Friends have always said that I’m probably the most innocent person of our age group. My dad, in particular, has always treated me like a princess, ever protective, shielding me with all his power from what he thinks could potentially put my safety in harm. When I was in secondary school, I was never allowed to go out with friends. And even now, age 23, if I’m ever at home, I’m not allowed to stay out till after midnight, and one of my friends nicknamed me “Cinderella” just because of that. “Gracie should never arrive home after 12am”, he once said to other friends.
Ah, the beauty of pure innocence. I tried really hard, not to immerse myself in anything which is ‘bad’, no swearing, no drinking, smoking is unthinkable, and drugs are hell-worthy. I’ve never been to a pub till two months ago, and I’ve never been to a karaoke till last year. I realized that I preserved my innocence until these very recent years in Australia, where I had to survive by myself and learn how to protect myself from strangers and people who just want to rip benefits off you, or want to do nothing else but to harm you emotionally if not physically.
Just this morning, I was alone at a train station when a middle-aged man approached me. He said a lot of stuff, like how his car broke down, how he left his phone and money at another place, just a whole lot of stuff. Even before he finished talking, I’ve already had my guard up. He asked me for money, and I lied. I clutched my handbag tightly, the handbag which contained my freshly-earned wages from the morning’s piano class, and lied to him “Sorry, I don’t carry cash with me”.
He persisted, “Not even 2 dollars?”,
And I didn’t back down, “No, I’m sorry”.
He paused for a while before leaving. As he walked away, it suddenly hit me that I’m no longer that innocent… When did I learn to stop believing in good people and started putting my guard up? When did I lose trust in strangers, thinking that all they want is to take something which belongs to me?And since when did I stop having the courage and innocence to rush to help people with all that’s within my ability? Does this all mean that I’m growing up?
I remember there was a time that I would not hesitate to help anyone… I remember meeting a street performer some years ago, he was playing a Chinese flute, reminding me of my dad, and without hesitation I gave him 10 dollars.
On the way home, I realise that, next time if I’m stuck alone with no money, I should not expect strangers to help me without delay, since I myself have already lost the innocence of simply believing in that everyone has a good side.