In 1990 my family came to Australia as business migrants. It wasn’t a great year to embark on a new life when the country was going through the recession. The downturn in the economy was so widespread that you could feel the doom and gloom right across the continent just about everywhere. A famous line often heard on the news was: When Japan sneezes, Australia catches a cold. A sentiment was shared by many. The fragility of the economy affected all facets of the society and put pressure on all things that required money to run. The interest rates were so skyrocket high like 15 to 17 percent that if you had enough funds in your bank account, you could literally live a comfortable life just from the interest earned. The problem was Australians weren’t famous for saving money. In fact, they were short of it – the cash. Facing the bleak economic outlook, at one point I was dubious about my future here long term. But because we’d already come this far, going back home wasn’t not even an option, so we held on.
If you’ve ever studied, worked or lived aboard, then you’d know what it takes to assimilate and fit into a new country. There’re so many stories I’d love to share with my readers on this platform, but I cannot possibly include them all in one post so for now I’m just going to focus on one odd event. Yes, you heard it right. Odd. It took place roughly about 3 months after we arrived in Sydney. I call it: The Night My Home Got Burgled.
Before I start, just to give you a rough idea about the place we were renting then. It was a 2-bed old style flat that came as unfurnished. When we moved in, the condition was basic. Our plan was to buy a permanent home to live in before the 6-month lease was due. Therefore, we weren’t in any hurry to stock the place with new furniture except daily essentials like fridge, washing machine, TV and beds stuff etc.
So, on that day before the event unfolded, we did something new – playing the tennis for the first time. It looked easy but honestly hitting the ball over the net was much harder than I’d thought. Later that day, my muscles already started to ache from the hours of workout on the court. At night, we all got very tired and exhausted and just wanted to go to bed early. There was nothing out of ordinary except for some silly reason, my mum went to kitchen and left the sliding window half open for the entire evening.
I felt asleep very quickly but got up to go to toilet in the middle of the night. On my way I noticed something spooky – a shadow across the living room. It was too dark to pin down exactly what it was or could’ve been. So, I gave up. While there, I also noticed the street lights reflected off our kitchen floor while the curtains were blowing in the wind. I thought who the hell has forgotten to lock the window. Anyway, I was too sleepy to figure it all out, I went back to bed again.
The next morning when I woke up. My dad came talking to me, in his usual serious tone, he said: We’ve been broken into! “No way!”, I retorted. But we were all at home last night. How could it happen? Still in disbelief, I stormed into my bed room, then realized some of my personal belongings were gone. My watch, my backpack, my wallet. “The burglar only took my stuff. Why?!” I yelled and protested. What about my passport? I’d be in trouble if it was gone too. Luckily, I took it out of my backpack and placed it on the coffee table that night. My sixth sense told me to do that. It proved to be a wise move.
Minutes later, my mum came joining us, she said to me in somewhat a humorous way: your pants that I hung out and let dry in the balcony yesterday are now all over the floor. Apparently, the burglar even tried on my pants. Back in the day I was the thinnest I’d ever been, waist size 27”. There was no way he could’ve fit himself into that pair of chinos! Not a chance.
This unfortunate event left me with a bad taste in the mouth about Australia. But really it had nothing to do with Australia. A burglary can happen anywhere anytime. I soon moved on and carried on living my life.
Strangely, a month later, an unexpected twist to the event started to surface. One day a librarian from my college called. She said someone found my backpack in the library. I should go and pick it up. At first, I was a little puzzled. I said: Are you sure it’s my backpack? It can’t be right. My backpack was stolen from my home a month ago. She was adamant that it was mine. “Yes, it’s got your college enrollment form in it. That’s how I got your contact details”. I was stunned. She was correct. The following day I went to the library to collect my backpack. Of course, it was empty. All other things never returned. Up till now, I still have no idea how my backpack ended up in the college library, some 20-minute drive away from us.
Looking back, what I found disturbing and gave me the creeps was it happened right when we were all inside. I was grateful for the fact that no one was harmed during the burglary and the intruder left us alone. Those goods stolen from me were just material things. Overtime, they would’ve lost their values and become unwanted pieces. The aftermath? There was no aftermath. It failed to shatter our Aussie dreams. Not a day in my life I was thinking about this bad experience except now when I’m writing this post. Like the Australian economy, it survived the storm and bounced back. We also succeeded in our pursuit in our own right.
Life goes on. If the burglar was someone in his 20’s then, by now he would be in his late 40’s or 50’s. If he’s still alive today and I hope he is, he would be someone’s partner, father or uncle. I sincerely wish he’s already a changed man and is out there doing good deeds for the people and the country…