“Let me pay you fifty dollars for this entire trip and you bring me to Holland Drive.” I opened my bag took out my purse in order to pay him. Help! I only had two ten dollar notes and one two-dollar note.
Yes, if I had taken the taxi from the Liat Towers taxi stand to Level Z I would have more than sufficient cash to pay the fare. I remember that I wanted to withdraw cash at the ATM but didn’t make the trip because of the rain. I have some cash at home.
But I know that I can’t make the taxi driver bring me back to Level Z, wait for me to go up to my apartment and collect money, and then come down and pay him. It would be beyond him. No taxi driver in the world would do that for his passenger.
My father tells me to always carry sufficient cash with me. And I think he is right this time. What can I do now? For the first time I looked at the meter.
“Twenty-four dollars and forty-eight cents.” Even if I alight now and paid the driver the fare was more than I could afford it. I unzipped the coin compartment, dug out all the coins and I gave it to the driver. He took it somewhat reluctantly, then he started counting.
“Ok, that’s enough,” the driver was satisfied, and he returned me two ten cent coins.
I took the returned change and took my time to get out of the taxi. The passenger at the taxi stand was just waiting to get in. This time there was no man with an umbrella that I could make use of. I tugged my handbag under my arm hoping to shield it from the rain. Life is hard. At thirty-six I am still single. And no close boyfriends either. Even if many people have said that I was attractive and that I consider myself educated. Actually, I have a degree from the Faculty of Architecture, but I don’t know why I ended up in an interior design firm. I suppose the firm pays well. Well enough for me to travel by taxis daily.
As I walked I kept my thoughts to myself, almost forgetting my purpose here to Holland Village. I even walked past the DBS Bank where I could put in the one thousand dollars. The bank doesn’t close until seven p.m. One thousand dollars or the chance to meet the man of my dreams. If he were married, then all my efforts to return the wallet would be wasted. doesn’t provide an answer under the circumstances. Even if I read the Bible from cover to cover I still won’t find the answer.
Finally, I gave up as I stood right in front of 3A. Then I realized that I had reached Holland Drive. The house was not very large. But the car that was parked in the narrow garage was formidable. A BMW. White. I looked at it and I wondered why the man had to resort to taxis.
Could this be his house? Then the answer came. This must be his wife’s car. So, the man must be married. Why would a single man buy an expensive car and use public transport? It makes no sense. I peeped into the window and I could see the lights on. The upper floor was also lit. Invariably I took the wallet out from my handbag and I slipped it into the letterbox by the side of the gate. Then I started to walk away.
The rain was getting smaller. And I must get home for dinner. Rover must be hungry but suddenly I realized that I had no more money to go home. I couldn’t very well walk from Holland Drive to Farrer Road. So, I turned back, and I came up to 3A again. This time I rang the doorbell. I did not have to wait long before a man came up to the gate. It was him! The man in the taxi with me. The man with the umbrella.
“Oh God! I have been calling the taxi company.”
“You got my wallet?” immediately he asked.
“Yes, it’s here,” I said, pointing to the letterbox.
“Why did you put it there?” he was a little surprised.
“Oh, I wanted to return it without telling you.” I told him the truth.
Without further prompting, the man opened his letterbox from inside his house. “No, there is nothing inside,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The letterbox is empty,” he said affirmatively.
I did not believe him, so I stepped into his house and together we looked into the letterbox. Yes, he was right. It was empty. There was nothing inside. So, somebody must have taken the wallet away from the letterbox whilst I was away, between the time I dropped it and when I came back the second time. But who could have known that I had put the wallet inside. I don’t think anyone saw me, although I must say that I didn’t look around before I did it.
So, I merely said, “I am sorry, but I really don’t know, Mr. Chia.”
I have never been so dumb, I knew then straight away that I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have called him Mr. Chia. Unless I had peeped into his wallet I won’t know he is Mr. Chia.
“I am going to report you to the police,” Mr. Chia quickly grabbed hold of my hand.
“No, I didn’t take it,” I struggled.
“Then who could have taken it?” he replied.
“And you have no reason to put it in the letterbox,”
“Hey, if I had wanted your wallet I won’t have come all this way,” I retorted, putting some sense into this man.
Just at this time, a woman came to my rescue.
“Who is she?” she asked.
“A thief,” Mr. Chia said.
“She stole my wallet.” Now it was my turn to become furious.
“You left it in the taxi yourself,” I shouted back.
“What? You took a taxi back with her?” the woman said.
“You gave me the car this morning because you wanted to go out with this woman?” the woman also became angry.
It seemed that there was already some discord between the two of them and that she was suspicious of him. In that case this must be Mrs. Chia. I got my answer now. Mr. Chia is married. But first, now I must get myself out of this shit. The man’s wallet is lost once and for all, and I had no means to return it. On top of it all, I am accused of having stolen it.
“If you didn’t take my wallet, how did you know my name?” that’s a good question.
“And how did you know my address?”
“You must have looked into the wallet and found the information.” Arguments were strong one after another and I could only say that I did not take his wallet.
“Search me,” I offered.
“No, you would accuse me of molesting you, besides, who knows where you have hidden it?”
“Alright, if I had your wallet, why did I come back here again?”
“Only God knows,” was the reply.
The woman was watching us all the while, contemplating if she should call the police. The rain was getting lighter turning into a drizzle. But my fate was getting into a downturn. I had to think fast to get myself out of this shit.
“Look, I only discovered your wallet after you had alighted,” I continued,
“I ordered the taxi driver to come here to return it to you, then I dropped it into your letterbox, because I didn’t want to come in to disturb you. I walked away and came back because I realized that I had no more money to go home, so I was hoping to come in and borrow some cash from you since I did you the favor of returning your wallet, I had no idea that it was stolen.”