It was November 18th. The sun was shinning brightly outside my room window. Birds chirping happily.
All my friends has gathered in the living room, preparing for my 8th birthday. I didn't realize it then, but my mum's sweet and vibrant smile was not carved on her lovely lips that kissed me good night every night, without fail. Unfortunately, I was too excited to notice the restlessness in her eyes. How could you blame a 8 year old for missing that tiny detail out, when, even 30 year old men miss it in the eyes of their spouse.
We were out on the backyard, me in my shorts and 6 other friends from my kindergarten. Mum has filled up the large kids pool and spread it out at the backyard. As you can imagine, there was a ton of laughter, a bit of crying, a whole lot of jumping going on. Mum was standing by the back door, observing us, while talking to Ruby's mum, who volunteered to help arrange the party.
Looking back on the dreadful day, now I realize, Ruby's mum was looking gloomy too on the day, and giving me a tight hug and saying "You be strong okay kiddo?" I never understood what she meant back then.
After everyone had left the party, and I had opened up all my birthday gifts, including a ben-10 wrist watch I was dying to own for the past few months, mum asked "Who want's to take a walk to the park with mommy?" and she was all hyped in her voice.
I jumped with joy and put on my favorite blue Transformers t-shirt and skipped along, holding my mum's soft and dainty hands, the hands that never failed to make me feel comfortable, safe and warm.
We sat at my favourite spot under the huge tree that could have been a million years old, facing the pond where the kids used to play with their remote control boats. Mum promised me she would get one of those boats for me when I am older. Probably because we were poor and we din't have the money.
We were sitting there, on a perfect sunny day, throwing stones into the pond and talking about the party, when two strangers approached our bench. Looking up at them, mum did not say a word. It was like some kind of sign. Her face dropped and the fake smile she had on her beautiful face vanished.
Her lively and cheerful eyes were overshadowed by sorrow and tears. I said nothing. I just kept looking.
I am not sure what I was thinking.
"Hey honey, mummy going to get you vanilla ice-cream, okay? Stay here and be a good boy. Remember, mommy want to see you as a successful man in life okay?", she said hugging me and looking me right into my eyes. I wondered why she was saying all these before going to get me a vanilla ice-cream?
Being an 8 year old back then, I didn't have much to think about. I just nod my head.
I saw my mum walk away with the two strangers, both wearing red shirts and black jeans.
"I want sprinkles on top!" I yelled as she walked away, hoping she heard me.
Time passed by and I continued to wait. The bright sun was not so bright any longer, the joggers and kids with their remote control boats started to head back home, similarly like the hundreds of birds flying above my head, making loud noises.
I started to worry, and the worry turned into fear as night fell. The friendly bright sun had set, and the scary blanket of darkness has overcome the park. Luckily, there was the street light in the park.
I cried frantically, as I have never before. I shouted for my mum to no avail. I was too scared to stay, but even more afraid of leaving the bench. What if she returned?
I shut my eyes and continued crying. Wondering what had happened to my mum, why she hadn't returned, but worst of all, I feared of the creepy creatures that are in the park.
Suddenly, a shadowy figure walks towards me.
All the hairs on my body stand upright. Sudden chill run down my spine. I can't move. The fear has overwhelmed me.
My heart seemed to have stopped, and then...i start screaming, screaming on top of my lungs.
The shadowy figure, which appears to be a human figure, rushes to me fast and within no time, it was hugging me and saying "Its okay, shh...hey...calm down little guy".
It takes me almost 20 minutes to actually calm down and think straight.
It was a tall and thin man, looking down at me with concerned eyes.
He said in a calm and composed tone, "now, who have we here? What are you doing here all by yourself little guy?"
That was my breaking point again. Tears started flowing down my cheeks as I told him that my mum promised me to get me vanilla ice-cream and still has not returned.
The man listened to me calmly and finally said "you know what? It is getting awfully dark and cold out here. Why don't you come and stay with me for the night? We can come back tomorrow morning and wait for your mom"
"Mommy told me not to go out with strangers."
"Okay..if you say so.." and the man got up to leave. Obviously he was just trying to establish the point that I need him.
"Can you stay with me until my mum comes? please?" I plead. Hoping he would agree. He turned to me, smiled, and without saying another word, sat beside me.
We sat there for almost 20 minutes in complete silence. I held the man's hand tightly, so that he will not leave me there alone.
"Its awfully quiet here, don't you think? What's your name? I am Roy", the man said casually.
I was not sure if I should answer him, but I did anyway.
and with that, a long train of conversation had sparked, from my favorite football club, to my school friends, and in no time I forgot about my fears and started liking this man.
After a whole hour or so, the man finally said, "Its getting really late Johny boy and I don't think mommy is going to show up this late. As you don't remember your house address, why don't I take you back to my place and tomorrow, we can go over to your school? I am not a stranger now, we are practically best buddies!"
At 8 years old, I knew my school name, but not my house address, nor the way back to my house.
But, it was really easy to manipulate me, as I completely believed that he was indeed my friend, just because he and I had a conversation for 1 hour.
I nodded, held his hand and walked across the mist filled grass.
Little did I know what was to come of the decision I took, on that park bench.