I start by saying that when I was in 2nd grade, I stole an eraser from my best friend because its dust was bizarre and nothing like what I had seen before. It was a deliberate attempt and owning something that I knew I would never own had I not taken that chance. I was not guilty, and I feel no sudden pang of regret at doing it, even though I knew that in principle, I had performed an act that I should have been ashamed of. I stole stationery lots of times, funnily shaped erasers and monster pencils. None have been regretted. The pleasure I would derive from that particular product, just to look at it and understand that I had something that was unique, overshot the realization of it being a wrong act.
Today, I had to pay all that stationery back.
Long story short, I was stolen from. And no, I do not mean it in the philosophical or emotional sense; I mean that someone went into my bag, gently slid out my wallet, opened it, and managed to take the money that I had very recently acquired from my parents. It was a job neatly done in the RC property counter, a place where a lot of people carelessly leave their wallets and other belongings even though there is a warning that screams out not to. In a scenario that something of this sort does happen, the authorities are helpless because well, the students have to be careful. I should have been careful.
This is not the first time something of this kind has happened to me. I have been stolen of items worth more than the money this has costed me, and that was quite hurtful, because a phone has a more intimate a value than money (and it was obviously more in amount). But this was different. This was in a place I have mistakenly called home many times, much to my mother’s dismay.
After a year of sloppiness, I was finally punished for being too trusting of the same people that I shared classrooms, professors, notes, films and books with. After crying enough to dampen my guilt, I called my parents, who only cared about their daughter not crying. They even insisted I eat out to cheer myself up. My father told me he did not want me crying because I lost something that had monetary value, because it was not worth that to him, and I did believe him. Living in guilt for too long is tiring and honestly not conducive to actually moving on, and so I hooded my feelings under actually trying to convince myself that it was just bad luck.
But the truth is, that if it was bad luck for me, it was a fortune for someone who currently has my money. When I went to the café teary-eyed and willing to not spend another penny on anything I didn’t need, I looked around and realized that it could be any of the hundred odd people cheerfully chatting away in front of me. It could be a friend, it could be a stranger, and it could be someone I meet in one of the clubs that I am a part of. It could be a senior who probably thought of me as no one but a light brown wallet, or it could be a junior who didn’t know me at all. It could be someone I had seen around campus, a friend of a distant friend, someone who had heard my name in a fleeting gesture of admiration or disrespect. Had they known it was me they had stolen from?
The person had been kind to me. They had taken my money, spared me some change for dinner, left the bills that I had sensibly saved in case I ever had to get the things that I had bought returned, and also spared my college ID card and my driver’s license. I know how inconvenient it would have been if even that had been taken away from me. I like to think that the person who fiddled through my wallet thought that maybe it was only good manners to leave me something that I could feel relief over. Just enough to make me realize that it was a human who did it, not a machine who only knew how to possess, but not to acknowledge. It was more kindness that what I had provided my best friend with.
It was about the money, yes, and I believe that had it not been as large an amount as it was, I would have been less hurt and upset about the state of shock that it had brought to my doorstep. But more than that it was about realizing that there was someone who thought it easy to actually take from someone what they probably did not deserve, and worse, that they actually performed the act and proved it. A student, just like me, who has probably has similar experiences to mine, has had a similar preaching of honesty as me, and who knew that it was wrong to steal.
I am sure whoever it was will probably not read this, or they might, but there is one thing I desperately wish. I wish that they took the money because they needed it. Because they had some very important purpose for it. I hope that they derive more happiness out of it than what they took from me. I wish there was a way to know whether that person took the crisp currency in their hands and looked at it with the same wonder that I looked at a monster pencil with. I hope they know how much pain it caused me, and how averse they have made me of actually being in the RC. I hope they understand that I am slightly less trusting of everyone I meet from today onwards.
I hope they know they made me confess.