A girl with AIDS and her isolated life
Updated: 2016-05-25 09:43
A small farm house, a bamboo grove, a bicycle, a skipping rope and a flock of chicken and ducks – this is virtually the whole world for an 11-year-old girl living with AIDS.
Shasha, an alias, lives in a remote mountain village in Ningxiang County in China's southern province of Hunan. Her mother died in 2006, and she was later diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
Word of her disease quickly spread through the village after her father also died of AIDS in April 2015. Throughout the next year, she was forced out of school twice by her fellow schoolmates' parents.
Shasha has to stay at home. Mr. Yin, principal of her former primary school, comes to teach her at home once a week; it is her only contact with the outside world.
"Everyone's afraid of me"
On an April morning last year, a parent/teacher meeting was held in the school to discuss whether Shasha should stay.
Standing timidly at her grandfather's side, Shasha understood nothing about their harangue of mosquito bites and blood transmission, but was nevertheless frightened to see a hysterical parent cry out, "You cannot study at the school!"
"Everyone's afraid of me," said the sensitive 11-year-old. "I'm all alone all the time."
Even her two best friends began drifting away from her. Whenever she went to her friends' house, their parents would send her back with several pieces of fruit.
Whenever she asked them to play "rubber band skipping," they would always find an excuse for not going.
This kind of isolation was also found at home, as her grandmother makes her use separate tableware, a washbasin and a bucket. And she can only cuddle with a plush toy bear while sleeping at night.
Shasha's sister, who goes to a boarding school, is her only friend. She buys her biscuits, candies, beautiful hairpins and toys when she comes back every weekend.
The 11-year-old girl always looks forward to spending time with her sister, playing games and watching cartoons on TV.
For most of the time, Shasha needs to cope with solitude.
Chicks, ducks and the plush toys that her sister has given her, as well as the bamboo grove surrounding her home, have all become Shasha's friends. She thinks blankly while sitting at the farm house, remembering the days when she would play games with her friends at school.
But now, she is always by herself, either do a bit of math homework Mr. Yin leaves with her or with the chicks and ducks at the farm.
Every afternoon, the ducks that leave to seek food outside march back home and Shasha always recognizes immediately which ones belong to her family.
She has gained interest in riding a bicycle that her father gave her before he died. Shasha used to ride it to school but now she can only ride it in the yard.
Outside the yard, there's a slope that she loves to ride on. "I feel free as the wind when riding down the slope," Shasha said.
For Shasha, time is not easy to kill. After getting up at eight or nine in the morning, all she can do is idle blankly in the bamboo grove, feed her chicks three or four times, play "Fruit Ninja" – a mobile phone game – hundreds of times, and listen to the rustling bamboo leaves blowing in the wind.
On May 12, Shasha stayed at home alone. She took out a notebook with the lyrics of her school song written on it. "Greet the rising sun; say goodbye to the sunset; we learn knowledge and pursue our dreams," she sang.
But no one listens.
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