Siew looked at the lady in gratitude. Finally, someone was going to help her
obtain medical help for her father. she may only be ten years old, but Siew
understood how much money $40,000 was. It was way beyond her ability to ever
earn such a large amount of money. No matter how many cardboard pieces she
picked up to sell to the rag-and-bone man, she would never earn even a quarter
of that amount. Her beloved father lay on the rough bedding of old newspapers
and other 'castaways' salvaged from the
rubbish dumps. His fever was raging as high as ever, with the infection slowly
but surely spreading in his body.
The woman smiled at the little girl. What a
Siewt little thing, she thought. It was really such a waste, sending her on such
a dangerous mission. But she had no choice. Someone had to plant the bomb, and
sacrifices in the course of the revolution were inevitable. The lady clasped
Siew's hands in her well-manicured ones and solemnly agreed to get her father
the best treatment possible if she succeeded in delivering the package safely.
Siew was only too happy to agree.
The next morning, Siew was handed a large parcel. Her job was to place it by
the first table in the popular restaurant downtown. After that, the lady
promised that she would send her father to the best hospital where he would be
treated for his infection. Siew skipped almost gaily
to the destination. She thought about her kind father who had struggled to bring
her up in a manner that was dignified and proper. He never let her beg or do so
himself. All that they earned came from hard work. Tears collected in her eyes
as she thought of how much she loved him. With renewed determination, she
trudged quickly to the restaurant.
Her presence in the restaurant was not noticed by anyone. After all, she was
too small to catch the attention of the busy waiters. She left the parcel and
then ran quickly back to the shelter where her father was. Siew was so excited
that she had managed to earn the money to save her father. She would tell him
proudly when he awoke that she did not beg for it. Sitting by her father as he
groaned in his semi-conscious state, she waited patiently.
Night came and then morning approached, but still the lady did not show up.
Siew went outside to see if she was coming. She tried to tell herself that
perhaps the lady could not remember where the shelter was. But it was of no use.
She had to face what she had refused to acknowledge. It was obvious that the
lady had never intended to keep her promise. Finally, Siew's forced optimism
crumbled and she sat down on the gutter
outside the shelter, her sobs mixing with her father's groans to form sad music
in the still of the night.