In the autumn when I was in Grade 1, I was invited to my classmate’s birthday party at her house. It was the first birthday party I had ever attended, since in my family, birthdays were always celebrated within the family, and in the previous community I had lived in, none of my close friends hosted any external birthday party either.
Not knowing what to expect, I was very nervous prior to the birthday party. My mother helped me to choose a gift for my friend, and on the day of the party, she drove me to her house, which was located on the opposite side of the community from my place.
When I arrived, my friend’s house was already packed with many other classmates. Though most of the faces were familiar to me, I suddenly felt very awkward. I hurriedly handed the gift to my friend, then stood in the corner of the room, away from others who were already playing some game that I did not know what.
After some time, it was decided that we would all play together in the park nearby. I followed everybody else to the park, which was a big park with fun playground equipment. We played hide-and-seek, chasing games, and I finally slowly started to feel part of the group.
While playing chasing games, however, I got distracted by a collection of swings — more precisely, a collection of balls hanging from a metal frame. I sat on one of them and started moving to the adjacent ones. Soon, I got so absorbed in the activity that I forgot about everything else.
Some time passed, and I thought it was strange that nobody came after me even though we were supposed to be playing a chasing game. I then looked around and realized that I did not see any familiar face around me. I quickly jumped off the ball swing and walked around to find my friends, but they were nowhere to be found.
“Where are they?” I thought to myself. “They are gone?”
As I walked around the park, a sense of panic slowly spread my body.
“Did they go back home? But why didn’t they tell me?”
Holding back tears, I started running. I vaguely remembered from which direction we came. As I ran, I thought back on earlier that morning when my mother drove me to my friend’s place. I suddenly missed my home. I wanted to go home, but I did not know the route, so I headed back to my friend’s house instead.
Just before reaching my friend’s house, I came upon an intersection where the streets met in irregular angles. I tried all of them, but I could not find my friend’s house. I panicked. I started crying out loud as I walked back the way I came. I felt so miserable and lost that all I wanted to do was to go back home and see my mother.
As I walked, crying loudly, somebody who lived in the neighbourhood heard me and came to me. She asked me where I wanted to go, and when I told her the name of my friend, she knew which house and took me there.
The moment I walked in, my friend’s mother and some of my friends came over and told me that they had been looking for me.
“I was walking back from the park and got lost!” I made a tearful statement. “I was left behind in the park!”
“I heard somebody crying outside,” one of my friends said to my friend’s mother. “That was her!”
I did not say anything. I was still recovering from the shock of having been left behind in an unfamiliar place.
The afternoon turned out to be better. I was more properly included in the group activity, and I was able to have fun with everybody else. My friend also really liked my gift, and I was happy about that, too.
So, in the end, it was a fun birthday party. But the memory of getting lost during the party was haunting to me, and I thought to myself that if this was what a big birthday party was about, I would be very happy without it.