Hariini and I.
I decided to do the unthinkable (for me. My friends know I'm crap with kids) and joined the "Adopt an Orphan a Day" program. You know you should be worried when the first thing that happens when your ‘adopted child for the day’ looks at you is burst into tears. I mean, I know I may not be dripping with maternal instincts but I couldn’t be that bad, could I? This child, Hariini, seemed to have decided at the first once-over that I would make a horrible ‘Mummy for a day’ candidate. She was a petit girl, four years old, huge eyes and could only speak Chinese. And yes, I could only speak English and Malay so I spent that whole day acting out body languages for “Toilet breaks?” and “Thirsty?” But you know what they say, communication is 80% body language so I went through the day with that motto in my head.
The beautiful thing about children is that they see the world through the most trusting and innocent eyes. I had to bribe her with ice cream and Barbie dolls (I even had to ask a friend to come along and help) but after a while she seemed to trust me enough to tag along. She liked to climb, taste and knock everything she saw. Afterwards it was shopping time, where I had five hundred Ringgit and a few key items to get on the list. Somewhere between wrestling Hariini to try on new sports shoes, chasing her down every toy lane, running to the bathroom for her emergencies and picking up after things she left behind, we managed to buy her a bundle of clothes, toys (Barbie, of course), new sports shoes and books.
In all honestly no girl in her right mind wouldn’t like spending money that isn’t hers to buy pretty things for other little girls, and this includes yours truly. But the best part was understanding the fact that Harini has never gone out shopping before, and the look in her face when that Mermaid Barbie fell into her arms –priceless. She was so excited that she even insisted on carrying her own shopping bags, but I didn’t want to be arrested by those child welfare people who might say I’m bullying by asking her to carry her own bags, so there I was, one hand with shopping bags and the other with a child.
By the time the day ended my feet were hurting so bad I had to take my shoes off and walked barefoot around (lesson here: do NOT wear 4-inch heels when involved with this. Somebody should’ve put that notice on the Itinerary pack) while holding on to bags and chasing Hariini who seemed to have disappeared among her friends. All the kids looked happy, bright-eyed and excited with their own Mummys and Daddys. I have never felt so proud to be a part of it. When I left Hariini was too busy getting fake tattoos, but who could blame her? It might have been one of the best days of her four-year life. And by the end of it, that’s all that matters, really.