THE man was a Chinese national. His accent was thick, the sort one would describe as having a “curl of the tongue,” exactly how Mandarin is spoken in mainland China. He was at the bus-stop just outside the Choa Chu Kang MRT station with a suitcase, two nylon duffel bags, and a bulging backpack weighing down his tall, wiry frame.
“Excuse me, miss,” he spoke to me in Mandarin, while sipping his 7-eleven Slurpee. “Does number 172 go to Block 40?”
“Yes,” I said, irked by his bad breath and his unkempt look.
“Thank you, thank you!” he said. “So you live around here?”
“Yes,” I said, smiling as politely as I could. I returned quickly to my book, Michael Morpurgo’s Listen to the Moon, hoping he wouldn’t continue his chit chat with me. If only my mother would show up quickly. She is always late.
Presently, it was eight past three o’clock. That’s eight minutes late.
The man sat on the bench just a couple of feet away from me, slurping his Slurpee loudly, sighing loudly after each slurp. Then, he slipped his backpack off his shoulders and lay it on the ground between his feet. It was now 12 minutes past the hour, and his bus hadn’t yet arrived, neither had my mother. I was getting antsy. I just wanted to get home quickly.
Finally, his bus showed up. “My bus is here, miss,” the man said, “thanks again.” Then he made his way up the bus with his trail of baggages in tow.
As soon as the bus had driven off, I heard someone scream: “Hey, your bag!” I turned around and saw his backpack by the bench and his Slurpee paper cup next to it. Now, that’s a litterbug, but what’s the deal with his bag? A young man ran down to the MRT station and summoned a station officer.
Could there be a bomb in the bag? I stepped away to keep a distance, and admired the MRT officer for his courage. First, he picked up the Slurpee and tossed it into a rubbish bin, then he unhitched the backpack. There was a rumple of shirts, a water bottle, a handphone, and some magazines. The Chinese man had obviously forgotten his bag.
In this age of terrorism, anyone could do anything to harm the public. Thank goodness, he was just a klutz.
Faith Yang, Primary Four
This essay was written in response to scenario:
You were on your way home from school when you saw a suspicious-looking man depositing a bag at the bus-stop