Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
- TITLE: Space for a little girl
By Suzanne R
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This statement changed my life. My name is Prianatawan Chayapratib, but you can call me ‘Briana’. This is my story.
I’m told that my aunt staged a half-day ‘sit in’ in the office of the director of ‘Grace Homes’, demanding that they find a space for me. They had 75 applications and only 8 available spaces. The leaders ‘just happened’ to be prayerfully discussing who would be offered the coveted places while my aunt politely but obstinately sat in their midst. I was six at the time, ignorant of Aunty’s actions.
My brother and I were newly orphaned. We never knew our father. Our mother had worked in the city, coming home every week or two with money for our “uncle”. He wasn’t really our uncle, but he looked after Mama and us. I spent my days at Aunty’s house. Aunty truly is our aunt. I love her very much.
“Uncle” sent my brother to school, providing him with his uniform, books and a bicycle. In return, my brother worked for “Uncle”, delivering packets of pills and collecting the payments. “Uncle” figured that nobody would suspect a schoolboy. He was wrong. One day, the police arrived at the home of a client. My brother escaped, and ran all the way home. He lost his bike, and got a terrible beating from “Uncle”.
Then Mama came home for good. She was as white and frail as a rice seedling which had never seen the sun. She slept a lot. One awful day, she didn’t wake up. I tried to open her eyes, but her skin was cold, her eyes lifeless. Aunty said that the sickness was a hazard of Mama’s job.
On the day of the funeral, “Uncle” allowed my brother to become a novice monk for 24 hours. Lots of boys do that because it earns merit for the deceased parent. I bowed before my brother, with his shaved head and eyebrows and orange robes.
My brother never came home again. Aunty told me later that he’d begged the abbot to keep him on as a monk and send him far away from “Uncle”. The abbot asked Aunty about it, as the closest relative. Aunty not only agreed, but made a generous contribution to the temple … a contribution that her family couldn’t afford.
As for me, “Uncle” said that I should live with Aunty until arrangements could be made to send me to the south of our country. There was plenty of work down there for pretty young girls, he said. He’d go first and make the arrangements. He assured Aunty that I wouldn’t be a burden on her for long, and that she’d be paid for her trouble.
The appearance of any stranger in our village sent me fleeing to my hiding place in the corner of a half decaying raised hut behind the village. My heart would pound against the walls of my chest until the stranger had gone. Day in and day out, I waited with dread for “Uncle” to send for me.
The day that my life changed, Aunty rose early. She walked down the dirt road to the tar road. I followed, curious. She squeezed onto the crowded red city bus.
All day, I fretted. Aunty rarely went to town. Mama had died of a sickness from the town. As the sun set, a khaki vehicle bounced down the pot-holed road to our village. I fled to my hiding place. Soon, I heard Aunty’s voice. “Briana, a foreign aunt is here to meet you.”
Foreign? Would my beloved aunty send me even further away than the south of our country? I wished I could sink into the floor and out of sight. The light faded as my aunt and the foreign lady called and searched. Finally, the inevitable happened. I was found.
Aunty sobbed when I left, strapped into the back seat of the car, wearing all my worldly goods. I didn’t cry. ‘Emotionally flat’ is how they described me during those first few weeks in ‘Grace Homes’.
That’s how I, Briana, came to live at Grace Homes.
Now that space is available for another little girl. Thanks to the foreign aunts and generous sponsors, I’ve not only completed high school, but am about to start college. Nobody in my village has ever finished high school! I plan to become a teacher.
All because some Christians made space for one little girl……
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