“Run!” Students darted across obstacles as they tried running towards their classroom. Only the unlucky ones remained in his wrath and they kept their heads hung low in fear. No one knew what would happen but they knew it would be bad. Students drew back hastily to let him through and his progress across the asphalt was like that of Moses through the Red Sea. At 1.7 meters, he towered above everyone. The shadow of his formidable figure darkened as he marched on. His bull neck on big shoulders, thick arms which weighed a thousand pounds, and powerful and muscular legs were a sight to behold. His double chin, cruel smile and arrogant eyes frightened the lives of all. It was none other than… Tim Tan, also known as Tin Tin.
“You! Yes, you in the necktie. What’s your name?! Get over here!” Tim bellowed as he pointed towards a petite Primary One boy. Tim ordered him to kneel before him as he began rummaging through his pockets. Seeing that there was nothing in his pockets, Tim barked at the boy before grabbing him by the collar and pushing him against the wall. Seeing that the Primary One boy refused to give him any money, Tim then used his shin to hit him on the knees. Afraid that he may not be spared, the boy gave a two-dollar note that he found crumpled in his pocket to Tim. Tim smirked before storming off, and it felt as though the ground shook beneath him, about to crumble at any minute. The rest of the students rejoiced to themselves, heaving a sigh of relief that they had been spared before scurrying back to class.
Just as Tim walked past the canteen toilet, he spotted a fragile old lady with a hunched back trying to turn the vacuum cleaner off from the corner of his eye. Unfortunately, the vacuum cleaner would not stop due to the fact that the lady was pressing the button to turn it on. An unexpected tear rolled down Tim’s cheek as he reminisced about his late grandmother learning how to use a smartphone. The cleaner’s manner of sighing when realising that the vacuum cleaner refused to turn off and the posture of how she leaned forward were exactly like Tim’s grandmother’s.
“Grandma? No. Could I be hallucinating?” Tim staggered towards the lady. He knew it could never be his grandmother but something kept tugging at his heartstrings, reminding him that the old lady looked like his grandmother. Tim then dashed forward and spoke in a clear and crisp voice.
“Uh… Auntie, let me help you with the vacuum cleaner.” Observing how the cleaner huffed and puffed in exhaustion, Tim immediately pulled out a chair for her to relax. At first, the cleaner was frightened and terrified as she noticed the scars and bruises on Tim’s arms. However, observing how Tim was so patient and kind to lend a helping hand, she decided to introduce herself while Tim read the torn and tattered manual.
“ Hi, uh… what is your name? My… name is May! Thank you for helping me with the vacuum cleaner. You know ever since this new principal replaced the broom for the vacuum cleaner for us, she has made life so difficult as we have to bend down. This reminded me of…” As Tim listened to her long-winded stories of days past, Tim felt like he was back in his grandmother’s house, on her lap as she told him about the past. Tears began welling up in Tim’s eyes as memories of his grandmother came flooding back.
After a tedious and thorough clean-up of the vacuum cleaner, he handed the cleaner to Aunty May. Tim bade farewell to Aunty May before heading back to his class to collect his bag. From the corner of their eyes, some students had spotted Tim’s helpful act and gathered to watch him. This was a completely different Tim – not the one who grabbed a person by the collar and not the one who stole money from people! Students cheered as many broke out into thunderous applause.
Tim then glanced at his watch and realised that there was only 10 minutes left before dismissal! Out of the blue, Tim spotted the boy whom he bullied earlier and made a beeline for him before handing over the two-dollar note he had coerced out of him. Tim then sheepishly apologised to everyone for his foolishness and violence. He had turned over a new leaf. Looking back, Tim was really regretful for his past mistakes and his violence. He was ashamed of himself and wished to reverse time to amend all mistakes he had made.
As the saying goes “Once bitten, twice shy”. Tim was never a bully again but transformed into a protector against bullies.