Laila came home one afternoon after school and found her mother gone. She knew
her mother was unhappy for she did not smile anymore. Moreover, she cried a lot
at night. Laila sat on the doorsteps and waited till midnight. Her mother did
not come home. Her father, Mr Siva, came back late. He pretended that nothing
Soon a year passed. There was not a single day Laila hoped her
mother would come back. Every night, she went to bed hoping the next day, her
mother would be there to wake her up for school. Every day, after school she
hoped to see her mother in the kitchen when she came home. Her school grades
were dropping badly. Her teachers complained about her homework and tests marks.
They often caught her daydreaming in class.
Her classmates and friends were finding her difficult. They thought she was
strange. There was one day, her friend, Jill, saw her in the toilet talking to
herself. She was talking to her reflection
in the mirror! Jill felt frightened and ran out. After this, everyone avoided
her like the plague.
It was then she decided to run away from home. She did wonder, "To where?"
She did not have the answer. But she had come to a point where she did not care
anymore. All she knew was that she just had to leave home.
That morning, she got up early. Somehow, her decision to leave home had made
her stronger. She quickly packed her bags. For the first few days, she had
nowhere to go. She had little money. So she had to be careful about what she
spent on. At night, she slept on the staircase of a block of apartments. She
would walk along the streets the whole day till she was
exhausted. And she went back to the staircase late at night. This
was after the residents were asleep.
Meanwhile, Mr Siva was very worried about his daughter. He checked with her
teachers, classmates, friends and relatives. Nobody knew where she was.
They advised him, "Go and make a police report. The police will look for
On the sixth day of her running away, Mr Siva heard a heavy knock on his
door. He opened the door and saw his neighbour, Ah Seng. He was saying, "Someone
saw your daughter."
Mr Siva's hands were trembling. Ah Seng was holding a newspaper. He turned to
the second page of the newspaper. "Look! This is your daughter's picture."
Mr Siva looked at the picture. Oh yes, it was her picture all right. The
picture was with an article. The headlines read: `Missing girl had an accident'.
It continued to say that she saved a little boy who was running across the road.
Without changing his clothes, he rushed all the way to the hospital where his
daughter was. He saw her lying on the bed. Daughter and father held each other
and cried in happiness. They were so glad they had found each other again. Mr
Siva vowed to his daughter that he would be
a good father to her.