Saturday, July 30, 2011

Two Dollies in Paidha

I caught a glimpse of a very unhappy toddler who was forcibly having her teeth brushed and face washed. I knew just the solution. I slowly approached with a dolly believing this would make things all better. Ha. When she saw me she screamed even louder. I think the scream was more like a high pitched squeal. Well, at least she wasn’t crying because of having her teeth brushed anymore.

During the evening, while waiting for supper and serving as the freak show at which all children were content to simply stare upon, another young girl would have nothing of getting closer to me. Her sister and the rest of the children teased by bringing her closer only to hear her scream louder. They kept on, over and over again. This pour tortured child.

I reached out to shake the hands of the many children around me and this young one saw they were none the worse for the wear. Eventually she reached her hand out to me as well. I held it softly for a short time and then she got afraid. I saw her examining the front and back of her hand as her sister took her away. She returned several times to touch the mondu (mzungu in the local Arua language). Through a long series of brief encounters and experiments on her part, she eventually ended up on my lap. She only stayed for a few seconds at first, but the duration extended the more she experimented.

I had just the prize to reward her courage. Augustine ran in to get a dolly and the camera. She and the rest of the crowd examined the two-faced doll. Sleepy baby and awake baby – the concept was interesting to the older children. At first the small girl wasn’t sure she wanted the doll. She held it away from her, perhaps to see if anything bad would happen. Eventually she ended up in my lap again at which time I tucked the dolly in close to her and squeezed her and that doll in a tight hug.

Quickly returning to her place on her sister’s back – the bear hug did it – she also applied the bear hug to her new charge. No, no other child would have the chance to examine this doll now. She was busy holding on for dear life. The next day at church the girl continued to hold this dolly so tight and no adult could pry it away from her for a proper examination. She peeked at me over her mother’s shoulder with great interest but was still a bit shy about touching me. That she still clung to the doll was sweet.