This is a story of how a penny changed my life.
Until I was three, my life was pretty good. I was the only child — until my sister came along. At first, I was very upset. But then my father took me to work with him. He gave me “work to help him” and I felt quite grown up. I was rather proud of myself and constantly asked for things to do to “help.”
So when I was six and my sister went to nursery school, I wanted to take the tram alone, pick up my sister, and help my parents. The school was only a few tram stops from my primary school. Quite simple, I thought. What further simplified things was my tram ride was inside a single zone, so I just had to carry one penny to pay for my trip.
Then one day, the tram was really crowded and I couldn’t push pass the grown ups and get off at my stop.
I was really worried, trying to see the way the tram was going and remember the path so I could retrace my way back to the nursery. Suddenly, I heard a conductor yelling. At first, I didn’t know he was yelling at me until I heard him say “sneaky Chinese.”
I froze and realized because I had passed my regular stop. I had crossed into another zone and needed to pay another penny. But I didn’t have any money. I tried to explain what had happened, that I was not cheating, but he keep yelling.
Then, a very kind lady told the conductor to stop yelling and said, “… listen to what happened. She is is not trying to cheat. Can’t you see she is upset. Here is a penny.”
With tears pouring down, I ran to pick up my sister who by then was the only child left at the nursery.
So I saw how Money, Even A Single Penny, Can Spark An Explosion Out of Nowhere! And for me: For the first time, I met injustice and I saw when facing prejudice I was an invisible child, just a Chinese face, in that person’s eyes. But I also met kindness from strangers who stood up for me and took care of me.