I did something good. I wanted to do it and I did it. Today was the last day of school. Not real school. Awards and handing out report cards.

But first I’ll tell you some other things. Yesterday was a National Holiday. The usual program of listening to boring speeches for hours (broadcast from the Capitol—why do we have to do that? Can’t we sit at home and listen like normal people?) then dances. The speeches ended only at noon. By then, all the other teachers got bored and left. I was alone except for an elderly man who irritates me to no end (Is it necessary to make noises when you walk into a room just so people know you exist?) and a National Language teacher who can say “good morning” and “pen” in English. Probably a few other things.

I stayed in hopes of watching C dance.

Anyway, she was sitting on the other side of the grassy field we use for these kinds of things. We call it the Public Ground. I have no idea what we would say in American English (stadium?) Then I saw her reach into what amounts to an enormous pocket of her National Dress.

For a phone. The phone IT Ma’am gave her that the games coordinator was supposed to deliver and didn’t for 6 months. (God knows why.) Then didn’t work (dead battery, I bought a new one.) And now C’s mom is using.

But C got the phone for the day. She got to be like other girls with educated parents (her dad works in civil service) who have fancy phones.

Then, I had given her money to buy clothes. Her coat was too small, she has two pairs of trousers, one of which can no longer be washed clean and has a hole in the seat and C wanted a blue collared shirt. Also I guess she needs shoes. I got the shoes out of her as a request with kisses.

“Do you need anything else?” No, and a kind of half smile which, to me indicates polite lying. I don’t know what I said, but I kissed her. Her forehead or maybe her hair.


“School shoes or sports shoes?”

“Sports shoes.” So we estimated how much that would cost.

“Anything else?”

“No.” Another half smile. More polite and wistful lying. Another kiss.

“Slippers.” (Translate that as sandals.)

More calculating…

“All of your money is going because of me.”

“It’s okay. I wouldn’t adopt you if I couldn’t afford you.”

So that was the conversation. In the afternoon yesterday, I saw her walking by my house in new trousers and a new coat, looking—how do I say? Beautiful. Just alive. So alive.

That was yesterday. So I feel like I did something good. It was a shopping trip. A phone. Material goods, but I don’t think I completely realized what these can mean. They can mean I am just as good as anyone else. They can mean things can be done. Phones can be made to work. They can mean I am worth putting effort into. They can mean life is full of hope and promise. They can mean someone cares about me.

But I know this has to be handled. I mean, it’s not a simple thought. I did so many bad things. How did I grow up to be good?