‘What? It’s you? You? The…the thief?’ Mum had an exasperated look on her face, with her body trembling.
The story happened when I was eight years old. Mum had run a small store in Shenzhen since I was in kindergarten. I was glad about that since I could have a lot snacks for free.
My brother and I always crushed for home after school. We asked for snacks such as ice-cream, candies, bubble gums, soft drinks… Usually, Mum only gave us the food which was badly packed or nearly expired. But we were lucky sometimes since we could taste the newly released snacks. It’s awesome!
I become an unpaid shop assistant in the store when I was eight. Mum required my brother and me to watch the store for her by turns.
One Sunday morning, it was my turn to watch the store. I was doing my homework while keeping the store.
Soon I heard someone was hawking outside, ‘candied haws, candied haws. Come and buy one for three dollars.’
Then I rushed out to have a look. ‘How much is it?’ I asked the hawker who was in his fifties.
‘It costs you just three dollars for one string of candied haws’ he replied.
I was drooling over the candled haws. ‘Ouch! I just get only two dollars in my pocket. But I really want to have a try.’ I mumbled.
I came up with a bad idea—taking money from the cash box in the store. I promised myself I would never do that again.
However, candied haws were as addictive as drugs. I couldn’t stop myself eating the delicious food when the hawker was nearby, tempting me to buy. Every time he came, I just took money from the store and exchanged for candied haws. Certainly, I dared not to tell Mum.
Murder will out. Mum discovered some money was taken from the cash box soon after she did the monthly accounting. P. 1
‘Oh my god, what’s wrong with it? ’ She found that forty-two dollars was missing. Then she quickly came out with a conclusion– someone had stolen that money.
She cross-examined us, with a 20-inch stick on her hand, ‘Now I suspect you two little guys have stolen my money. Do admit it or I will give you a good beating.’
I kept silent and afraid of admitting guilt.
‘I am not the thief. I have never, never taken your money.’ I replied.
My brother denied too.
Mum was driven mad and shouted at us, ‘Don’t lie to me, don’t you remember that children shouldn’t lie to parents? You two steal money and lie to me. You are so outrageous’
‘Jason, is that you?’ she asked my brother again.
‘No, Mum. It’s not me. Believe me please!’ My brother denied again.
‘Is that you? Sophia.’ She stared at me and asked.
‘No, Mum. I’m the thief.’ I sobbed and said.
She was furious at that moment. Our denial didn’t absolve us from harsh punishment.
‘You two really sadden me. I’m so regretful to have you two disobedient kids with me.’ She scolded us. She was crazy that night and beat us heavily.
While she was punishing us, Dad came back and stopped her.
I blamed myself for my dishonesty and greediness. I felt sorry about Jason. He was innocent. I decided to plead guilty.
So the other day, I apologize to my parents.
Mum was still in a bad mood. She felt disappointed with me. I cried and pled for her forgiveness.
P. 2 Dad tried to lessen tension between us. He said, ‘Sophia, you should ask us before take money. It’s vital for a shop assistant to be disciplined. Um, we can give you one chance but you should meet our target.’
‘What’s the target? Dad.’ I asked
‘Well, it seems that children like candied haws very much. I think it is a profitable business to sell the food. So, I think you can be our shop manager to import them and sell them. If you can earn double amount of money you steal from us, we will consider forgiving you.’ He said.
‘What do you think, my sweetheart?’ He asked Mum
‘Alright! Why not?’ Mum seemed satisfied with the idea.
‘So, Sophia. Do you accept my awesome transaction?’ Dad said to me.
‘Um… yes, I do.’ I replied.
‘New hopes after a disastrous period. I am a genius, right?’ He praised himself
We all laughed.