 'branch manager is notified and given permission of the main branch'. What a lousy, crime tolerating policy. Of course, the suspect, (or suspects) may have already been long gone.
What a dead justice.
I picture my mom looking forward to what she'll cook for dinner after she shopped. Or the new items she got us. Only for all those things to be back to the store's shelves because of a crime.
I have not withdrawn my salary yet, and somehow, I felt scared again. These days are really different from before. Criminals have become more confident, because they aren't punished. I envy other countries where you may mistakenly leave your bag in the middle of the street, and still get it on the same place, with no scratch.
In my country, you can lose anything valuable if you forgot to focus on it for just a second. Just a second, and it's gone.
I can't still comprehend what is going on in the minds of these kind of people. Do I have to understand their alibis? They can't get a job; life is really hard for them; they have no choice—so many alibis on why they did it. Alibis that are sugar coated as valid reasons.
Isn't life hard on all of us, too? Do these offenders think what their victims went through to earn? They only focus on getting their tummies filled, or busy hating on the government, or blaming others on why their lives are a mess.
They forgot that all of us experience the storms in life, and some still chose the right, difficult way.
Some work 27 hours in a day (if that's possible); sometimes relationship among family members are compromised because they work and work just to earn and provide. Yet, these free-loaders exist.
If I had one superpowers, it is to be able to see through every single criminal and punish them with the sense of justice, right away.
Anyway, I won't let what happened spoil the happiness and excitement I felt yesterday. Something I was waiting for eventually arrived home, and I am so happy with that.
Next time, I will share this story with you. A happy bit of memory that took place the same day as yesterday.
April 14, Wednesday: What a day.
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