The day my life changed

2013-11-07 00:00

THE incident occurred a mere 13 years ago. I was at the delicate age of three. The daunting event still remains vivid in my head to this day.

While most of my toddler years are a blurred amalgamation of fact and fiction, this memory is crystal clear. There is a moment in everyone’s life when they come to the shocking conclusion that the world is not safe. The peaceful playground we see as kids is teeming with drugs and crime at night. Inevitably, we learn about the dark side of society, the bitter evil that is omnipresent in the world around us. All this comes to light at some point. For me, this realisation hit me the day I was almost abducted.

In the large city of Pietermaritzburg, the place I call home, lies a huge material shop in Chapel Street called Ragland. My preschool was having a dress-up day. I was going as the all mighty vigilante, Batman. I had it all — the mask, the outfit and the cape. All I needed was Velcro with which to attach my magnificent cape. My mom and I had taken the trip to Ragland to buy the final item and thus complete my costume. An innocent trip was all it took for the malice of the world to be revealed to me.

We left the wholesale store, Makro, and drove our way to Ragland. When we arrived, the colossal doors greeted us. Beyond the doors lay the square counter that was lined with tills and situated perfectly in the middle of the entrance. Mountains made from material rolls lay around me. This place was a wonderland. The thrill of crawling beneath the large cutting tables, to summit the mountains of material, to climb into the fabric baskets, to search for “treasure” — which I now know to be sequins — this gigantic building represented one thing for me, adventure.

The people who occupied this mystical playland were always so friendly, smiling gaily at me as I crawled around discovering new areas of the shop. It never crossed my mind that anyone would ever try to harm me here. I was oblivious to what was about to occur. My mom stood by the shelves measuring off Velcro strips. A woman walked into the shop. She sauntered towards me, nothing out of the usual. I smiled, she grabbed my arm, and I looked up at her.

She tugged me towards the doors, I followed her. My mom looked up and screamed. She ran towards us. The woman almost had me outside the doors. My mom grabbed my arm and pushed the woman away. All I remember her shouting was: “Let go of my child!”

Bystanders did nothing to help my mom. They stood there, men and women alike, gaping at the scene, not even bothering to help. The woman laughed as my mom struggled. The woman let go of me, and my mom and I collided. My mom held me in her arms, tears running down her face. I didn’t know why she was crying. We left immediately, without my Velcro. I didn’t understand why.

I only began to realise the horror that had occurred when I arrived home. I sat on my parents’ bed as my dad tried to explain to a three-year-old what had occurred. That day changed the world for me. I no longer saw a wonderland of adventure. No more was my simplistic view of the world present. I saw everything with clarity and the evil would never be clouded again.

So here I sit, writing this story, living a brilliant life, with amazing friends, and goals and dreams for the future. Everything is perfect. But what if, what if my mom had not looked up? What if the woman had stolen me out the door? Where would I be? Would I be alive? My friends, my goals and my dreams, would they even exist? I firmly believe they wouldn’t. All that is my life would have been cast into oblivion and consumed by the malicious darkness that is present on the Earth.

My mother looked up. Call it God, intuition, whatever you like, but all I know is that my mom is my hero. I cannot begin to imagine the mothers who looked up a second too late — the mothers who turn away and when they look back, their child is no longer there. There are children out there who weren’t as lucky as I was, whose lives were stolen from them by sick individuals. This forever changed my life, all because of some woman’s evil and hatred. I will be eternally scarred from the harrowing experience of almost being abducted.

“I’M a big nerd with a love for maths,” writes Maritzburg College’s Devin Pelser.

“I have a keen interest in philosophy and religion, and often keep myself occupied with these subjects. I spend lots of time at my friends’ places and they make up a large part of who I am.”

After school, he would like to study aerospace engineering or applied mathematics.

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