The Longest Night of My Life
It happened more than twenty years ago (it seems like
yesterday) but from time to time it flashes in my memory and fills all my
That night, when I was just about to go to bed, I heard
excited yelling outside. Young, curious, and especially foolish, I said to
my parents, “Why don’t we unlock and unbar the door and have a peek at
what’s going on outside?”
My mom answered, “I don’t think it is a good idea.”
“But Mom, we don’t know what’s going on,” I insisted.
Then we unlocked and unbarred our living room’s door (we lived like
prisoners) and went to the garage to peer through the hole just to satisfy
my curiosity. Each one of us took turns to have a good look outside. The
screaming was so deafening—they were shouting and arguing—that it sent a
chill up my spine. We could hardly make out the words that they were
arguing about, but I recognized one of the voices was my neighbour’s.
Before I could learn what the conversation was about,
the mobs were breaking our gate and easily opening the door because we
practically helped them by previously unlocking the door. Simultaneously,
we were face-to-face with them.
They were just kids of twelve to fourteen years old with
a couple of adults as their leaders.
Each of them held a bat-like stick as their weapons and
were smashing and breaking all of our belongings: the TV set, the tape
recorder including the cabinet, all the bottles in the kitchen, and all
the things they could reach. Meanwhile, we were all pushed into my
parents’ bedroom, huddled together in a squatting position holding our
shaking knees, waiting for our fate. They screamed in our faces, “Chinese!
Get out of our country! What did you do to our brother?” they demanded. I
didn’t have a clue what they were saying.
“We don’t know anything,” my father tried to reason.
Then the leader grabbed a chair and hit my father with it. Crying, I
begged him not to hurt my father.
“Please, remember God!” I spoke my prayer out loud.
“Remember God!” Instinctively I repeated the words over and over.
“You can take all our belongings but don’t hurt us,” my
mom pleaded. Suddenly, from a distance, we could hear a police siren, so
the mob ran out and helped themselves to small things they could grab on
their way out.
We rushed to hug each other. When I went into the living
room, a sudden realization hit me, as if I had just woken up from a
nightmare. The room was very messy, like a wrecked ship, covered by broken
glasses and greasy dark liquid. The smell of soy sauce and vinegar touched
my nostrils. I looked at it in despair, but my saint-like father tried to
comfort us, saying “Let us go to sleep, it is very late now. We have
enough already so let us deal with the rest tomorrow.” As if what happened
was just a regular event; we would just sleep it off and “boom” it would
disappear without a trace.
But things turned out differently.
Not long after, I heard footsteps coming toward us.
Without any barrier because of the broken gate and door, I felt alarmed.
“Anybody there,” a voice demanded and a body came into shape. It was a
police officer and his colleagues. I sighed with relief. “Is any one
hurt?” Without waiting for an answer, “Good,” he said. “Now, pack your
precious things and come with us to the police station, because they might
come back. You are not alone. There are a few families now,” he explained.
At the police station, there were other Chinese families
with the same or even worse fate than us. We looked like refugees in a
small police station sitting or lying down on the ground and some still
wore their pyjamas. From them, I learned that a lot of young Chinese girls
were raped and then killed, the men were killed, the stores in which
Chinese people do business were robbed and/or burned, and the most
shocking news was that my best friend, my classmate since we were in
primary school all through high school, was killed including all her
siblings, parents, and granny—they were killed and then burned in their
Consequently, after hearing that news, I could not sleep
even though I felt exhausted. I questioned God for what had happened to
us. Why God? Why did you let all these terrible things happen? People said
that in every unfortunate event, there is a hidden meaning. And I tried
and tried to figure it out. It was the longest night in my life.
Maybe I should thank God that my family and I were still
in one piece and whatever material things we lost were nothing compared to
the other victims who had lost their family members or the entire family
such as my best friend’s.
Finally, all I got from it is a trauma and a bad memory.
Nevertheless, I thank God for the test he put me through and from then on
I have become a stronger person.