SINGAPORE - She claimed that she was going out to withdraw money.
But the study mama from China never returned, leaving her six-year-old daughter in the hands of her bewildered landlords.
Ms Li Lin, 39, had allegedly owed about two months' rent when she pulled the disappearing act on her landlords in late April, reported Shin Min Daily News.
It was not the first time that Ms Li went missing, claimed her landlords, Mr Lai Wen Jie, 37, a chef, and his wife, Ms Zhou Xuan, 40, a housewife.
The first time Ms Li vanished, in the second week of April, the couple reported the matter to the police, who found her at a gambling den two weeks later.
She returned to their flat, but not for long. On April 27, she disappeared again.
The couple told Shin Min that they have since been taking care of Ms Li's daughter.
Mr Lai told the Chinese daily: "We tried calling her and she said she would come back the next day.
"The next day, she said she would be back at night.
"And at night, she said she had left home. After that, we could no longer reach her on her mobile phone."
Mr Lai said Ms Li had arrived in Singapore from China's Fujian province three to four years ago.
About a year ago, she and her daughter rented a room in their flat, he said.
He added that Ms Li's daughter attended a kindergarten near their home.
But Ms Li spent little time with her daughter as she worked in nightclubs, he said.
Indeed, Mr Lai said he and his wife spent more time with the girl than Ms Li.
Ms Li went missing for the first time on April 10.
According to Mr Lai, when the police found her, she was in arrears not only with the rent, but also with her daughter's school fees.
But days after her second disappearance, Ms Li turned up at the school to pay the fees, Mr Lai claimed.
It was not clear how he knew this.
"The kindergarten is just a street away from our flat, yet she did not even come up to take a look at her daughter," he said.
Mr Lai and his wife have been taking care of Ms Li's daughter for more than two months now. Indeed, the girl now calls them "daddy" and "mummy".
Mr Lai said: "Over time, we became closer and closer. She addresses our daughter as her sister, and us as her father and mother.
"Though I tell her to call me 'uncle', she never got used to it."
Even when Ms Li was staying with them, she was seldom at home at night.
So Mr Lai and his wife would allow the girl to sleep in their bedroom.
Mr Lai admitted that he and his wife are comfortable taking care of Ms Li's daughter, but added they are unable to do so indefinitely.
Ms Zhou said the girl has looked sullen and troubled since her mother left.
"We cannot understand what sort of mother would do this to her daughter," she maintained.
Added Mr Lai: "If Ms Li was facing any problem, she should at least tell us so that we can settle it with her.
"But she fled and left her daughter behind. She is just too heartless."
This article was first published on July 12, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.